With the Camp Fair coming up, I decided the best way to get some insight would be to go straight to the source. Melanie McNulty, a sophomore Theater major here at IU, has been a part of summer camps since 2007 as a camper and then decided to try the other side of things later on as a counselor. With plenty of years under her belt, I sat down with her and asked her some questions about her experiences to help you guys see why you need to add the IU Summer Camp Job Fair (Wednesday, February 11) to your calendar!
Emma: Let’s start with the basics… where did you get your experience with camps?
Melanie: Phantom Lake YMCA Camp (PLYC) in Mukwonago, WI. It’s the second oldest YMCA in North America!
E: What made you want to get involved with camps?
M: I started attending this camp in 2007 as a camper, and in 2010 I proceeded on as a junior volunteer counselor, then in 2013 I was hired as a staff member. I have always had such a deep love for camp and all of the people there. There was something about being a mentor to kids younger than you that has always attracted me. I felt like I could make their weeks at camp some of the best weeks of their young lives, just like my counselors did for me when I was younger. There is something about the spirit of summer camp, especially Phantom Lake, and I can’t stay away from it!
M: I started going to PLYC because one of my good friends (Carolyn) at the time went to summer camp every year and I remember telling my mom that I wanted to do that. So the following summer, me, Carolyn, and two other girls all went together and stayed in the same cabin. I continued returning to camp, and I made it through all 3 years of the junior counseling program (which you have to reapply to), and then I applied for the job once I turned 18 and that’s when I started to spend the entire summer there.
M: My favorite part about PLYC is hands down the staff. These people are my second family. When you live with a group of 30 guys and girls your age for 2 months straight, you get to know them very quickly. Especially when you see each other at your grossest, ugliest, and most exhausted moments. Everyone is very much able to be themselves in that environment, which is what makes us such a quirky and loving group of people. We’re so close that we have reunions all over the Midwest at each other’s colleges or back at people’s homes in Chicago or Southern Wisconsin.
E: How can your experience working at a camp help you with a future career?
M: I have experienced so much at camp I hardly know where to begin! As far as the people go, I have learned how to work with very diverse group of people in a variety of settings, and in very close proximity since we all live there 24 hours, 6 days a week. As a counselor, I have learned kids can have a wide range of issues they are dealing with from a scraped knee, to the death of a parent. I have even counseled campers who have been abused. As a staff, we are properly trained for an entire week to prepare for what it is like to work with campers who come into camp with those experiences. I have learned a lot about myself through being a leader and mentor to young kids, and I have held such great responsibilities even as a young adult.
In terms of camp in general, it has truly shaped me into the person I am today. Ever since I started attending as a 12 year old, I knew that camp was a place where I could 100% be myself and be appreciated for it. My gifts and talents were acknowledged even if they were different than someone else’s, and this continues to be true as a member of the staff. The confidence I gained from my years at PLYC I carry with me wherever I go. I always remember to treat everyone how I would treat my campers, with respect and care for their lives even though they may be completely different me.
Looking at my own career goals I now will be able go into casting calls with experience of teaching theatre to the campers in the morning that have helped me not only learn so much about myself but also helped me gain teaching skills that are beneficial to my acting career and resume. I know that the confidence I’ve gained from talking to parents or dealing with important situations with campers will be valuable to me in a job interview. Even the creativity and problem solving skills I learned from having to figure out what to do on a rainy day will help me in the work force in the future. In general just being comfortable and confident with who I am will be a great personal skill I have gained through this experience to show future employers.
As you all can see this experience is more than just another job to add to your resume. So if you’re in the market for a life changing and career shaping summer job, head over to the IMU Wednesday, February 11!
Emma Koehler is a senior at Indiana University. She plans to graduate in May 2015 with a degree in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management. Emma hopes to work in the hotel industry upon graduation. She is excited to share her own internship experiences and ideas with readers!
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