Professional Skills Developed At CampPosted by on July 21, 2017

For generations college and university students have had summer jobs.  Not long ago the focus of a summer job was to earn money for the school year.  In today’s world of ever-growing entry level expectations many students are seeking internships.  Often college students are more concerned about how their job or internship will look on a resume.  Rather than focusing on the skills they will develop.  Part of the magic of working at camp is the amazing experience.  However the growth that counselors experience while working at camp is more magical.  Camp counselors develop professional skills that will benefit them long after the summer.

The impact that summer camp has on the staff members is hard to explain.  Similar to the experience of campers and CITs- it’s something you can’t put into words.  The personal and professional growth that occurs while working at camp is a very unique opportunity.  There are few places where staff are fully immersed in the experience.  They are given true and real responsibilities.  Camp staff are included in problem solving.  And they are expected to solve problems as they arise.  Fernwood Cove counselors lead a variety of activities and events throughout the summer.  Additionally, they develop leadership and communication skills while working in a diverse community.

Professional Skills Through Working with Campers

When camp counselors enter into their first summer they often don’t know what to expect.  Some arrive at camp having been campers.  Some enter the summer having never experienced camp.  Their first images of camp often leave a lasting impression.  One counselor said ” (There’s) so much green and the biggest lake I had ever seen!”  Counselors quickly transition into life at camp, into their home for the summer.  They build relationships with their co-counselors.  And they learn the ins and outs of the camp day.  Soon their focus shifts from their own experiences at camp to preparing for the campers’ experiences that are to come.

During staff training counselors gain a multitude of skills while they plan for the camp experience.  They quickly understand the importance of taking care of the little things.  And they fine tune their teaching approaches.  They also learn more games than any single individual should ever know.  “I learned so much during Pre-Camp and it made me feel ready for the real work,” remembers one Fernwood Cove staff member.  All of this is done to help ensure each camper has a truly extraordinary experience at Fernwood Cove.

Skill Development In An Experiential Environment

While there is significant learning and growth that occurs during Pre-Camp Staff Training the real learning occurs during the camp session.  Counselors develop professional skills through working with campers.  Camp staff live the experiential learning process each day:

  • Do It: Leading Activities
  • Reflection: What worked?  What didn’t?
  • Conceptualization: Learning from the experience
  • Experimentation: What will I do next time? How will I use what I have learned?

Through this on-going learning process counselors are able to apply the things they have learned.  Then they are able to reflect upon their progress, success, and failures.  Additional feedback from the administrative team coupled with their own experiences supports continued growth.  Each day brings new opportunities to develop skills related to leadership, communication, teamwork, time management, and self-care.  There are few job opportunities that provide hands-on opportunities to learn these skills.  It is even more rare to develop these skills while completing meaningful work.

Professional Skills In A Global Community

One of the most unique aspects of Fernwood Cove is the diverse global community.  Campers, CITs, and staff come to camp from around the world.  Once at 350 Island Pond Road they create a diverse global community.  In this global community everyone learns about different cultures through the sharing of customs and personal stories.  The divisions caused by oceans, languages, and cultures fade away and a web of relationships is formed.  This web of relationships creates the supportive, inclusive relationships that helps each of us to thrive.

Whether it’s in the bunks, focus activities, or on Trip Day, counselors are working alongside co-workers who are different from them.  Collaboration with staff from different countries while planning events.  Leading staff members of varying ages while facilitating camp activities.  Communicating daily plans with co-workers who don’t speak the same language.  Problem solving with those co-workers with Mother Nature throws you a curve ball.  Each is an example of how staff develop professional skills in a global community while working at camp.  Each is a skill needed to be successful in today’s highly competitive professional world.  All are skills often lacking among today’s young adults.

Professional Skills In the Extraordinary World

When young adults hear about jobs at summer camp they often don’t think of them as “real jobs.”  However for those who do choose summer camp they leave the summer armed with a wealth of new skills.  They also leave the summer with a significant level of appreciation for the opportunities they were given while at camp.  They recognize that they were one of the lucky ones.  A Fernwood Cove staff member closed her Banquet speech with, “Everything all of you taught me I’m taking home at the end of the summer.  You all let me be the best version of myself and I will never forget that.  …this magical place will always be a part of me.  Thank you, Fernwood Cove, for helping feel this way, I really appreciate everything you taught me.”  We are proud of our staff members who leave camp a better person.  And we look forward to helping staff develop professional skills in the Extraordinary World for many years to come.