It’s not just for kids: The benefits of working at camp

What do Denzel Washington, Penny Marshall, Nancy Grace, Garrison Keillor, and Michelle Obama have in common?

They all worked at summer camps!

A summer job at camp — whether as a counselor, coach, or even a dishwasher — can be a life-changing experience. More than half a million college students will work at camps across the nation this summer, although there’s no age limit on loving camp. At Bryn Mawr this summer, we’ll welcome back staff members of all ages from all over the country.

Working at camp is a great way to learn more about yourself and gain work experience. But those aren’t the only benefits! Here’s a quick rundown of our favorite reasons to work at camp:

You’ll make lifelong friendships.

Campers aren’t the only ones who make new buddies at camp. Living, working and playing at camp 24/7, you’ll be surprised how quickly your new coworkers become close friends. We love hearing from Bryn Mawr staff members who have stayed close to their co-counselors over the years, sometimes traveling around the world to get together, standing up for one another at weddings, and remaining good friends long after their summers at camp ended.

You’ll gain valuable work experience.

Working at camp is clearly helpful if you want to work in education or youth development, but the experience you’ll gain can give you an advantage in just about any field or profession. As a camp counselor, you’ll spend the summer honing your skills in problem solving, organization, leadership, cooperation, and flexibility. Those are qualities that translate to any job you may hold in the future, whether you plan to be a surgeon, an astronaut, First Lady of the United States, or a stay-at-home parent.

You’ll meet people from around the world.

At camp, our staff members come from around the U.S. and around the globe. You’ll make friends from all over the country, plus Canada, the U.K., Australia, and more! Having coworkers from around the globe isn’t just interesting — it’s the perfect way to learn how to work best with someone who comes from a completely different background than you do. (And when you decide to do some international traveling of your own, it will be easy to find a place to stay!)

You’ll build character.

We hate to use that cliché, but it’s true. Camp is hard work! The days are long, busy and sometimes exhausting. Coaching and teaching can be challenging. And sometimes your co-counselor will drive you crazy. But all the hard work pays off when you see the difference you make — the smile you coax out of a homesick camper, the moment you see a camper master the backhand you’ve been working on, the night off spent relaxing with best friends who were strangers just a few weeks earlier. You’ll go home at the end of the summer stronger, more confident, and ready to face whatever challenges the world may bring.

You might discover something surprising about yourself.

Denzel Washington was working as the creative arts director at a YMCA camp in Connecticut when he performed for campers in a talent night skit. Afterward, a coworker asked him if he’d ever considered a career as an actor. Back at school in the fall, Denzel changed his major to drama — and, well, the rest is Hollywood history! A summer at camp has the potential to draw out of you qualities you didn’t know you had, whether it’s skill in an activity, strength as a teacher or coach, or an unexpected personality trait.

You’ll never be bored.

From sunrise to sunset, each day at camp will be packed to the gills with activities, laughter, surprises, challenges — more than you can imagine fitting into any regular day anywhere else. As we always say, “a day at camp is like a week in the real world.” There’s never a dull moment — we guarantee it.

Ready to learn more about working at camp? Check out the Work @ Camp section of our website!

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