Camp Jobs Rule!

Over half a million college students worked at camp this summer. What makes them seek the camp experience instead of the corporate office? “You work with a broad spectrum of people at camp and you deal with people on all levels,” says John Huck, program coordinator of Camp Ondessonk. “You are challenged to address large groups so you learn public speaking. You organize, motivate others, and lead by example.”

Camp prepares students for corporate America by teaching leadership, team-building, and problem-solving skills – traits that are key to success in the 21st century. By working with groups of campers, camp counselors learn to build relationships, motivate groups, and negotiate positive outcomes in conflicts. They manage risks, make decisions, and prioritize activities.

Camps insure that counselors will be prepared for their duties by providing training prior to the camp season. During these seven to ten days of instruction, counselors learn child development skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, etc. Learning continues throughout the camp season with on-going training opportunities. Many camp staff members also hold specialty certifications in concentrated areas.

ACA Executive Director Peg Smith states, “Camp complements the academic skills that are learned in school with experiential life-based skills.”

Leaders in the business world attest to how camp prepares students to meet corporate demands. Many successful leaders in numerous fields attribute their achievements to camp experiences in their childhood and youth. For example, Henry Thomas, President and CEO of the Urban League in Springfield, Massachusetts, says his experiences at Camp Atwater — one of the country’s oldest camps for African-American children — gave him self-confidence, self-definition, and a network of friendships for life.

Thomas states, “Camp Atwater has many distinguished former campers, many with whom I have kept in touch with for years, including:

  • Dennis F. Hightower, Professor of Management at Harvard University Graduate School of Business and Administration and former president of Walt Disney Television and telecommunications.
  • Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., former chairman and CEO of TIAA-Cref and Former Undersecretary of State
  • Hazel O’Leary, Former Secretary of Energy
  • Samuel R. Pierce, Former Secretary of HUD
  • Elma Lewis, MacArthur Foundation recipient for dance
  • Gretchen Palmer, Actress
  • Kenneth I. Chenault, president and COO of American Express.”

“It [working at camp] taught me that I really am a leader, not just a follower,” says Sara Bell, summer staff member of Camp Ondessonk.

The American Camping Association (ACA) diverse 5000-plus membership including camp professionals, child psychologists, students and educators is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the camp experience. ACA believes camp is a safe and nurturing environment, a caring community, and a vital element in a child’s education. ACA believes camp embraces children with the strength of community, citizenship, character/self-esteem building, and acceptance, giving children a world of good and playing a crucial role in their positive development. ACA is the only organization that accredits all types of camps based on 300 standards for health, safety and program quality. Visit ACA’s Web site, or call 1-800-428-CAMP for more information.

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Washington FAMILY Staff

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