Summer Camp. Just those two words bring a flood of memories to many, many people. For some it’s as a camper, for others it’s camper and staff and for still others it’s a matter of adding to those memories because they’re still involved maybe as the Director or in the case here at Rocky Ridge Ranch because we “live and move and have our being” here!!
Young people and adults are excited at the thought of working at camp. Too often, though, they hear the words from parents, friends and others – “When are you going to get a real job?” If those folks only knew! Nothing could be more real!!
RRR has been in existence for over 45 years. We have seen countless Alumni come back for visits, to bring their children and grandchildren to camp. A comment often made is “I learned so much here that has made a difference in my career”. They clearly understand just how important a role camp has played in their lives other than an enjoyable experience where friendships are made, renewed and strengthened. In researching articles, blogs, etc., to back up my thoughts I found many that support the advantages and importance of camp. We should keep in mind that each and every day at camp brings new opportunities and challenges. David Larsen of the Alberta Camping Association offered these words of advice for young camp counsellors, “Tell them, they will never have a more important job!”
In an editorial for an Ontario Camps Association newsletter, Peter McMahon wrote, “I often think how lucky camp counsellors are. I envy them sometimes – more than any captain of industry or politician, they have the chance to make a difference at the most crucial time and place in a person’s life.”
A Globe and Mail article written on April 22nd, 2013 talks about Prime Minister Trudeau’s experience as a camp counsellor – a job that does prepare you for leadership. You can read the whole article here http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/why-being-a-camp-counsellor-is-great-training-for-becoming-a-prime-minister/article11428334/?page=all. One statement in that article that jumped out at me was “Where else in life do leaders learn to solve conflicts in a group and help individuals find their way to peace so they can live together in harmony?”
Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 to 2005, says, “Camp taught me a lot of little things, and the experiences accumulated into some big ‘stuff,’ stuff that builds backbone and teaches lessons that keep popping up in adulthood. I developed my values and knowledge at summer camp. For me, camp really mattered.”This quote is taken from Camp, a book he dedicated to the subject. (http://www.campkodiak.com/why-work-at-kodiak )
Camp counselors have a combination of flexibility and interpersonal savvy that makes them good leaders. I always thought that the kind of person who chooses to be a camp counselor is likely already an affable and mature person. But many educators have come to recognize that summer camp, and specifically being a counselor, fosters precisely the skill that we value so highly in young adults: taking responsibility. Caring for younger children helps teenagers learn how to be more mature themselves. (http://ideas.time.com/2012/07/10/aummer-camp-can-it-make-kids-more-responsible/ Erika Christakis and Nicholas A. Christakis: Is Empathy the New Scapegoat?)
BECAUSE OF CAMP. . .®
At camp, when children make new friends, explore the world around them, and learn that “I can” is much more powerful than “I can’t”, magic happens. In an environment created just for them, children learn real life skills, develop self-esteem, and gain a sense of independence and community. Whether children are playing, exploring nature, conquering new heights, or becoming part of a camp family, they are creating memories that will last a lifetime. To think that your son or daughter has a part in this should make you a proud, supportive parent. And, keep in mind that it’s not just counsellors who have an impact on young lives. At Rocky Ridge Ranch every staff member is a counsellor in some way. All have connections and influences on the young lives in our care. The ability to think on their feet, tackle issues in living at camp head-on and think creatively as they seek solutions for any dilemma will serve them well in their future endeavours. Our staff who move on to post-secondary education have been very successful. We hear from professors, employers and often through staff themselves how impressed they are with their work ethic. Where was that encouraged? You know where!!
And finally, some thoughts by Tom Rosenberg, President/CEO of the American Camping Association as he writes about “3 Reasons to Choose a Job at Camp Instead of a Summer Internship”.
- At camp, you are responsible for more than just yourself.
- You get to work in an inspirational environment.
- You can develop professional skills to take with you throughout your career.
I strongly encourage you to click on the following link to read what he has to say about each of these points. (http://www.acacamps.org/news-publications/blogs/counselors-corner/3-reasons-choose-job-camp-instead-summer-internship)
I hope that reading this short blog has given you a greater understanding of the importance, value and opportunities that working in a camp environment offers. It’s not always the financial aspect that makes the difference. It’s the character, integrity and success of the person that matters most in the end.