Five Reasons Being a Camp Counselor is a Real Job

Two years ago, one of my professors asked me if I had an internship lined up for the summer. When I told her that I didn’t, but I had signed up to work at the summer camp I had once been a camper at instead, her exact response was, “Well, don’t you ever want to be a real journalist and get a real job?”

Sadly, that professor isn’t the only person out there who thinks working at a summer camp is a waste of time. What they don’t understand is that being a camp counselor is more than just singing around a campfire and having fun; it also teaches you valuable skills that can someday translate into the traditional workplace. So, in response to that professor and all others who think being a camp counselor isn’t a “real” job, here are five reasons why it totally is!


You’re forced to learn how to work with others.

While many internships at a marketing firm or magazine may have you working on solo projects while reporting to a supervisor, at a summer camp, you’re forced to work in close proximity with people every second of every day. You have to learn how to communicate with people who come from different backgrounds and have different personalities. You have to collaborate and compromise, and you have to totally depend on each other’s support in order to succeed. Those are all skills that are valued in a “real” workplace, right?


You’re suddenly faced with hella responsibility. 

One day, you’re just a person who signed up to be a camp counselor and have a good time. The next, you’re suddenly responsible for at least a dozen other human beings. That’s no small feat. You have to make sure that they’re all accounted for, safe, having fun, getting along… and if you’re a sleepaway camp counselor like me, forget it! Then you also have to make sure that they’re eating, sleeping, and bathing. As a college-aged young adult, there are very few other jobs that force you to have that much responsibility.


You have supervisors, just like in a “real” job.

When you have that much responsibility, camp administrators have no choice but to be super into your business. They want to know what’s going on when, how you’re getting along with your campers and co-staff, and what you’re struggling with. They may not always wear a suit and tie like an office manager, but they take their job seriously and expect you to, too. Plus, this teaches you how to interact well with superiors and take positive criticism. 


You grow so much as an individual.

You’re bound to learn a lot about yourself when you’re faced with so much responsibility and constantly surrounded by others. You learn about your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and goals. I, for instance, have learned that I love working with kids, but have much more patience for teenagers than little kids. This new knowledge could even help you better understand yourself in an academic and professional setting, too. 


You help others. 

Sometimes, a job is supposed to be about more than making money. When I have campers tell me that camp is the first place they ever felt loved or that camp has helped them rediscover their self-confidence, I remember just how big of a difference camp, and the people who work there, make in these kids’ lives. If that’s not a rewarding job, I don’t know what is.



I’ve spent the last four summers working at my beloved camp, and every summer, I think back on my professor’s words. My answer to her question? My summer job is a real job, not just because of the reasons I listed above, but also because it’s real to me, and to the co-staff, administration and campers I’ve worked with. And I guess at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. 


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