You're In... Now What?
Besides the make-over, Camp America’s application process is nice and easy, if not slightly long if you don’t have much patience. There are a number of sections you must fill in: personal details, skills, childcare experience, work experience, school grades, camp preferences (which I’ll explain to you later) and more. It doesn’t take very long in the grand scheme of things. The bit I found most annoying was having to sell myself and my skills within the word count for each section. I believe it was around 1000 characters per section, including spaces. Something to bear in mind when trying to tell them just how many awards you won in your career as a Rubik’s Cube instructor. Don’t laugh! That could easily be a skill that would get you placed, provided you’re enthusiastic enough about it.
Anyway, there are a few more sections after that. These ones are more like test questions; although you can’t really give too wrong an answer if you consider your own reasons for applying to summer camp. Again, there are word counts on your answers, so try to be concise. I definitely found this the most difficult bit, because I just didn’t know if I had put in the most important things to help sell myself the best. The questions themselves are pretty easy though: What do you believe a good counsellor to be? Why do you want to be a summer camp counsellor? Why should a camp director hire you for their camp? The answers are basically common sense.
Really, whatever you feel you could bring to a child’s summer camp experience, put it down. If it’s unique, even better. The skills I put down were Drama, Horse-Riding, Art and Theatre Make-Up. I can do other things as well, but I put down what I felt my best ones were. No point in being asked to help teach kids something if you’re not confident in it yourself! Camps are always looking for common skills – like swimming, football, dancing, art and music. Your chances are even better if you have one of their skills that are in high-demand – horse-riding, adventure sports such as kayaking and rock climbing, and life-guarding. These skills can earn you a higher wage, and you can get placed much quicker! So thank your parents for forcing you down to the pool week after week to save a classmate wearing a big t-shirt from pretend-drowning. It could really help you out now!
If You've Got It... Flaunt It!
Having filled in all those sections, you’re basically done. Upload your picture – make sure it’s a nice clear one of your face (SMILE!) so the camp directors know who you are – and add some of you doing your chosen activities too! You only get two activity photos, so I went onto PicMonkey and used that to make a collage of photos, so they could see more of what I can do. Up to you really, but it’s a good way of showing off your versatility. Alternatively, the Camp America people recommend making and uploading a short video about yourself. I’ll do another post on the details, and how I made mine to stand out, but it’s basically just another way of the directors getting to see you and know what you’re like off-paper. You get to show some personality and sell yourself; they see exactly what they’ll be getting if they hire you. Win-win! You don’t have to have your video done when you go for your interview, and if there are any sections you need to improve or finish, your interviewer will let you know how to do so.
Now, quickly back to the section on your Camp Preferences. This confused me when I was applying, until someone actually explained it to me. When you sign up, and your application is sent to camps, it AUTOMATICALLY goes to the many private summer camps across the States. This section allows you to select what OTHER TYPES of camp your application gets sent to. I think this should be put somewhere on the actual application page, so if anyone at CA is reading… that’s my suggestion for improving the process.
There are five OTHER camp types that your application gets sent to if you say you are willing.
You can pick which of those camps your application gets sent to. If you are willing to go to any of them, put them all down. If you don’t fancy any, or only some, that’s fine too! It won’t affect your application by being truthful about where you’d rather be placed. It can help you to be placed quicker if you are open to more camp types, as there are more directors who will be seeing your application, but always go with what you’re comfortable with. I put down that I was willing to be placed at an under-privileged or single-sex camp, along with the private camps. You can actually say if you would prefer to be placed at one of these camp types. It doesn’t guarantee it, but it can only help your chances of finding a placement for you for the summer!
Below is a link to the Camp America page with all their descriptions of each camp, if you want more detail on what I've described above. Head there to get a head start in making your decision.
With all that filled in, all that’s left is to pick your interviewer, send off for your DBS Police Check, and pay your initial application fee (£69, refundable if you don’t pass your interview, so you really have nothing to lose at all – and I got mine for only £44 on a special deal they were doing for Bonfire Night, so keep your eyes peeled for those! Every penny counts, as they say!)
There are a selection of Camp America interviewers across the country, so it’s down to you to pick who you’d like to see, and then just send them a message to request them. They will get back to you pretty quickly with a suggested time, date and place for the meeting, but don’t be afraid to ask to change it if it doesn’t suit you. They don’t bite! Camp America also hold Interview days at certain universities across the country, so you may end up at one of those, but don’t worry, it’s not like a job interview! It’s very casual, so no need to turn up in your best shirt and tie, panicking about whether you’ll pass. Mine was at a Costa in the middle of a shopping centre, so that’s how informal they can be. Make sure to take along your three documents for your police check, so they can verify you; and I’d advise taking a print-out of your application form, a notebook and a pen, just in case you need to make any notes of any questions you have, or anything to improve your application further. The interviewers aren’t there to trick you, they’re just there to check you are who you’ve said you are, and make sure your application is as strong as it can possibly be. If you’re open, enthusiastic and true to yourself, there’s no reason you won’t get through this stage with flying colours.
Until Next Time...
I’ll be posting more updates on how my application process is going in the weeks and months to come, so do keep an eye out if you’re interested. You can sign-up to receive notifications when I post at the bottom of the home page, or find me on various social media platforms listed at the top of this page. My next post will probably be a how-to on creating your own application video to impress the camp directors into hiring you!