So you are looking for an adventure and don’t want to spend your summer in the rain soaked UK. You have always wanted to go to America and see if camp really is what they portray it to be in the movies, and wondered if the meal portions really are like something out of Man vs Food. So you took the plunge, and signed up for the summer of a lifetime with Wild Packs. First of all, you have made a potentially life changing decision, and I say that from experience.
I have worked at a camp in upstate New York for 6 summers now, and started off exactly the same as you. I was a little nervous, didn’t know what to expect and excited at the same time. I filled my application in with as much detail about my skills and experiences with children as I could and sent it off filled with hope. My camp experience was amazing, and I met so many wonderful people and forged really good relationships with the kids. They really do become your little brothers and sisters! Anyway, fast forward a few years and after my 3rd summer I was extremely lucky to be offered a year round job with my camp and moved to America to work with them.
One of my main roles when working year round was to help hire the staff for the following year. I must have read through hundreds of applications over the year. Some were great, some were ok. However, there was one thing I always did first when considering whether to offer an interview to someone- watch their video. Of course camps are looking for people with skills in various areas, but they are mainly looking to hire people who have great personalities, are enthusiastic by nature and show an eagerness to work with children. These 3 things can be difficult to explain to a camp director via words in an application form. A camp director could have two applications in his sights for the same position. Let’s say, for example that the director is looking at two applicants who could teach soccer. One applicant has all the coaching qualifications, tons of experience and a video of him talking blandly into the camera. Basically he’s not full of vibrancy and charisma on his video. The other guy has qualifications, some experience with kids and a video which shows his infectious personality and his eagerness to work at camp. Which person do you think the camp director is going to go for? Being a camp counsellor is more about impacting the lives of children and helping to develop them. It is more about having fun than being able to turn the kids into the next Messi or Ronaldo. It is more about personality than qualifications.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, now my role at Wild Packs is to help you find the best camp possible. Our job is to make your application look at strong as possible, because if you are a soccer coach you need to remember there are hundreds of other soccer coaches out there who also want to work at camp. The best way to do this is by making a video, showing camp directors in just a couple of short minutes why you would be the best person for the job.
Your video does not have to be a Steven Spielberg masterpiece which has distracted you from doing your coursework or dissertation. Again, the aim of the video is to show your personality and have the chance to show camp directors why you want to work at their camp. It should be just 2-4 minutes long, that’s all. It can even just be filmed on your smartphone or laptop camera. I’m not very good with all things technology, but I’m sure there are apps out there that can help you edit videos. So what content should this video have in it, I hear you ask? Fairly simply it should show you introducing yourself and talking about why you want to work at a camp in America. Yes, we know you want to travel and see the sights, but try to mention in there that you are excited about working with kids! It should also have some content with you talking more about your skills, and what you can offer to the camp. Talk about your qualification/experiences; how you got involved in that sport/activity and any teaching experience you have. Finally you should talk more about why you think a camp director should hire you over someone else.
Sounds easy right? Well, anybody can talk into a camera and upload it to YouTube. If you want to stand out from the crowd then you can spruce up your video with more, exciting content. Rather than talking about your skills, try to show clips of you partaking in your activity or showing the end result of a project you have worked on. If you are a horseback rider show us clips of you riding your horse, if you love art show a sped up clip of a project you have worked on, if you play tennis then show us your serve….. You get the idea. You can also throw some photos in there of any travelling you have done, any cool activities you have took part in or similar. You can also try to have a bit of music playing as the audio. Remember, you are trying to stand out from the crowd here, so be super CREATIVE and show off who you are. One last piece of advice for your video…. SMILE!!
Once you have completed your video then simply upload it to YouTube and add the link on your application in the ‘Photos’ section. You might think that this isn’t worth it, but trust me it is!
Other quick hints and tips would me to make sure that you have put as much detail into your application as possible. Directors need to know what you are bringing to the table in terms of skills and experience, so don’t sell yourself short by just putting a couple of sentences in each talent box. You should also make sure that the dates on your application portray the very earliest you could fly to America and the very latest you could finish working. If you know you finish work/uni at the beginning of June then put the next few days as your earliest departure date, not 15th-20th. The camp you get placed at might not need you till the 15th, but if you maximise your availability you maximise your hiring potential.
Anyway, enough from me. I can’t stress enough how important I believe the video to be from a person who used to hire a lot of people for my camp. You have done all of this work to make sure you get to camp, but this extra bit of effort will help you greatly. Camp is an amazing experience that you won’t be able to explain to people that have never been before. You will meet people and have contacts all over the world. You will try new things that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t go to camp. And overall you will get the camp and travel bug and never want to leave!
You made a great life choice by choosing to work at a summer camp.