Top skills for a camp counselor
We are right in the thick of Hiring Season here at Camp Carolina (we started all the way back in October!) and are always asking ourselves when hiring-does this person have the qualities to make an incredible Camp Carolina counselor? Incredible staff do not fit into one mould. Incredible staff can be introverted, extroverted, funny, philosophical... We do however always ask ourselves-what qualities do incredible staff all have in common? We can then base our recruitment and hiring on working hard to hire a team who consistently and naturally demonstrate those same qualities.
Our staff are legendary. We truly believe we have some of the best camp counselors worldwide at Camp Carolina and that it is the staff (not the facilities or activities) that make CCB the incredible place that it is for our campers. The process to become a CCB counselor is a long and timely venture with our goal being to ensure the staff member is fully aware of and committed to achieving the high standard we set for our team. A lengthy application, 2 interviews and 3 personally called phone references gives us a good idea of who the applicant is as a person and what qualities they demonstrate in their current lives and can begin to establish if they are the right fit for CCB and if they will be successful in the summer camp environment. The hard skills, such as coaching, are much easier to gauge competency and experience. We literally travel world to open our pool of potential staff which gives us the opportunity to be incredibly selective with who we hire. Generally only 1 out of every 10 applicants is successful in being offered a position at Camp Carolina.
So the question is-what are these top qualities that we are always looking for in our staff?
Selflessness. This is by far the most important attribute, we think anyone working with children needs to have. Our staff are the most selfless people we have met. Our campers needs come first, not because the counselors are asked to do so, but because they are genuinely selfless and giving people who care for their campers. Our team makes sure their campers are eating well, putting on sunscreen, drinking water, are in bed on time to get a good night’s sleep. They make sure that even when they, themselves are tired after a not so great night’s sleep-that they remain positive and encouraging when a tired camper is not always making the best choices. They do this because they are selfless and genuinely invested in their campers development at camp. Many of our interview questions reveal if the applicant is already making selfless decisions in their life and can do so in high pressure and tiring environments.
Creativity. This is a HUGE part of being an incredible member and also incorporates staff wanting to try new things, test out new ideas and take healthy risks to be the best counselor for their campers. We want camp to be fun and believe every single moment at CCB can and should be celebrated. It isn’t uncommon to see toothbrushing discos before bed, musical “make your bed” sessions before breakfast, soccer classes involving 4 goals and a counselor dressed in a gold morph suit. Wherever you look, a counselor is going above and beyond to “make moments” with their campers. Some of the campers best memories involve these impromptu, very special, Camp Carolina traditions.
3. Work ethic. It is no secret that working at Camp Carolina (and any camp) is hard work. Long hours, interrupted sleep, physical work in the North Carolina sun, minimal time off… It’s fun work but hard work! Staff that choose to work hard and perform their task to the highest possible standard even when they are not being observed is what we are looking for here. This is something we usually discover during our reference check phase as well as gauging the applicant’s own perception and attitude towards working hard. Our staff are some of the hardest working people we know. They spend hours writing Mommy Letters to our parents, perfecting lesson plans and creative new ideas to keep their campers engaged and do “the little things” when not being watched, such as picking up trash on their way to lunch. Over the years it has created an incredible work environment where staff personally thrive to be the best they can be...because they want to.
4. Enthusiasm! We aren’t just talking about the loudest, craziest counselors here. A lot of the time, our quieter counselors are our most enthusiastic staff we have on the team. Being enthusiastic, having a zest for life, exclaiming “What a Day” at the end of each day and getting everyone up for the Camp Carolina stretch when noticing a lull in enthusiasm is such an integral part of CCB. So during the application process-we want staff with passion and enthusiasm! We want to be excited when interviewing them-about fishing or climbing or soccer… It doesn’t really matter what, but having an enthusiastic and passionate outlook is what makes a “good” counselor a “superstar” counselor.
5. Adaptability. Rounding up our top 5 is adaptability. Working with children brings with it last minute change. Working in a summer environment with lots of other people brings even more change. What about all of those afternoon storms that makes Brevard famous? Our staff need to be able to think on their feet and make changes confidently all while keeping that enthusiastic and positive attitude that our counselors are so famous for. Sometimes our campers most incredible memories are made from last minute changes that require our staff to create new plans at the drop of a hat. That is what we look for in our incredible staff.
There you have it! The top 5 attributes we are searching for during our hiring process.
Our goal for 2018? Hire 120 staff who possess these top 5 attributes. The payoff? The best team of summer camp counselors in the world!