Leaders in the real world (of camp)

By BJ Murray, Senior Operations Director

I want to confess a pet peeve of mine. Our summer camp staff often hear from well-meaning adults that after working at camp, they’re going to have to enter the “real world” someday. I find that pretty funny, because here you have a college-age person who has been given an enormous responsibility—caring for the safety and well-being of children—and just because they have fun while bearing this responsibility, it’s not the “real” world?

Our summer staff are some of the most amazing leaders I know. They speak and sing in front of hundreds of children—keeping them engaged and learning the entire time. How many adults could do the same? Our staff lifeguard down at the lake, belay children 50 feet into the air at our Alpine Tower, introduce them to horseback riding up at the barn, guide them into the prairie for campout night, shoot bows and arrows with them at the archery range and so much more—all with a joyful heart and an unparalleled attention to safety. They understand that they have been entrusted with the care of something more priceless than anything—a person’s child. What could possibly be more real than that? And though camp is fun, it’s no fairytale where all the children are well-behaved and everything goes the way you hope it will. Camp is a real world filled with challenges and surprises and our young staff go beyond their job duties and transform into exceptionally caring, responsible leaders under the weight of their responsibilities.

What’s more, in addition to their duties to master logistics and safety, our staff are also aware of their responsibility as role models—teaching campers values, good character and relationship skills. They are planting the seeds for campers who will soon become leaders themselves. By the way, they are doing all of this in 100 degree heat, while working 23 hours a day (they get an hour break) and with very little pay. They play the role of mom, dad, big brother, favorite aunt, best friend, confidant, and guide. They understand that they have a lot of influence over the children in their care—and they take it very seriously. I believe these college “kids” have much to teach us all about true leadership. And because of our summer staff’s caring example, campers are inspired to become leaders themselves.

So, please let me assure you, camp is a very real world, filled with responsibility and hard work. It’s just that the amazing young men and women we hire as staff every summer make it look like it’s all fun and games. Their enthusiastic model of leadership is already transforming children’s lives in this very real world we call camp.

We are still looking for a few exceptional role models to work at camp this summer. Apply to be one of our summer leaders today.