Each summer, thousands of new and returning staff set out to far flung corners of the world to work on summer camps during the long summer holidays.
If you’re thinking about working on a camp for the first time, or perhaps you’re thinking of applying to work on our camp in Verbier, you might be wondering what camp life is really like for staff.
We caught up with one of our own camp activity leaders Caitlin who works on our international camps in Verbier, to ask what she thought were the biggest pros of working for a summer camp.
Over to Caitlin, for her top 10 reasons to work at summer camp!
1 – There is never a dull moment!
The enthusiasm we see from our campers fuels us for the day! At summer camps, campers are offered an amazing range of different activities, day trips and evening programmes, some of which may include activities or games even you may not have tried before training week. The children are never bored, and you are also joining in with doing different activities each day with them, so neither are you! You also may find you become very passionate about the activities. For me, I take our 3 to 5-year-old campers pond dipping which they absolutely love. It doesn’t feel like work to me. You’ll need to bring with you lots of enthusiasm and energy, though!
2 – A unique working environment
‘Step into my office’ is what you could be saying whilst accompanying your campers at the ropes course, building a campfire and toasting marshmallows, trying to see who can catch the biggest frog at the pond, watching the pure excitement on your campers faces as they reach the top of the climbing wall, or challenging your campers to a game of mini golf. The list goes on. Not everyone can say that about their day at the office!
3 – All camps are different, so there’s one to suit everyone!
Depending on the camp you work at, it may be big, small, or somewhere in between. I worked in a camp in Canada where we had hundreds of campers and therefore over a hundred members of staff. There are many camps around the world that are set up like this; they have a main campus, often attached to a lake, and will do all of their activities on their campus with all staff and campers living on-site.
A lot of the staff were previously campers too, but they all tend to have a group of new staff from abroad as well each year. This is a great way to really understand the summer camp community as you are around people with so much experience that you end up taking a lot away as well as meeting lots of new people. It can also be a great opportunity to find people to travel with after camp has finished for summer.
At Altitude, we will only have a maximum of 50 children at camp therefore you grow strong relationships with not only the rest of the team but your campers too. We find this benefits not only our campers, but also our staff, and our returning staff numbers are very high.
Right from the start we already know everyone’s strengths and who the best people are to run certain programmes, or manage evening activities. We don’t have a campus, but instead do our activities in Verbier and have day trips to the surrounding area, so you will also be getting out and exploring the Swiss Alps along with your campers.
Every camp is different so check out their set-up, their programme and whether it’s live in or out, so you know what is expected of you.
4 – Work in incredible locations around the world
Adventure summer camps are a break from the city lifestyle for many children and so often camps tend to have their bases close to rural areas. There are summer camps all over the world, and working as a camp counsellor or activity leader can take you to so many different places and you can use these opportunities to earn some money and explore that bucket list country you’ve always wanted to go to!
We are incredibly lucky with our location at Altitude Summer Camps, we are located in the wonderful mountain resort of Verbier, Switzerland, nestled in a sunny region of the Swiss Alps. Our camp is based in a quiet neighbourhood called Patier, walking distance to both town and the mountain forest. There are numerous benefits to us being based here, and the adventures can begin right on our doorstep!
5 – Build on your teaching skills and experience at camp
It’s a good idea to research the kind of camp you want to work at based on what you bring to the table. For example if you want to go to a water sports camp because this is where your skills and qualifications lie, then you would be looking for one that has access to lakes and offers activities like kayaking or water skiing. If you want to teach at a music camp, then you need to find a specific camp offering these activities. You can find camps focussing on mountain adventure, arts and crafts, language skills, religious camps, the list goes on. If there is a skill you want to focus on then research it!
6 – You’ll learn something new every day
Summer camps may only last during the summer months but the skills that you gain last a lifetime! There are opportunities to learn about your camper’s culture, maybe they’ll teach you a couple of words in their home language or you’ll learn a new skill through the activities that camp offers. You always tend to walk away from camp having learnt almost as much as the campers themselves!
7 – Build incredible leadership skills
Whether your camper is a residential or day camper we (the staff) effectively take sole care for the children at camp. You’ll soon learn that your campers will lean on you for guidance, advice and mentorship. So naturally your leadership skills will grow.
8 – You’ll become adaptable
Not every group of children will be the same! Every group will have different interests, hobbies and personalities therefore you can adapt the programme and make each activity yours to match the campers that you have. Being adaptable to the group that you have will guarantee that your campers have a memorable experience. With new staff come new ideas, and we are always open to hear how you think you could add variety to our activities. For example – maybe you have a different idea on how we can deliver our building campfires session, or new campfire recipes we can try with the campers.
9 – Explore your hidden talents
Due to most camps being able to offer such a large variety of different activities there is an opportunity for you to explore new activities which you may find you love! Our programmes are on a 2-week rotation so every day is a new activity. – we can’t wait to see your talents.
10 – You’ll feel privileged
Wherever you choose to work in the world, we are very lucky to be in a outdoor environment. You can learn so much from your experiences and you can take so much away from it.
At Altitude, we are a group of companies, the main two being our winter ski school and our summer camps. I personally work for both, and can say that it’s a great opportunity to link the campers I am with every summer to the children I teach in winter! After many years of the same children, we have built up a great relationship, it’s quite special! It also allows you to work in this environment for the same company year-round, so you end up having a long-lasting group of friends which in this situation can be quite rare!
These are only some of the many benefits there are to working at a summer camp and we would love to welcome you so that you can see for yourself! If you’re interested in applying to work at summer camp, send through your CV and a covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to permit conditions, we can only accept applications from those with a valid Swiss work permit or a Swiss or EU passport (this now excludes UK residents). Applicants must speak English as this is the working language of the camp. We accept applications for activity leaders, qualified English teachers or qualified French teachers.