By Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director
Many people have heard the story of how I started working at Eagle’s Nest: I was a college student studying education. I loved the outdoors, my past experiences at summer camp, and working with kids. I wanted to spend the summer in the mountains teaching kids how to play and doing fun things with cool, creative people; I knew that working at Eagle’s Nest would give me the opportunity to do all of those things – and more! It seemed like a fun summer job. What I didn’t realize was how much that 10 week job would impact my life.
Back in the MTV era of the late 80ties when I was a counselor, there weren’t as many options for summer jobs and experiences as there are now. For the most part students returned home in the summer to lifeguard, wait tables, babysit, work in retail, etc. These days college students have so many more opportunities to travel, learn from internships and work across the country and abroad. There is also a lot of pressure for students to get jobs and internships that will help them with their future career goals. Many colleges and universities pay students or award grant money so that they can work in unpaid internships. With all of the options, sometimes students see working at camp just an off summer to have fun before entering the “real world”. While working at camp is crazy fun, it’s by no means a job that won’t help students on the path to the future. I’d say that working at camp is the BEST job a person could have to prepare them for a life of hard work, creativity, gratitude and JOY!
So, how can working at camp prepare you for life?
In any reference that I write I include the sentence “Camp counselors are some of the most creative, joyful, hardworking, selfless people I know.” What employer wouldn’t want to hire someone who has committed to a summer of planning events, responding to other people’s needs, teaching lessons, empathizing with others, and being responsible for the safety and care of other people’s children? At camp counselors learn to unclog toilets, create hilarious events using just cardboard, old newspapers and glue, grease watermelons, respond to emergencies (and have the judgement necessary to prevent them), learn new skills and so much more. It’s a job that teaches work ethic, critical decision making, communication skills, resilience and creativity, among other things. And of course there’s dancing, singing, exploring, starry nights, waterfall, and glitter; lots of glitter!
As Mike Latner writes in his blog post for the American Camp Association Camp as a Springboard: Three Camp Characteristics Applicable to any Career, “I worked for years at camp, in a variety of positions, not because I was focused on my career, but because of the feeling I got doing the work. I enjoyed it. I was happy. But at the time, I could not articulate how camp was preparing me for ‘the real world’, or giving the skills that I would need to call upon later in life. Now, after starting my own nonprofit organization, I realize that camp gave me invaluable skills that have led me to a meaningful and fulfilling career.” Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga were camp counselors, and Disney CEO Michael Eisner attributes his experiences as a summer camp counselor as some of the most impactful leadership experiences that he’s had.
If you or someone you know is looking for a meaningful, impactful, FUN summer opportunity, apply to work at camp. You can find out more about working and complete an application here. We hope to hear from you!