The Value of a Summer Camp Job
Robbie Faryniarz was a camper from 2006-2013 and a staff member from 2015-2017. Written last year, this is his reasoning for working at summer camp and why more people should do it.
I am what you may call a ‘camp kid.’ Every year since 2006 I have ventured from my house in Connecticut to my home away from home in Minnesota. I still remember things about the last summer at home before I became a Camp Lincoln camper. My older brother and sister both went that year while my parents thought I should wait for one more year. The 3 of us went to New York City for a day. I had just seen the movie Madagascar for the first time and afterward could not wait to go see the lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes, and penguins at the Central Park Zoo. Unfortunately, the movie lied and none of those animals were even at the zoo. Next, I lost one of my favorite stuffed animals and when we tried to get a cab he decided he did not want to drive us where we needed to go. I decided the next summer to skip the two weeks and spend a whole month at Camp Lincoln, and since then I have never looked back.
I have worked my way through the ranks at camp. From camper to a member of our Leadership Training program, to general counselor, head counselor, and this summer I will be returning as the Leadership Training Director. I spend my college days at Indiana University where I am in the prestigious Kelley School of Business. I hope to bring a few of my friends with me to work this summer, but there is a belief among these elite students that the only thing they can do in the summer to pad their resume is to lock down a great internship. In fact, they seem incredulous when I tell them I am going back to work at a summer camp for the third year. Somehow it is preventing me from being successful in the long run since it does not give any business experience, which is what all the companies are looking for in a finance major, like myself, post-graduation. Why risk not finding a job so that I can go hang out and have fun all summer?
The truth is I value my job as a counselor as much as an internship, and trust in my abilities to make an employer value them just as much. As an 18-year old, I became responsible for the lives of 14 7-year olds for 2 weeks. It was my first year on staff and I had only graduated high school a few months prior. I was one of the youngest counselors in my camp’s history and had to not only make sure my kids were safe and healthy but to make sure they had the same life-changing experience that I had as a camper. Those 2 weeks were a massive learning experience for me. I had 2 campers who were extremely homesick to the point that they were beginning to hurt the camp experience for everyone else in the cabin. I struggled immensely that year with those 2 campers, as well as 3 others with different mental disabilities. Those 2 weeks taught me conflict resolution, teamwork by working with my co-counselors to help aid our homesick campers, leadership by promoting traditions of camp for all, and so many other skills required for success in the business world.
This past summer was my second year on staff and my first full summer. Despite my history, I was incredibly nervous. I was the first of all my friends from previous years to arrive and the people who arrived before me had already become close friends. Would they accept me? Over the next few weeks of work crews (physical preparation of camp), I realized how crazy it was for me to think anything could possibly go wrong. I made some of my closest friends and had some of the best times of my life, and the kids had not even arrived yet! I can confidently say that a popular camp phrase, CFAB, or camp friends are best, is even more true for counselors. Without a doubt, this was the best summer of my entire life.
If you are approaching your first summer after freshman year, or believe there is only one way to build your resume I can confidently say that is not the case. As college kids, we only have a limited number of years left before we have to enter the ‘real world.’ Why not do what genuinely makes us happy? Any job we have can teach us the skills required to succeed once we graduate. I have learned throughout my time at camp that in the future I want a job with as much human interaction as possible. I have developed strong leadership skills, learned how to self-motivate and motivate others, worked on multiple teams, solved very challenging problems, and improved my time management skills. Every single day I improve life skills that will be tested daily when I join the business world. I did this all while fishing, playing frisbee, and making amazing memories. Clearly, there is value in working at camp, so my question is -what are you waiting for?