Dreaming of spending the summer in the Californian sun, working by a lake in New York, or even horse riding in Texas? Camp America offers a life-changing opportunity to work in the states, where you really can have the best summer ever.
I loved my experience at camp, so much that I have been working summers in California for three years now. Don’t get me wrong, working at a summer camp is hard work. You have hardly any privacy, working all day in the hot sun, up at all hours of the night with homesick kids; but you get so much out of it, making it all worthwhile. (Even when you get asked for the hundredth time, what is for dinner).
So you have decided you want to spend the summer lapping up the sun in the states, now you have to make that dream a reality. The application is pretty straightforward; you can apply online and Camp America are pretty good at guiding you through it – but here are my top tips for making your application stand out for potential camps.
Be Prepared. Make sure you have as many documents as you can ready, so that your application is ready to go, as and when each part is completed.
- Send off for your police check
- Get 2 references (not from family members – someone in a professional capacity)
- Put together a list of skills you can contribute
- Create a video showcasing your talents
- If you don’t have a range of skills volunteering can boost your experience and skill set. Volunteer at a school, local sports team, local leisure centre etc. – to boost your experience.
SKILLS. You are required to put down at least 3 skills for your application. Skills like swimming/lifeguarding, horse riding, watersports, sports, art, and creative subjects are always a popular choice; as a lot of camps will need these types of counsellors. But there is a huge variety of skills that you can put down. For example, I studied journalism at University as part of my PR degree. I put journalism down as a skill because a lot of camps have their own newspaper or radio station – opening my application up to more camps. I know some people who put down yoga and even magic. The more skills you have the more flexible you can be. A lot of camps will have general counsellors, so if you can work across a variety of subjects you will be more attractive to camps.
TIP: If you are struggling with ideas, search for camps online and look at their activities, see if there is anything on camp websites that you could add as a skill. If you are hoping to go to a specific type of camp, look into their activities and see what they look for in a counsellor.
EXPERIENCE: If you don’t have a lot of experience working with children, or you don’t have a lot of skills to put down, try to take part in something that can help your application. I had a few things from school that I could use both for skills and experience with kids, however it was quite a long time ago and I wanted to get more, up-to-date experience to help my application. I went and did some work experience at a local school, to boost my application. I took pictures while I was there to add to my application as well. You could help out at a community centre with kids, work at a local school, volunteer for a local children’s sports team. Google events going on in your local town and help out at any relevant events that you can find. It will give you something to add to your application, and something recent to talk about in your interview with a camp director.
FLEXIBILITY. You will be asked to put your availability on your application. The earlier you are available and the later you can leave, will improve your chances at getting hired. Be flexible.
BIG YOURSELF UP. This is your chance to impress a camp. Make sure that you show how enthusiastic you are and how much you want to go to camp. Camp Counsellors are required to be upbeat and energetic all the time while working, show that you are willing to get involved in anything, with enthusiasm!
VIDEO. A video is a great way to catch the attention of an employer. A Camp Director is going to see A LOT of applications for staff. A video provides a great opportunity to create a fun and engaging way to showcase your skills. Keep it light and upbeat, show off your talents in a fun and quick video. Don’t try and put a lot of information into the video – you just want to catch their eye, then they can read more about you on your application. Keep it short, show you are fun and exciting and that you will be a great addition to the team. Humour is a great way to peak your viewers interest, but make sure it is appropriate – you’ll be working with kids so keep it clean! Here is the link to my video, it is a bit old now (excuse the bleach blonde hair), but you get the idea.
Social Media. Make sure all your social media accounts are either private, or kid friendly! Prospective employers are bound to google you – pictures of you downing alcopops in Rems at the weekend, is not going to give a good impression. If you have twitter or intagram, post some updates about camp or America, showing how excited you would be to go.
Once you have filled out your personal information you can upload your references and make your first payment. After this is completed you will be able to choose an interviewer, and then a location and time to meet them. The interview is a really relaxed affair. They just want to make sure you are who you say you are and that you have some relevant skills that you can take to camp. I took a portfolio of skills and experience to support my application. This gave me something to refer back to in the interview. The interviewer could then tell me if it was appropriate and something I could show/talk about to camps. They will help guide you with what specifically you can do to help your application.
For interview tips check out this post.
Wait. After your application is finalised and you have made all your payments, your application is activated for potential camps to look at your profile. If like me you are quite an impatient person this can be the most agonising part. When I applied I decided I wanted to get the ball rolling, so I researched camps that were affiliated with Camp America and found ones that I really wanted to go to. I had never been to the west coast of America so I looked at camps around California and put together an email. I didn’t go into too much detail in my email; I just explained that I was really interested in their camp and gave them my video application link and Camp America application number, so they could find out more about me. I got my placement from one of the camps that I emailed, in California. (My director told me later that my video was what made him get in touch!)
GET PLACED! Camp America was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to do it all over again. The kids are hilarious, and helping them grow and learn gives you and them, a huge sense of accomplishment. You also meet some of the best people, from all over the world and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. So ace your application and embark on the summer of a lifetime. For more tips about the application click HERE for a video on the process.