Camp Woodland Blog

An Alum’s Reflections on the Value of Working at Camp

Posted by on July 28, 2023

As a recent college graduate who is currently applying to grad school, I have found myself reflecting on my four summers as a Woodland counselor through a totally new lens. Any returning counselor will tell you that there is something so unique and special about working at camp. Whether it’s having the opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful natural environment, challenging yourself to meet new people and try new things, or becoming the type of leader you looked up to as a camper, being a counselor is a priceless experience. 

However, being a camp counselor is often hard to write about in resumes and applications despite it being such valuable work experience. It is challenging to explain camp to those who have never experienced it first hand as on the surface it appears to be a “fun” job but not a “serious” or “real” one. In a time when so much emphasis is placed on internships, shadowing experiences, and summer classes, it is important to remember the many lessons and skills that are gained by being a counselor. To list a few:

Leadership: Counselors are responsible for the health and safety of a cabin group of 6-10 campers, teaching activities in one or more areas, and possibly directing an activity while managing several other staff members. You ensure that groups can work together cohesively to provide a positive camp experience for everyone. 

Teamwork: Working with a co-counselor in the cabin, and the rest of the staff at camp, you became an expert team player. Being able to take into account points that differ from your own and learning how to trust your camp sisters is a skill that will be very beneficial to just about any career (and life in general!).

Communication: Effective communication is essential for conveying instructions to campers and for providing updates and feedback to fellow counselors to be sure everyone is on the same page is critical. Communication is what keeps camp running safely and efficiently! Not to mention, sharing a written report during the summer on each camper in your cabin group to show adjustment to group living and personal growth using specific examples is key to realizing the value of camp for caregivers.

Problem Solving: Camp can be unpredictable at times, so problem solving is essential for responding to unexpected situations and changes. The weather is one of the biggest drivers of change at camp as it can go from sunny to rainy in a matter of minutes. Thinking on your feet and being able to switch gears to gather your group and carry on without missing a beat is practiced on a daily basis! Additionally, counselors often encounter conflicts among others, so the ability to find solutions in a positive and constructive manner is another incredibly important skill gained from camp.

Decision Making: With leadership comes decision making. Whether it is organizing plans for daily activities, cabin nights, campfire skits, or just adapting to Woodland “dew” (AKA a rainy day), counselors become very comfortable making decisions individually and as a group.

Creativity: Song Contest, Camper Council, Inspiration Hour, campfire leaders, two-week plans, cabin posters, and more! Counselors have so many opportunities to show their creativity at camp. If changing the words to a song and coming up with dance moves for the highly anticipated Song Contest, facilitating a theme-night of games for the entire camp with your cabin group, and planning engaging lessons for a 60 minute activity period that meets 6 days a week (and with varying ages and skill levels!) doesn’t involve creativity, I don’t know what does! 

Empathy and Patience: Leadership involves understanding and connecting with others’ needs, emotions, and challenges. It is being patient with both campers and fellow staff and offering support in the kindest of ways. These are skills which are cultivated constantly as a Woodland counselor and will spill over into relationships with others at school, home or work.

To former counselors, future counselors, and parents of prospective counselors, working at Woodland is such a rewarding job. Counselors have a profound impact on others and at the same time, have the opportunity for so much personal growth. I know my experience as a counselor will benefit me both professionally and personally for many years to come!

If you know of someone who loves working with people and is looking for a rewarding summer job opportunity for 2024, send them HERE!

by Colette Vavrus