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.