After the initial feelings of elation that come from having completed their first summer at camp, many first year counselors are left wondering what comes next. For some, the choice to return to camp (or not) is an obvious one. For others, there are many factors involved, impending college graduations or internships, the prospect of a full time job, etc. Others simply need time to process the summer before making a decision. What may have seemed like a one-time-only experience in the moment, proper reflection can give birth to goals that require at least one more summer. Still, some counselors are just too exhausted to even consider next summer without some down-time to rest. During the transition, priorities often quickly shift from camp to academic responsibilities. Although the final decision to return to camp may be months away, fall is actually a good time to make a tentative decision about whether you’re interested in returning and initiating communication with your camp.
Because summer camps recruit heavily during the early part of the new year, they like to have an idea about which staff members have intentions of returning prior to the end of the year. This helps them focus their recruiting efforts. It’s therefore a good idea to contact your camp sometime during the fall to let them know your overall feelings about your summer experience and to express interest in returning the following year. Although your camp may not have made final decisions about which staff members it will invite to return, having an idea of who is interested in returning is helpful when creating recruitment plans.
Likewise, if you think you might want to return to camp next summer in a different role than you had this season, the fall is a good time to express that interest so that your camp knows that you want to be considered for that role should an opening become available. For clarification, it’s a good idea to explain why you think you might be a good fit for your desired role as well. Although it may be obvious to you why you might be right for that role, your camp likely goes through hundreds—if not thousands—of resumes each year. Some proactive notes from you may be helpful.
Making a tentative early decision about potentially returning to camp also gives you more time to prepare for the experience. Even well-seasoned counselors sometimes find themselves scrambling to make summer plans come together at the last minute. The earlier you commit to another summer at camp, the more time you have to financially prepare for the travel to camp. This is of particular importance for international staff who tend to have significantly higher traveling expenses than domestic staff.
Keeping in contact with other staff members is a way to keep camp fresh and the anticipation high throughout the year. It’s also a great way to position yourself to hear news of rideshares or winter join ups among staff.
With a little advanced planning and proactive measures on your part, ‘So now what?’ easily becomes, ‘Now it’s time.’