Why work at camp for the summer?

Why work at camp for the summer? 

Nothing is more important to summer ministry than the quality of our summer staff. Hiring this team is critical to Covenant Harbor’s mission of loving kids and sharing Jesus. Serving on staff is an opportunity to be trained in the skills staff members need to love and care for each camper and to grow in knowledge of God’s Word, spiritually and personally. What’s more, summer staff members gain professional benefits for future jobs. 

This week, we spoke with a hiring professional about the benefits of working at camp as a young adult. Fredrik Wall is the Director of Financial Resources at the Evangelical Covenant Church. Fredrik is originally from Sweden and has a background in chemical engineering. Initially Fredrik hoped to become a doctor, but after moving to the United States, he started  working in the Covenant Church. Fredrik has worked in various departments, including events, corporate health benefits, church planting, and now financial investments. He also has experience working at a hiring temp agency where he was on teams that interviewed 20 plus applicants every week. 

“What are you looking for when you are hiring someone?” 

I am always looking for the basic skills. Can they read, write, do basic math? Then, I’m looking for things deeper, like what is their attitude? You can teach someone anything, in fact most jobs are going to train you in the specifics of the job, but you cannot teach attitude. It’s no fun to work with someone who has a bad attitude or feels entitled. 

I look at what their experience tells me about their attitude. I want to see if they have a willingness to learn, are adaptable, and have a servant’s heart approach. I also observe their eagerness. That’s really what can put one applicant above the next. 

“How can working at camp develop those traits in a young adult?” 

You (summer camp staff) meet hundreds of parents, so you have to be able to make a good first impression. Over the course of a summer you really get to practice and hone that skill. Plans change all the time at camp. I think most of us saw that this past summer. COVID changed everything, so you had to adapt. Working at camp teaches you how to be flexible, how to roll with the punches, how to have rain plans and plan B, C, and D. Kids can throw a lot of curveballs at you, so you get to really practice your problem solving skills while you love and serve them well. 

One of the big things I think camp can teach is a willingness to learn. No one comes into any job, let alone a summer camp job, knowing how to do everything. When I hire someone, I want to know that they are willing and eager to learn how to do the job well. Camp changes all the time, working there you have to be willing to constantly learn, adapt and make things better.

Working at camp teaches you so many of these soft skills, but when I see that someone worked at camp I am pretty sure they are a hard worker who will be fun to be around. 

“The professional working world is different from the summer camp world, but how can working at camp prepare someone for the professional world?” 

The professional world is changing. COVID changed things. Jobs look different, offices look different, everything is different. You have to be adaptable and positive. If you can’t adapt, you won’t be valuable, and if you are not positive about the changes, then you will be no fun to work with. Camp teaches you how to go with the flow, to take things as they come, and to figure out new ways to do the same mission. 

People who work at camp also learn how to dream big! They see problems and are able to navigate them successfully. I saw that first hand at Covenant Harbor this summer. I was confident as a parent sending my kids to camp because I saw how well Covenant Harbor’s staff navigated and adapted to the new challenges of the pandemic. That had a profound impact on me and my family. It encouraged us to be able to adapt to our new realities as well! 

“When you see summer camp experience on a resume, what does that make you think about the applicant?” 

It shows me that that person has a servant’s heart, that they can put others before themselves. The biggest thing it tells me is that person is able to work for something bigger than themselves. Plus, they are probably someone who is fun and adventurous! 

“What would you tell someone who is on the fence about working at a camp this summer?” 

I would ask them, why are you on the fence? Sure, there are a lot of things to consider, but I would encourage them to think twice. This will be an extremely formative experience for you. You will learn skills you won’t be able to learn in any other job. And on top of all that, you will be gaining friendships that last a lifetime and extending your professional network! There are some incredible people who work at camp. The network of alumni is huge and spans all kinds of professions. You will meet so many people from different walks of life. And you never know, the parent of one of your campers could end up being your next boss. 

“Is there anything else you want to add?” 

The impact of camp is incredible, I can’t stop saying that! As a parent, I know the value of a week at camp in kids’ lives. At camp, you are changing kids’ lives. It might not seem huge in the moment but in the long run, the impact is huge! Don’t underestimate working at camp for the summer!