3 Tips for Summer 2020 Camp Job Search

Camps are still hiring for summer 2020 but obviously things are different this year. Here are a few tips to help you find a great job, doing great things this summer.

Be prepared to drive

With COVID rules varying from state to state, and changing day by day. Many camps are reluctant or in the case of New Hampshire camps, not allowed to book flights for staff. This makes arriving by private vehicle a big plus when camps are hiring. Make sure you let camps know you have a car or someone to drive you when you first apply.

This may mean searching for camps a little closer to home but if you are still up for a long road trip, be sure to check AAA COVID-19 Travel Restrictions for up to date information on roads.

Find a day camp

If your sleep away camp is closed, day camps would love to have your experience this summer. In many states, day camps have been declared essential childcare. Bringing your sleep away resume back to a local camp can be great for the camps and for you.

Day camp experiences are very different for staff than sleep away. Aside from the obvious nights at home and weekends off, you may find yourself working with your former teachers and high school friends. This can be an amazing opportunity to reconnect and give back to your community. Give it a try!

Staff with multiple skills are HOT

With many camps forced to modify programming this summer – either because of shorter sessions, new types of programming (like family camps) or smaller camper populations required for distancing – single function specialist may be a rarity. Instead, camps are hiring staff with multiple talents and skill sets. This could be a fantastic opportunity to take a skill set you’d like to develop and gain real experience – maybe even enough skills to move into a new specialty area when staffs fill back out next year.

When applying to camps this summer list everything you can do at camp. Be honest with your abilities – for example, I play recreational tennis well enough to help beginners and I have a successful part-time cookie decorating business — then be prepared to go from cooking class to the courts!

Keep an eye on our social feeds for camps still hiring and be sure to check out CampStaffExpress for ASAP openings!

New Director’s Guide to CampStaff

Fall Staffing season is upon us! And although the volume of new staff inquiries are fractions of what is to come after the Christmas break, the not so hidden value of CampStaff in the fall is that the active database already contains thousands of active job seekers.

(or a Refresher for Directors still recovering from Camp ’19)

Fall Staffing season is upon us! And although the volume of new staff inquiries are fractions of what is to come after the Christmas break, the not so hidden value of CampStaff in the fall is that the active database already contains thousands of active job seekers. Some of which will now have one or more summer’s experience at camp and are now looking to advance their summer responsibilities and job opportunities.

Taking a few minutes to update your camp listings (or start a new one at CampStaff.com) and start your start searches can lead to quality hires. Even though the quantity of applicants is at the low end of the CampStaff staffing cycle. There are quality candidates and historically more to come before Christmas break. After the New Year, all bets are off as they say, because in 2018-2019 staffing season we saw between 11,000 and 12,000 active job seekers.


The annual membership allows for your camp to list as many jobs as you choose. Scroll through and make sure you aren’t overlooking any openings or potential openings. If you don’t see a specific job listed, please let us know. As camp programs evolve, so have our job listings.


Again, camps can make changes as often as you like to both your long and short camp descriptions. Remember the short description appears next to your logo in search results; the long description is in your full profile.

Successful camps tend to use the short description to highlight either targeted camp searches or newly added programs or facilities. (Ie, “Our camp features 3 little league regulation baseball fields, batting cages and day trip to see the Yankees. We are searching for 3 baseball instructors” or “Now hiring wakeboard instructors and boat drivers for 2 newly added Momba Wake Boats” These are changed frequently as application come in.


We know you’ve probably completed a budget analysis from the 2019 summer and have started focusing on how to get the most out of your 2020 staff dollars. If you are like most camps, US staff are considerably cheaper to hire than internationals (especially when all the agency fees are considered). However, for most of us staffing is more than just a cost consideration, it is also the quality of staff you can hire for that cost.

Your membership includes unlimited searches. Get an early jump on filling some key positions or spots you’ve had trouble filling in the past. Target the positions you’ve been forced to pay more for (even though the actual staff member received less cash) and see what’s out there. You might be able to attract real super star staff by paying the same amount for domestic staff as for internationals.

Of course for camps that sponsor their own J-1 program, hundreds of intentional staff list with CampStaff in hopes of securing a visa directly.


Ok, so you’ve been back on campus (or the job or your world tour, whatever) for a few weeks now. Its time to start thinking about camp. To get you going, start with the tips below…

Photo by Julien Bachelet on Pexels.com

Ok, so you’ve been back on campus (or the job or your world tour, whatever) for a few weeks now. Its time to start thinking about camp. To get you going, start with the tips below…


If you know you will be available next summer, update your dates (and the rest of your info) so that you can be available in searches by staffing directors. If you didn’t know already, CampStaff makes a log entry every time you update or modify your profile. Some camps use this search field to find “hot” leads – aka, staff actively looking for jobs. You never know when that perfect camp job might open up!

Put yourself on some radars

Take 5 minutes after updating your info to email your profile to a few DREAM camps. Maybe the ones that were already filled when you applied late last year or maybe one in a new part of the country you want to explore, either way let directors know you are available.Getting yourself on the desk of the staffing directors so they know you are serious can lead to multiple offers. 

Line up 1 job reference

Camps will need 3 job or character references for you as part of the camp’s accreditation requirements (and probably for state regs also) before you are ultimately hired. Reference come from teachers, bosses, family friends, etc. Have at least one lined up this fall or better yet all three. You just need to collect contact info and let the person know they may be contacted by a camp. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIST REFERENCES ON CAMPSTAFF. Instead, just add a simple: “References available upon request” at the bottom of your short bio. Trust us, camps will be impressed!

BONUS: If you worked at a camp last year or the summer before even, reach out to the directors for a reference. Two good things can happen from this: 1. They realize they may lose you and offer you your dream job. 2. You get a glowing reference and a dream job at the next camp! It’s up to you.

Quick Fall TO-DO list for camps

Summer 2019 is in the rearview with 2020 approaching fast on the horizon and you know what that means…staffing season has begun. Here are a few tips to ease you back into the flow and let CampStaff help you get the staffing season off right.

Summer 2019 is in the rearview with 2020 approaching fast on the horizon and you know what that means…staffing season has begun. Here are a few tips to ease you back into the flow and let CampStaff help you get the staffing season off right.

Update your DATES. 

Log into your profile and enter your 2020 dates for camp…including the year! If you don’t, when staff search by availability dates, your 2019 listings may not show up. This seem like an easy one, but has happened, especially when staffing responsibilities have been handed off from last spring to new staffing directors.

Tweak your camp descriptions for the fall staffing season.

Our experience is that staff searching this early in the hiring season are either seasoned pros -veteran staff looking to advance to bigger camp roles, or actual pros – like teachers and coaches looking to lock in summer plans for themselves and their families. Consider featuring some of the things that “experienced” staff find appealing about your camp. Don’t worry, we’ll remind you to switch back when the college aged staff start flooding the job search.

Set your key fall staffing priorities

(Ok, this probably should have been first, but if you only did one thing today, we wanted to be updating the DATES so staff can find you!)

Make a list of your known key needs and a list of your maybe-I’ll-need someones. Odd are these are very specific skill sets and that experience can be very beneficial.

As mentioned above, fall is a great time to find experienced staff for key positions, especially those may have “hit a wall” at their current camp and are looking for a change.

We know you’ve had them at your camp, the very cable assistant waterfront director ready to move up only to be faced with the reality of a great waterfront director of 10 years already in front of them. By now you know ou philosophy – “what’s good for camping is ultimately good for my camp”. We want those #2’s in camping to have opportunities to move up or we absolutely know that we will lose them from camping altogether. There are too many competing summer opportunities for us as a camp industry to think our best and brightest will simply stick around in positions they are unhappy with. The more  of these capable “stars” we can keep in camping, the more people we have to bring in new talent to camping.

5 Tips for Negotiating a Last Minute Summer Camp Job

Photo Credit The Unpolished Barn

It’s the eleventh hour of the summer camp hiring cycle…job seekers are needed, sometimes desperately.  Once you’ve connected with your amazing camp job through CampStaff.com, what’s next? Here are our tips for negotiating the best compensation package possible.

Don’t focus on Salary.  Here’s a little bit of a harsh truth.  Salaries are basically standard at most camps.  Since you will be living and working with your coworkers everyday, smart camp directors avoid salary disparity. Camp is not like a “regular” job. You eat, sleep and work 24/7 with your camp colleagues. Staff will discuss salaries and morale can suffer. Having huge pay disparity like most industries we read about every day, simply will not work in a camp setting… nor should it!  Come to think of it, summer camp may be the one US industry where men and women ALWAYS start on equal pay footing.

So if you can’t ask for a simple salary increase, what are some options?

Travel allowance. Camps have lots of leeway in offering travel compensation. If you are flying by air, this is a no brainer. Last minute flights cost more. However, if you are driving to camp, gas is the same as if you’ve been planning since March. Ask for an increase over the standard gas allowance. Remind the director that having a car at camp is a benefit to camp staff morale and you’ll be happy to include fellow staff on your day off and night out trips. More $ in your pocket and happy staff – Win/Win.

Flexible dates. If you have a wedding or job interview or anything else pre-planned for the summer, be sure to include those in the negotiations. If you play your cards right, you can get these days off with pay in addition to your standard time off. Just ask up front. Camp can work around being short staffed for a few days. Camps already operate when staff are ill – letting the camp in advance when you’ll be taking “sick days” allows for smooth planning. Win/Win

New equipment. If you are a camp specialist – ie, someone teaching an activity – you can work in camp purchased “tools of the trade”. Would a new golf bag help when you interact on the golf course? How about a new tennis racket? Anything that legitimately helps you improve your job performance and the experience of the campers can be asked for. Win/Win

Skills or training. Many camps send staff to update certifications or new skills courses before camp opens. If a lifeguard certification could be beneficial to you (even if you are hired to teach softball!) ask to be included. The more staff with cross training, the better for the camp. For you it’s a few hundred dollars of training you don’t have to come out of pocket for. If your new skills are in-line with your actual camp job, again this is a no brainer for the camp. Win/Win

Charitable contributions. We once had a coach from a low income school district ask, in lieu of a raise one year, to be able to take any sports balls we were “retiring” for his students. We were directing a high end sports camps and basically bought all new balls each summer. Not only did we give him the pick of the balls – but we also gave him the raise. That’s the kind of staff we wanted to keep! Another staff member we hired as a senior team member came from a non-profit camp background. She arranged for our unclaimed lost and found clothing to be sent to her old camp at the end of the summer. Camps are happy to get involved in charitable work. It may not mean more money in your pocket, but that’s not always what’s most important, now is it? JUST A PLAIN OLD WIN ALL AROUND!!!

Bottom line is you have to ASK if you want things to happen. You won’t know until you try. If you are hesitant to negotiate, just remember that the camp has the most to gain by hiring you. Summer camps can’t run without out camp staff!

June is the BEST time to land a camp job

Photo Credit Lourdes Camp, NY

Camps are cranking up for the summer season. Southern camps are in session with the rest of the country soon to follow. A few things happen to camp staffing directors this time of year…and you can use these to your advantage in finding a job!

As camp directors, the three main hurdles that cost us staff and forced us into high speed hiring mode every spring were…

GRADES. Face it, sometimes summer school sessions are necessary.  Spring grades are released and maybe one or two aren’t what you’d expected. Students paying their own way, and those whose parents have set limits find out that a summer class is needed and have to drop out out the job commitment and drop back in to class!

ANOTHER JOB. Ok, we think…no, we KNOW summer camp is the greatest job you can have with the most lifelong benefits. However, as far as pay goes, the room & board and benefits sometimes are greater than the actual cash compensation. This isn’t helpful when unexpected  things happen to student and a cash heavy, live at home job is necessary. We get it.

VISA FALLS THROUGH. Many camps hire a large number of international staff through the J-1 visa program. Sometimes visas fall through at the last minute (delays at embassies or mixed up paperwork) and staff can’t travel to the US. And many times the sponsoring agency doesn’t have a ready, prequalified replacement do to government policies.

So what does that mean to anyone still looking for summer camp job?

The short answer means that if you take a few minutes to update your CampStaff profile to show camp directors that you are still available and very interested…you will get JOB OFFERS TODAY!

Camp directors are updating their job needs daily. You should be checking!

BONUS TIP: If there was a camp you were really interested in during the year but they didn’t have an opening for you, REACH OUT to the camp director…things may have changed. Resend your campstaff profile and show you REALLY want to work there!

DOUBLE BONUS TIP: Let camps know your availability dates, some split season jobs may be open. Maybe a half summer in the White Mountains, followed by a half summer on the California coast is what you want?!?

It’s not too late to find a great summer camp job. Pass this along to any friends who may be interested.

Have Your Best Summer NOW!

Photo Credit Camp Starlight, PA

Look, there are many great resources on how summer camp builds 21st century job skills  and how summer camp jobs are great on resumes and if that’s what you are looking for then you are already way ahead of the game and have probably found the ideal summer camp job.  For the rest of you – the ones living in the NOW – this blog post is for you!

Spend a summer doing the things you love NOW, and get paid to to do them

  • Do your favorite sport, activity, hobby, etc.
  • Travel and explore new areas
  • Have new experiences with new people

The best part is that this won’t end at the close of summer!

1. Your favorite sports, activities, hobbies

Is your passion lacrosse?  Is it woodworking? Canoeing? Art? Climbing? These are the things you are into now. Some of them (like lax) will probably come to an end soon or at least, get seriously downgraded when you hit the “real world” job market. So, why not do them NOW? 

In the very near future (like as soon as you leave college), it will either be hard to get together enough people and gear to play large team sports or start getting pricey to pursue your favorite hobbies. Camps not only provide everything you need to do the activities you love now, but they will also PAY you top do them!

2. Travel

One of the most underrated reasons to spend a summer working at camp is travel. Sure, you understand the obvious – camps are scattered across the whole country so you can pick which area you’d like to see and which attractions you want to be near enough to visit on days off and camp sponsored trips.

But, did you ever consider who else has traveled to work with you at camp? A typical camp staff of 100-200 staff will usually represent a few dozen US states, a hand full of Canadian provinces and at least half a dozen countries.  Think about it…all of these staff did something you did, traveled to a new area for a summer job. NOW, think about all the different places they are from and all the new people to visit there. Your one summer travel destination has grown into an exponential number of lifetime places to travel!

3. New experiences

Have you been itching to try sailing? How about really wanting to learn to throw a pot on a potter’s wheel? If there is something you’ve been wanting to experience and your summer camp offers it then try it NOW! Staff recreation (aka morale boosters) is a big part of most camp’s philosophies and giving staff a chance to try new experiences is a big part of that.

So how many different experiences do summer camps offer? This is a little bit of a trick question. Sure camps will list a plethora of activities on their website but this is really just a starting point for the great summer camps. Those camps will also incorporate the skills and interests of incoming staff into each summer’s program – expanding the program experiences even more! 

See CampStaff, CampStaffNurses and CampStaffExpress for the latest summer camp job openings.

Set Your New Staff up For Success: 6 Musts For Summer Camps

Photo Credit Camp Kamaji for Girls

The following article is sponsored content provided by Circuitree.com

The quality of your summer camp staff can make or break the success of your season. Your staffers are the backbone of your camp that holds all of the operations together. You need an effective staff to ensure your all your camp’s activities and operations go off without a hitch.

Most of your staff will be teenagers or young adults who are starting their first job. This can be intimidating and overwhelming for them if not handled properly. You should do everything in your power to ensure your staff is equipped with everything they need to succeed at your summer camp.

While some of your new staffers may have been campers growing up or otherwise have experience in a summer camp setting, others in your new staff may be unfamiliar with the workings of a summer camp. It is your job to prepare them for anything that may be thrown at them and foster their growth throughout the summer.

When you are preparing for the summer with new staff, make sure you:


Perfect your hiring process.

Keep your staff informed.

Effectively train your staff.

Equip your staff with useful tools.

Make time for team building.

Listen to staff feedback.


If you want to engage in committed and long-lasting staff relationships, you must create a good experience at your camp that will make your new staff want to keep coming back year after year. Your new staffers, though inexperienced, don’t have to be a hindrance to your operations. With these 6 tips, you will learn how to set your staff up for success with ease.

Perfect your hiring process.

Setting your new staffers up for success all starts with hiring the right candidates. Not everyone is cut out for working at a summer camp, and you should make sure you are selecting only the candidates who will be able to thrive in that environment.

The hiring process for any business can be tricky, but with summer camp staff management, there are even more than the usual factors that must be taken into consideration. Because your staffers will be working with children, you need to make sure you’re hiring the perfect people for the job. There is absolutely no room for error.

To streamline this process and ensure you hire the best possible candidates, you should adopt an effective camp software that will make the hiring process easier and more efficient.

Make sure the software you choose will enable you to:


  • Strategize before an interview. Your software platform should provide a tool that will house your interview questions prior to an interview and store them according to the candidate.


  • Stay organized during an interview. Use a notetaking tool to annotate your interview questions during the interview so you can make sure you ask and receive answers to all the important questions.
  • Build candidate profiles. Make sure your software will compile all the candidate information into a centralized database and present it in an easy-to-read manner.



  • Reach out to candidates. You should be able to extend offers to your candidates and receive acceptances through your software tool. Don’t forget to personalize your approach to new candidates so they know they are appreciated.


Hiring an effective staff is the first step toward successfully supporting your new staff, but the preparation shouldn’t stop there.

Keep your staff informed.

Your staff should never feel left in the dark about anything going on at your camp. You should be regularly updating them throughout the summer about the operations of the camp that apply to their roles there.

Make sure your staffers have ready access to pertinent information that will help them perform their jobs. You may do this in a variety of ways, including:

  • Email newsletters at the beginning of each session.
  • Camp-wide staff meetings at the beginning and end of each section.
  • Position specific meetings throughout the summer.

Because you are dealing with children on a daily basis, maintaining an informed staff is all the more important. You don’t want any mistakes to happen when managing and caring for children what could have easily been avoided with effective communication.

You should regularly update your staff regarding:

  • Campers with extreme allergies.
  • New policy changes that affect their position.
  • Updates about a specific camp session.
  • The addition or removal of camp activities.
  • Administrative updates.

Don’t let internal communications fall by the wayside. Your new staffers may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of their new job and keeping them informed will enable them to become more comfortable with their role.

Effectively train your staff.

Staff training is crucial for incoming staffers. While there are many items that you should cover in your summer camp staff training, you should try to tailor your training experience around:


  • Increasing engagement with the staff. Maintain open, honest communication between your staff and your administration so that you can encourage your new staffers to return every year.


  • Enhancing camper safety. Camper safety is the number one priority of your camp. Your training process must incorporate different safety protocols, from emergency preparedness to weather crises. You should be able to assure parents that their kids are in good hands because you train your staff extensively.
  • Fostering staff leadership qualities. Your staffers are at the beginning of their careers. You should train your staff to seek out new opportunities to grow within your camp and excel in leadership roles.  
  • Providing your staff with the necessary resources. Make sure your staff has easy access to all the necessary tools to properly manage their campers. The right software platform will easily facilitate this.



Don’t forget to utilize your existing and returning staff members to help provide a real perspective on the day-to-day expectations of the role.

Equip your staff with useful tools.

Throughout the summer, your staffers will be engaging with countless campers and participating in and facilitating numerous activities. They should be equipped with all the tools necessary to make this an easy and efficient process.

While camp software certainly has its perks for you as you hire staff and manage the camp, the best camp software will have tools that specifically ease the staffer’s experience, too.

Remember, your adopting a camp database software will assist your staffers in their day-to-day camper management tasks, creating an effective and efficient environment. You 

You should look for software with:

A centralized database.

Don’t let your staff lose track of camper information. With a centralized database, your staffers will easily be able to track and keep records on campers throughout the summer. This eliminates the need to manually organize the information or manage it across a range of platforms.  

Integrated communication tools.

Communication tools should be completely integrated into whichever software you choose. Whether the staffers are communicating with you, other staffers, or with campers and parents, the right tools need to be available to them. Find a software platform that will allow you to send scheduled, automated, and mass emails as well as personalized, individual emails.

Electronic health center.

Your campers should always have easy access to medical attention but it can be difficult to manage medical information on such a large scale. With an electronic health center, your staffers can easily access and manage the camper data. Parents will love this feature and staffers will appreciate the ease of what is normally a complicated task.

One sector that depends heavily on software at all levels of operations is professional event planning. If you’ve never worked with any type of comprehensive planning or management software before, explore this list of a few top event planning tools. Their features will give you a sense of the level of customization and comprehensiveness you should look for in your software platform.

Make time for team building.

Team building is an important component of creating a healthy and successful staff environment. If you want your new staffers to succeed, you need to make them feel welcome and like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

It is important to create some time for fun bonding activities when you are initiating new members into your staff.

Team building exercises should have three main objectives:

  • Allow your staff a chance to get to know one another.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to engage with your staff.
  • Get new staffers out of their comfort zones.

Most people very strongly dislike warm-up activities and getting-to-know-you activities, but once they actually start participating there is a definite shift in their attitude. Your staffers should feel comfortable with one another and with camp leadership if they are going to effectively be able to engage campers throughout the summer.

For an easy way to inspire a team-oriented perspective, you should create custom camp t-shirts that will visually create a unified perspective for your staff. You should utilize an online service like Bonfire’s custom t-shirt supply to best accomplish this.

Listen to staff feedback.

One of the best ways you can know how to help your new staffers adjust to camp life and fully understand their new role is to simply listen to the feedback of your existing staff.

Every year, you have a wide variety of staff members that are running into small hiccups or encountering challenges that need to be smoothed out. Because they are dealing with the issues directly, they will likely have important thoughts on how these issues can be dealt with in the future.

Consider using a staff survey, like CircuiTree’s summer camp evaluation form, that will assess the staffers’ experience at your camp and gather any information you desire regarding potential improvements.

You may want to ask questions like:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your experience working at Camp [insert name here]?
  • What was your favorite part of working here?
  • Do you feel like your training properly prepared you for the summer?
  • Is there anything you would change about your camp experience?

Let your staffers’ voices be heard. Your new staff will benefit greatly from the insight the returning staff can offer, and you should facilitate the continued refreshing of staff operations.

Your new summer camp staff members deserve to enter the summer with their best foot forward. Follow these 6 tips and prepare your new staffers for a great summer camp experience!

Article Written By Glen Greenstone. Circuitree.

Screenshot 2019-05-22 08.34.51

Bio: Before becoming a camp professional, Glen enjoyed many other pursuits. A native San Diegan, he worked through college as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. He has a passion for literature and the outdoors, and is a veteran of U.S. Coast Guard, so he naturally loves to get out on the water with his wife and two kids whenever possible. He loves hearing camp cheers outside his office window during the summer, while helping camps across the country overcome their unique challenges!


Fast ways to fill your last camp jobs

photo credit: Camp Tanadoona

Opening day of camp is just around the corner and you still have a few positions to fill. No need to panic, you have a few no cost or low cost options easily available and one huge annual event working in your favor.

Colleges are wrapping up the school year and thousands of students are suddenly struck with the reality of returning home for the summer and living at home or finding a cool job that also pays the rent and groceries.  A summer working away from home might be sounding better and better. Summer camp jobs fit the bill!

Reach out to your camp community. We realize you’ve probably done this all year but yes, do it again. One, there is a lot of e-clutter out there and some (many?) of your emails will have been missed. But two, plans change and potential staff may now be available – especially those who returned home and are now being pressed by parents to get a summer job.

Send your detailed job description to EVERYONE in your camp database. Former camper and staff as well as your current families and staff. Include your board members, donors, vendors, anyone who knows camp and might be willing to share the job post.

If your camp communications are organized, it will only take a few minutes to reach potentially thousands of eyes.

Review and reach out to applicants from earlier in the hiring year. Again, plans change so someone who turned you down earlier in the year may now be available. Review some of the borderline applicants that you rejected this year. Maybe you were holding out for a better credentialed person and now those credentials are less important. Also, YOUR plans may have changed, in January you only needed 3 lifeguards, now with more campers you need 4. 

Again if your contact software and systems are good, it should only take a few minutes to send a quick inquiry email.

Use a summer camp specific job mailing list.  The goal is to be fast and summer camp specific job mailing list only hit people already interested in summer camp jobs. No need to spend time recruiting the person away from other types jobs they might find on a big multi-industry job site. CampStaffExpress has a 4,000+ summer camp job seeker mailing list. One ad can be blasted out to people already thinking about a job. Paid, highly targeted social media boosts for your summer camp job listing can reach double or triple that number.

Newsletter blasts out every Wednesdays, with social boosted daily.

CampStaff  members can send DIRECT EMAILS. Members only feature allows camps to target the entire CampStaff job seeker database or any subset or combination of criteria with a single email. For examples, 21 year old or older boat drivers, 18 and older male cabin staff, etc. Or on CampStaffNurses, RN’s available for July, etc)

CampStaff member camps can follow the direct email link for details. 

Pack a camp dog; unpack staff stress.

There has been a large amount of attention lately being put on the topic of the mental health of summer camp staff. Rightfully so, as studies show that more than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45% have felt things were hopeless.

While the very idea of coming to camp for a new counselor may sound uplifting, spontaneous, care-free, and “a break”, camp environments can also bring on stress, anxiety, and worry.

Camp directors have been reading up on the topic of mental health, attending presentations on how to best offer support to staff over the summer, and learning how to take care of themselves as to lead by example. Here’s one more, simple way to help your summer staff reduce feelings of anxiety and worry this summer…..bring a dog to camp!

The friendlier, the more playful, the sweeter the better! According to Purina Dog Foods, “When we are around animals, we become more joyous, communicative, expressive, and calm.” And Harvard Health Blog,  states that pets also improve people’s psychological well-being and self-esteem.

Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. So if your camp does not yet have a dog, get looking! Maybe one of your seasoned staff has a trained dog that is good with children and large groups of people, if you don’t have a dog readily available at your home. We wouldn’t suggest buying a puppy now and planning on bringing it to camp. Dogs who are a little bit older and out of the puppy stage make a better camp fit. Also, puppies will take up a lot of your time, and time is not necessarily a free resource at camp.

When traveling recently through the Charlotte, NC, airport, I met a therapy dog, who volunteers with her owner to reduce stress of travelers. On a college campus yesterday, I witnessed a “de-stress with dogs” event to help students relax before finals week. Relaxing with dogs is a real thing.

Translating this theory to camp…I saw the advantages first hand last summer while at camp where three dogs all enjoyed camp life. Dog 1 visited only on walks through camp and got tons of hugs from mostly campers. Dog 2 was well trained and stayed off the leash but near his owner. This dog was “dog-sat” often by other staff members and by full bunks of campers. Dog 3 stayed on a leash and came to the office in the afternoons to sit on the porch and almost always had a visitor with him. The best part was the new activity entitled “Doggoe’s” which was camp-speak for your group being able to hang out with the dogs at the waterfront, swimming and playing. Easy to do, with huge results on the mental health radar.  The amount of dog-related activities at camp is endless, really.

The down-side of a camp dog? Yes, poop. Yes, barking at squirrels. The upsides? helping the self-esteem of your campers and staff, lower stress levels, a non-judgmental listener, a perfect hug, and contagious calm. Well worth it, if you ask me.




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