Campfire Notes

The Greatest Internship

The Greatest Internship

A male camp counselor with his arm around a camper at Gold Arrow Camp

By Alison “Bean” Moeschberger

I still cringe every time I hear a counselor tell me that they’re not returning to camp next summer because they have to get an internship to prepare for their “real job.”  It stings because this is my real job, but, more than that, I believe wholeheartedly in the training and life preparation counselors experience while working at summer camp.  It would be easy to say that camp counseling is a good internship for people who want to work with children for their career, but the work experience camp counselors gain at camp translates to strong, employable skills that any company would be excited to see in their applicants.

6 Critical Skills Counselors Develop at Camp:

Summer Camp staff member at Gold Arrow Camp prepares a young girl to climb a cargo net

Responsibility

There is no greater responsibility than caring for other people’s children.  Camp counselors are responsible for the 24-hour care of a group of children.  They have a very significant presence on the camp’s organizational chart, and their work with campers is essential to camp’s operation.

4 Summer camp staff smile for the camera at Gold Arrow Camp

Teamwork

Camp provides a unique opportunity where counselors live, work, and play together.  The friendships they develop over the summer are some of the strongest and most long-lasting relationships.  Camp counselors learn to live in community with people who have very different personalities and life experiences.  They adapt and work well with a range of people.

Summer Camp staff member at Gold Arrow Camp in a tie dye shirt points at the sky while a young boy points along with him

Creativity & Problem Solving

Whether it’s altering the plan for the day because of weather or figuring out a more efficient way to move 10 children from one place to another, camp counselors are constantly provided with opportunities to solve problems and be creative.  They must be flexible and be able to think quickly when alternative solutions are required.

Campers are photographed from above sitting in a star shape

Communication Skills

Without the distraction of technology and social media, camp counselors strengthen their communication skills by engaging in face-to-face interaction with campers and fellow counselors.  They learn how to lead group discussions and practice conflict resolution almost daily.

A cabin of summer camp boys and their counselor stand a salute on a capsized Hobie catamaran at Gold Arrow Camp

Leadership

Children want and need positive role models in their lives.  Camp counselors are closer in age to campers than most of their adult role models at home, and the unique relationships they can form are hugely influential as campers navigate adolescence.  Counselors are forced to examine themselves and share important life lessons with their campers.  They need to remain appropriate in their language and appearance at all times, and living closely with children often causes counselors to see themselves from a different perspective.  It is a powerful experience to be a role model for a child.

Summer Camp counselor smiles at camera while hugging camper

Selflessness

The nature of the job as a camp counselor is humbling.  Camp counselors focus primarily on the safety and happiness of the campers in their care, at the expense of personal freedom and privacy.  Young adulthood can often be a very self-centered time.  People seek instant gratification and act more spontaneously.  The selflessness practiced at camp makes counselors happier and more fulfilled, and we often hear that counselors feel like the best version of themselves because of camp.

Internships are temporary positions that are designed to provide on-the-job training and work experience, and there is no better internship than becoming a camp counselor.

Sources:

http://www.acacamps.org/blog/counselors/10-reasons-why-businesses-should-hire-former-camp-counselors

http://www.acacamps.org/campmag/1405/camp-belongs-resume

http://college.usatoday.com/2011/07/27/opinion-skip-the-internship-go-to-camp/

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/the-internship-that-looks-good-vs-the-job-that-pays/

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/the-camp-counselor-vs-the-intern/?_r=0

 

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2019 Theme: Filling Buckets

2019 Theme: Filling Buckets

by Alison “Bean” Moeschberger

A girl at a summer camp in California smiles at the camera with a heart taped to her back
Girl with heart on her back

Every summer at Gold Arrow Camp, we choose a theme to guide our efforts in helping campers become the best versions of themselves. This practice started in the summer of 2012 when the staff selected “gratitude” as the guiding theme. We followed that with kindness (Cool 2B Kind), relationship building (Creating Connections), helpfulness (Give a Hand), grit (Growing Grit), positivity (The Energy Bus), and 2018’s focus on friendship (Find-a-Friend).

One thing that makes life at camp special is that we live in a community where our shared experience is derived solely from our interactions with each other.  At camp, we exist in a perfect bubble, shielded from input and news from life outside of GAC. This provides us the privilege and responsibility of maintaining our own positive and encouraging atmosphere. Every interaction we have with another person is an opportunity to have a positive, negative, or neutral impact. It is easy to be too self-focused and worry about our own agenda and needs. Encouraging others and actively seeking opportunities to have a positive impact are noble challenges we are excited to embrace in our community.

A counselor and a camper at a summer camp in California on Shaver Lake both smile with thumbs up
Doodle and a camper thumbs up

In keeping with our core value of equipping campers to bring positive changes to the world, we’re proud to announce our 2019 summer theme: Filling Buckets!

Carol McCloud’s children’s book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? is our inspiration. McCloud tells the story of a young boy and the impact his kindness and encouragement have on his community. Every person carries an invisible bucket.  When someone does something kind, encourages another, or helps in some way, it fills another person’s bucket. Conversely, negative interactions empty people’s buckets. In the story, the boy discovers an important truth about kindness.  He realizes that when he encourages others, his own bucket is filled. We’re thrilled to make our GAC community stronger by helping campers understand that encouragement makes others feel valued. Together, we will experience the joy that comes from making others our focus.

There are many opportunities at camp to fill other people’s buckets through kindness and encouragement. Filling Buckets means using our words and actions to show how much we care:

  • Sharing a heartfelt smile
  • Greeting each other by name
  • Helping others without being asked
  • Giving sincere compliments
  • Recognizing others for bravery and achievements
  • Encouraging others when they succeed and also when they’re struggling
  • Elevating the needs of others above our own
  • Seeking opportunities to have a positive impact on others

Filling Buckets builds on the work we’ve done in the areas of positivity, friendship, and kindness. The friendships we forge at camp are special for many reasons, and we know that keeping the focus on lifting each other up will add depth and richness to our connections. It is our sincere hope that 2019’s GAC campers will take this theme home and continue to make positive changes in their communities by being kind and encouraging with everyone they encounter. Everyone deserves a full bucket!

Enjoy this video of Monkey and Soy announcing the theme on our Facebook page.

Campers at a summer camp have their arms over each other's shoulders while they look out over the Sierra Nevada and a mountain lake
Hands over shoulders on a mountaintop

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