You’re working with camps or with young people, in general, and you’re wondering if camp directing is for you. Becoming a camp director usually doesn’t require a special degree, certification, or professional exam. Those who get into it are not motivated by status or money. It’s kind of like an extreme sport—you’re motivated by intangible rewards.
Here are some clues that camp directing might be in your future.
You want to work with young people, but in a non-traditional environment.
Maybe as a kid you imagined being a schoolteacher, especially if you were a good student. You wondered what could possibly be more fun than being in charge of kids all day. But at some point, you realized there is a lot involved with being a teacher that you actually don’t like. (i.e. grading papers and standardized tests) Or maybe you want to work with teenagers, but no one academic discipline really lights you up.
Camp directing gives you a chance to influence the lives of young people in ways that have less to do with academics and more to do with life skills. You can devote yourself exclusively to helping kids make friends, resolve conflicts, expand limits, and gain independence, just to name a few.
One camp director describes it this way:
“I wouldn’t be in the field if it weren’t for the transformational experiences that kids get out of the camp. There [are] very few places in the world where kids can unplug from technology, connect with other kids their age, and learn new skills. As a former schoolteacher, it’s great to see kids feel successful at camp in ways they couldn’t at school. You know, like winning the tug of war challenge during a special event day or hitting a bull’s-eye in archery. … Above all, it’s great to help create the environment where kids can become the best versions of themselves.”
You can’t get enough of camp.
After you discovered camp as a kid or even a college-aged counselor, you were never the same again. Since then you’ve spent every summer at camp, always wanting to stay just one more week. You’re a believer when it comes to all things camp—the outdoors, comradery with cabin mates, games, traditions, and bunking away from home. You don’t mind getting dirty, and you’re energized by young people. Memories of camp inspire you all year long, and you love the idea of devoting your entire year to bringing camp to life for another summer. If you’ve wondered if you might be certifiably addicted to summer camp, this might be the career for you.
You love sharing your passion.
You are a born performer, athlete, artist, or naturalist. You’ve been dribbling, dancing, or doodling since you could walk. Careers in the arts, athletics, and other “extra-curricular” activities are not always easy to come by. And besides, you don’t just want to DO what you love; you want to TALK about it—to share, strategize, analyze, and discuss it. You get a charge out of helping others discover it. If you want to devote your life to helping others thrive in the discipline you love, camp directing might be your jam.
Let’s get real.
If you’ve worked in camps at all, or even just with kids, you already know that there’s more to camp than passion and excitement. There’s a lot of hard work!
Lifehacker gives a great camp director profile1, and the American Camp Association (ACA) lists these very realistic, day-to-day functions:2
- Budgeting, and sometimes fund-raising
- Employing or recruiting staff and volunteers, training and supervising
- Working with a policy-setting body
- Coordinating functions
- Meeting legal requirements
- Writing and complying with ACA standards
- Managing the administration of other program areas
- Developing strategic plans
Here’s the bottom line: For camp directing to be a fulfilling career, the intangible joys of camp, whatever they mean to YOU, are worth hard work and dedication that can never be fully compensated. If you can bring camp to life for one more kid—you’re in!
Camp Directors: Did we leave anything out? Leave a comment on our Facebook post.
P.S. We wouldn’t even know what makes a good camp director if it weren’t for YOU!