Fitting the Camp Counselor Experience on Your Resume

How do you quantify the experiences and life lessons you learn around a camp fire, out on activities, or in the cabin with your campers and co-counselors into resume snippets? In a role where you are manager, advisor, teacher, playmate, caregiver, hairdresser, coach and so much more, how do you even begin to explain everything you learned and gained during those high school summers?

Camp is something that has shaped my young adult life beyond buzz words and resume bullets that sometimes future employers don’t understand or appreciate. When I left Camp Seafarer after my final summer in 2016, they sent home with me an amazing Staff Resume Resource. Below are the highlights of that document, mixed with my own tips for how to effectively translate to your resume the myriad of experiences, skills, and character traits you develop as a summer camp counselor.

Translate your camp title to a real world title.

Someone who has never been to camp isn’t going to recognize or understand all the camp lingo, acronyms and jargon. Make sure you are labeling and describing your position in common terms that any future employer would recognize and value.

For example, a “Senior-In-Charge” could be labeled “Senior Cabin Team Manager”. This is someone who is ultimately responsible for the cabin and leads not only the campers in her cabin but also her “Junior Counselors” or “Assistant Cabin Team Leaders”.

Don’t discount soft skills.

You may be reluctant to include all of the character traits, values and interpersonal skills you built upon as a camp counselor, but these soft skills are not to be diminished. Beyond the hard skills needed to complete a job effectively, employers are looking for someone who can add a good attitude, hard work, dedication and even just fun to a team. Some soft skills that all camp counselors have include:

  • Empathy – When your camper was homesick, a parent had very particular requests or your co-counselor needed a minute alone to compose herself after a hard day.
  • Leadership – When you empowered young campers to believe in themselves and try again when they failed. When you equipped them with the tools and reassurance they needed to set goals and see them though to fruition.
  • Communication – When you taught a camper a new skill, explained a camper’s homesickness effectively to a parent or settled a dispute between campers calmly and effectively.
  • Teamwork – When you and your cabin counselor team somehow made every day magical for each and every camper – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 11 amazing weeks.

Being a camp counselor is honestly one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever love. Let that passion shine through in your resume and interview. Working and living with children, peers and superiors takes all those skills above and beyond.

General Resume Tips for Camp Counselors

You should keep your resume to NO MORE than a page long and make bullet points under each job position that begin with an action verb.

Some key action words for camp counselors include:

Managed

Directed

Achieved

Certified

Enabled

Encouraged

Facilitated

Collaborated

Instructed

Operated

Led

Mentored

Developed

Promoted

Solved

Evaluated

Maintained

Implemented

Supervised

Taught

Oversaw

Programmed

Performed

Designed

For example, I described my role as Resident Camp Counselor with the following:

  • Managed, supervised and took responsibility for daily activities of a diverse group of girls.
  • Fostered character and skill development including teamwork, listening, initiative, kindness and responsibility.
  • Developed solutions for camper conflicts; taught camper’s problem solving strategies.
  • Communicated with campers, supervisors, parents, administration and peers.
  • Collaborated with other sailing staff to manage the 420 sailboat fleet, including repairs and regular maintenance.
  • Taught sailing and safety on the water to children ages 6-16.

You should be ready to elaborate on any bullet points in your resume during an interview. However, do more than give the facts (that’s the resumes job). For the interview, make sure you are prepared with different stories and examples of how you demonstrated those key soft skills. Bring yourself to life. Show your personality. HIGHLIGHT LEADERSHIP. I believe leadership is the most important skill you learn as a camp counselor and one that will set you apart from other young people.

In the end, have confidence in the work you did and the skills you gained as a camp counselor. Let your passion for this role – that is SO much more than just a summer job –  shine through from the resume to interview to hire.

In the Cabin
Fun on a Rainy Day