Can Camp Work be a Career Choice?
Working at a camp as a career:
You’re scrolling through the camp job options, dreaming of canoes and beaches and warm sunny days when that nagging voice shows up:
“Get a real job. Join the real world.”
We hear stories of folks being given the “real job” talk a lot. Well, we can confirm that camp jobs are not only real jobs, but they build broadly marketable skills that can help you turn your camp gig into a long-term career or transition smoothly into whatever’s next.
Whether you need personal encouragement, or just some ammunition for your next conversation with your concerned relatives, consider the following:
Camping is a real industry
Just like finance or education or the tech industry, we are a full-on industry replete with professional associations, technical trainings, career pathways, conferences, job fairs, and all that other “real world” good stuff. We even have our own acronyms! We just skip the cubicles and replace them with beaches!
Camping can offer a solid career path
People tend to hold their childhood camps close to their hearts, so lots of camp careers start at a camp you grew up with. And sure, some of us may be trying to relive youthful glory days. But most of us will move across camps and programs, and up career ladders, throughout our lives.
Working at one camp hardly means staying there forever – there are a host of other opportunities: some seasonal and some year round, some more educational and others more recreational, some serving the general public with others targeting specific demographics. Indeed, some movement between camps is a very good thing.
You might start out as a counselor and end up a camp director or owner. This may happen by moving up the ladder within a camp, or through a series of moves. Work hard, look for growth opportunities within your camp or new leads outside your camp, and you can be on your way.
Careers in camping can support the good life
There’s more on what it’s like to work at camp HERE, but here is the quick and dirty: long hours, unpredictable hours, emotionally intense crisis response, and a whole lot of joy and community that makes it all worthwhile.
You’ll learn how to put in long hours at a camp, but you’ll also be constantly reminded of the things older, wiser people nearly universally say give life meaning: healthy relationships with other people and yourself. Camps allow you to work in teams, make a difference, grow professionally and personally.
Camping teaches marketable and transferable skills
Strong teams are the backbone of a strong business. But what makes a strong team? Camp people. While we do have to keep the singing out of the workplace (or do we?) the work we’ve been doing for years is now being dressed up in buzzwords like “EI” (emotional intelligence) or “human development.”
Companies want people who can work together, solve problems creatively, adjust on the fly, and tolerate a bit of uncertainty with gusto – all things camps foster (Resource). What this means is camp can simultaneously offer you opportunities for an awesome career in camps AND prepare you for an awesome career somewhere else, should you ever want to leave.
Camp work can grow into roles in fields like marketing, risk management, training, alumni relations, health care, and many more.
Sounds pretty “real world” to us. And who knows – you might just find it’s a better world than the alternatives! Just make sure you know what you are getting into.
Once you have, a job at a camp is a great place to start a long, successful career. And we are happy to help you get started!