How Working at a Sleep-Away Camp Prepared Me for College

This past summer before starting college, I spent two months living and working at a sleep-away camp about 40 minutes from Erie, Pennsylvania. Now, this wasn’t my first time at this camp. I’ve spent up to four weeks there every summer since I was 10. However, this was my first time working as a counselor and by far the longest time I’d spent away from home. Working at camp was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had, and it prepared me for college in more ways than one.

Communal Bathrooms

Aaahh, communal bathrooms. The communal bathrooms at camp are a little different than the ones at Pitt. Picture this: if I want to take a shower, I have to walk through a field and if it’s late enough at night, try my best to avoid the raccoons raiding the trash cans outside the bathroom lodge’s door. But the concept is the same. For the older age groups alone, there are 70 girls sharing six showers and four sinks, and after nine years, let me tell you I have seen it all in those bathrooms. Tower A’s bathrooms? That’s the Ritz compared to the ones at camp.


As a counselor, I lived in one room with 7 campers. This has more than prepared me for living with a roommate. Compared to living with seven eight-year-olds, sharing a room with one person my age is a piece of cake.


While Market Central is definitely a gigantic step up from camp cuisine, working at camp has prepared me for having no choice but to eat some… questionable meals.  The amount of times camp can serve cold-cuts for a meal? The limit does not exist.

Being away from home

I spent my entire summer at camp. By the time I finally went home, I only had two weeks before I left for college. So being away from home wasn’t that big of a change for me. Homesickness? I don’t even know her! Okay, I might know her a little bit because working six days a week with only an hour-long break per day and two “nights” off per week definitely drove me to miss home a few times. However, I was able to manage my homesickness in a healthy way and the times that I happen to feel homesick here at Pitt, I know I can handle it. 

Meeting new people 

I spent two months meeting new people. Not only did I have to get to know the rest of the people on staff, but every week I had a new batch of campers I had to get to know and whose names I had to memorize. Name games anyone? I had to be outgoing whether I liked it or not, and because of this I gained real confidence. Once I got to Pitt, I had no issue striking up conversations with people I didn’t know, slipping into conversation like we were old friends.