5 Myths About Working At Summer Camp

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We know that working at camp is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and enjoyable jobs you’ll ever have. But we also know that there are a lot of misconceptions about being a summer camp counselor.

Let’s dispel some myths about the job, so you can understand why we believe working at Falling Creek Camp is the best summer employment opportunity out there.

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Myth #1: I won’t make money while working at camp.

Not only will you be earning a paycheck while working at Falling Creek (check out our 2023 Estimated Pay Sheet here), you’ll also be able to save a significant amount during the summer since your room and board expenses are covered. Base pay for the full summer season starts at $3,800, but can scale up to over $6,000 based on your experience, age, education, certifications, and other factors.

Additionally, at camp you’ll live on property, “commute” by foot, and eat all your meals in the camp dining hall. If you were to clock in and out at a typical job, you’d have to pay for living expenses like rent, groceries, and gas. Let’s do the math - if you pay $600-$800 for rent, $300 for groceries, and $200 eating out each month, you’d be paying $3,300-$3,900 during the summer months (and that doesn’t even include gas)! By working and living at camp, you can save all that cash, and earn a paycheck on top of it.

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Myth #2: Working at camp won’t give me the kind of experience I need to advance my career.

Working at camp is just the beginning, and the interpersonal and collaborative skills learned and practiced at camp are invaluable. This is because “soft skills” like resilience, emotional intelligence, patience, teamwork, judgment, risk management, cognitive flexibility, empathy, and ethics aren’t able to be memorized in a classroom. These 21st-century skills are exactly what employers are looking for. Few jobs will start by giving you as much responsibility as a camp counselor, or by offering more opportunities for personal growth and leadership experience.

Even if your intended career path is unrelated to the outdoors, athletics, art, or recreation, you’ll still be gaining leadership skills and networking connections that will give you a competitive edge in the job market, no matter where you’re headed next.

In addition to the experience and skills you’ll gain in your role, you’ll also have the opportunity to leave camp with actual certifications. Certifications can help grow your skills, give you more credibility, introduce you to other professionals in a field, and set you apart from other applicants as you continue your career development.

At Falling Creek, we certify counselors in Wilderness First Aid, or as Wilderness First Responders, depending on your role. Having a first aid certification is great for many different industries, and can help prepare you for unexpected emergencies in your personal life too. Other certifications we have offered our staff include Swiftwater Rescue Certifications, Riding Instructor Certifications, Sailing Certifications, and Food Handling Certifications.

Myth #3: I need internship credit to graduate, and working at camp won’t count.

Actually, you might be surprised to know that in many cases we can work with you to have your camp experience count towards internship credit for your school. Reach out to us about customizing your summer employment at Falling Creek to satisfy your degree’s internship requirements.

Watch this video to hear Matthew’s perspective on his summer internship for his Computer Science degree.

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Myth #4: Working at camp won’t look good on my resume.

Like any job, it all depends on how you present yourself and your skills! Don’t just put on your resume, “I worked at a summer camp as a cabin counselor and played basketball.” Describe what you actually gained from the experience, and demonstrate the skills you can offer: “While working at a residential summer camp for three months, I supervised and mentored a cabin of 8 campers, while creating and implementing daily basketball practice plans, game strategy, and coaching for 8-16 year olds.” You worked hard to practice communication, responsibility, maturity, and dedication all summer - now’s the time to share that!

When describing your experience as a counselor, the American Camp Association recommends the following: “Using active language, amplify the job title with descriptive terms that detail your duties, as well as the nature of time commitment you dedicated to your summer camp employer and the results you achieve.” Active language means using words like, “manage,” “collaborate,” “facilitate,” “instruct,” and “train,” to enhance the core qualifications you possess.

Working at camp actually looks great on a resume, and no one knows that better than our network of camp families and alumni! As an added bonus, being a Falling Creek staff member connects you to a network of alumni and parents who are successful business owners and employers across the world. We are frequently asked to refer our talented staff members to alumni looking to hire. Our alumni network understands the broad set of skills you possess, because they realize what it takes to be a good camp counselor.

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Myth #5: I could be doing something more worthwhile.

The working hours at camp are demanding, but what could be more worth your time than making a difference in the lives of young people? If the benefits we listed above haven’t already convinced you, just think about the chance you’ll have to make a positive and lasting impact on others.

You’ll make lifelong friends from all over the world - but don’t just take our word for it! Read about the benefits of camp from staff themselves in Riley’s story or Reid’s story. You can also browse our alumni stories, or hear from former campers who became staff members themselves.

Convinced? We hope you’ll fill out a New Staff Interest Form and join us on the mountain! Still not sure? Schedule a virtual coffee with us to chat over the phone or video call and get your questions answered. Be part of our team this summer!

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