About Dan

Dan Weir is the Director of Camping Services at Frost Valley YMCA, a host on the CampHacker Podcast, sports a beard, online way too much. He writes about summer camp and youth development.  He tweets (look below!) at @danlovescamp.

Dan Weir also writes at Unplug at Camp!

 

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Sunday
Dec132009

The two things I look for when hiring summer camp staff

Happy and want to work with kids.

1) Happy means what it is.  Working at a summer camp means living at a summer camp. The days are extremely long.  Since you are living with children, you are even technically working while you sleep.  A positive attitude is a key factor in succeeding in this exhausting environment.  You have to get up every morning, love who you are, where you are, and what you are going to do that day.  This leads to:

2) You have to want to work with kids.  I can’t stress how important it is to have this passion.   In an interview, I can tell within three questions if you truly enjoy being around children. I can tell right away if you are only applying if because you’ve heard it is fun, you want to stay out of your parents’ house, or you want to work in the United States.  Campers are waiting all year to be at camp with you.  I hire people who are waiting all year for summer camp to begin.

If being a positive role model at a place where you can truly influence a child (or teen) doesn’t excite you, find another “summer” job.  The responsibilities for working at a camp go well beyond the summer.

Reader Comments (4)

I couldn't agree more.

I interview applicants to summer camp from the UK and in our first question "Why do you want to go to camp?" you can tell if they are going for the right reasons (the campers and/or personal development) or not (to extend student life, just in another country).

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Seddon

I also ask them "Can you leave your dignity at the door?". In other words, will you dress up on spirit days? Can you be silly and not worry about being cool? WIll you jump in the pool with all your clothes on? etc. etc.

Happy is great, but FUN is what I also need, if possible.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid S.

I would also add work ethic as something to look for. Being a camp counselor is a REALLY hard job, and if someone appears to be lazy or demonstrates an attitude that seems to be someone who isn't willing to be exhausted at the end of EVERY day, then they probably don't belong in camp regardless of their passion.

January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJared

Jared, I agree. I think work ethic stems from passion. For some, they are passionate about doing a good job alone. For others, they need to love their subject matter in order to be passionate about their job. If someone wants to work with kids, their work ethic will follow.

February 26, 2010 | Registered CommenterDan Weir

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