The following originally appeared on the Huffington Post Blog on September 17th, written by Caroline Davis:
Everyone knows that college and stress go hand in hand. The looming threat of the “real world” is only a handful of semesters away, and big decisions have to be made about your life at some point between now and then. Majors, minors, grad school, internships, and applications all question you at once, and suddenly you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt and exhaustion.
What’s my best remedy for this unparalleled time of stress? Go to camp.
The hazy summer memories come floating back at the mention of the word, and suddenly you’re nine years old again singing silly songs and making arts and crafts.
Camp is the ultimate gift for a child; it gives kids the ability to be free and explore athletic, creative, and social outlets in the most nurturing and accepting of environments. Essentially, it’s a place where kids can be kids, and the healing that results from this type of environment extend to those who work with the campers as well.
This past summer I decided, on a whim, to give camp counseling a try. I’m a college student without a declared major and a big, ambiguous future ahead of me. I know I’m not the only one who fits this description, and because of my current circumstances, camp entered my life at the perfect time. I found a sense of purpose and direction, and I wasn’t even looking for it.
So what can camp do for you? The list of positives is lengthy, and honestly very individual, but there is no way you can work with kids at camp for a summer and not walk away a better person.
The level of camaraderie among a camp staff is unmatched, because the environment is so unique and tight-knit. It’s a special breed of people that choose to work at summer camps, and their perspectives on life and personal values are refreshing in an age of cheap scams and greedy motives.
In a way, camp lets its employees be young again, and embrace a childlike mentality that grounds you in a time of such pressing demands. Simultaneously, a camp counselor is given an enormous amount of responsibility by being in charge of groups of young children, and ensuring overall safety and well-being.
This level of responsibility helps an emerging adult feel mature and capable of rising to a high standard, which in turn increases self-confidence. A summer as a camp counselor is exhausting, and the pay is low, but at this stage in life, that’s generally manageable.
It’s also a full-time job, unlike many other typical college jobs, and scheduling around a full-time schedule is an important life skill. The counselors become masters of social interaction, since the job demands you to connect with kids, peers, supervisors, and of course, parents.
It stretches you creatively, keeping you on yours toes since every day is a new adventure and the plans are always changing. Camp counselors are given numerous opportunities to teach, listen, support, mediate, aid, lead, and make critical decisions. There is no career that doesn’t implement these skills, meaning there is no person who would be wasting their time by spending a summer at camp.
So go back to your glory days, put on that tie-dye t-shirt, and begin making a difference in children’s lives. The rewards are immeasurable, and the experience of a summer spent at camp will sharpen the skills you need for your career — even if you have no idea what that might be yet.