What They Don’t Tell You About Working at a Summer Camp

*Disclaimer: I know that what you’re about to read is not true for every single person who has ever worked at a summer camp. I’ve had friends who have worked at some really crappy summer camps. I’ve also had some really great friends who’ve worked at really great camps who haven’t loved camp like I have/other people have. Camp isn’t for everyone, and some people aren’t really “made” for camp. But, these are a few of the things that I think ring true for most people who work at solid camps. 

1. You’ll Be More Tired Than Ever Before — I’ve experienced some horrible jet lag. I’ve worked a retail job on Black Fridays. I’m a student teacher (and that comes in a close second for levels of tiredness). I’ve pulled all-nighters. And none of those things can ever amount to how tired you will feel at camp. You stay up late, and you get up early. You work 14, 16, 18 hours every single day doing hard work. It’s not always hard “labor” (for some it is), but lots of times it’s hard emotionally and spiritually. Do this for 8-9 weeks straight, and at the end of the summer you’ll be so tired, it’s ridiculous (but makes for some hilarious stories).

2. Flexibility Is The Name Of The Game — Ask my friends from high school, and I can promise you that they’ll tell you that I’ve never been the most “flexible” of people. I like to KNOW the plan, and I like to stick to it. However, at camp, you NEVER know what’s going to happen, and you have to be willing to be up for anything. Sometimes that means you’re a day camp counselor that has to become a residential camp counselor halfway through the week. Sometimes that means you’re making a Walmart run at 11pm for essential items. Sometimes that means you’ve spent the entire summer on maintenance staff and the last week of the summer you have to be a counselor because we have more campers than we do counselors. You just have to be up for anything, and as hard as this was for me, it was such a good lesson to learn!

3. Your Comfort Zone Is Thrown Out The Window — I classify myself as an introvert. I recharge by being alone, and I like to be able to do things that I can control. I like to be comfortable. At camp, you’re rarely alone. I remember about three weeks into last summer saying to a friend that I sat in the bathroom for a longer than necessary period of time because it was the first time I’d been alone in three weeks. It’s so true! You’re also always doing something that’s out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s leading Bible studies or going up on the high ropes course or dancing in front of campers or (my personal favorite) having to compete in a lip sync competition with five minutes heads up, you’ll be out of your comfort zone a lot of the time you’re at camp. But, I love that God tends to work the most in the uncomfortable moments of our lives.

4. Worship Gets A Whole New Meaning — There is something absolutely powerful about worshipping the living God for two straight months with 80 people who are all working towards a common goal. Naturally, there are songs that are “popular” each summer, and when I hear those songs play, I’m immediately brought back to camp. But, one of the coolest things about getting to live in community with fellow believers is that you don’t always worship through song. Sometimes, it’s through fellowship with those people God has ordained to be in your life for that period of time. Other times, it’s through prayer with each other and bearing one another’s burdens. One of the things I miss most about camp is getting to worship with the staff.

5. You Make Really Great Friends — It’s hard to go somewhere for nine weeks and not come away different. It’s also hard to go somewhere for nine weeks and not leave without a friend or two. One of my favorite parts about camp is the relationships that are formed. You share common ground, and the bonds and memories that are formed with these people can’t ever be duplicated. There are certain things that people at camp just get that people at home don’t (and vice versa). I remember not expecting to come home last summer with so many great friends from camp, but I did. And now to have them for two summers, to share memories and to build lasting friendships, oh what a blessing that can only come from Christ alone!





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