Early Jobs 4 – Jobs you Love

So let me get this straight.

You are going to pay me to swim, hike, and play soccer all day long?


And this will last the entire summer?


And you will pay me in dollars?


Could it be too good to be true? Well yes, quite frankly. The playing all day long for a job part was correct. Technically so was the paying me in dollars part. It was the ‘how many dollars‘ part that kept me from doing this job for the rest of my life.

I had always grown up going to summer camp. YMCA summer camps to be exact. I went from camper to CIT (counselor in training). Then I went from CIT to Junior Camp Counselor, all the way up to Senior Camp Counselor.

I loved it, but it paid $200 a week 🙁

Note to Parents; you should all let your kids go to summer camp. It is perfectly designed to facilitate that time in their lives when they have to develop an identity outside of the immediate family unit.

You would be hard pressed to find an example of a circumstance (pre-college) where your child gets to meet 50 new people in such close proximity. It does wonders for their maturity and self-esteem.

Plus the kids get to do things that you are not doing for them/with them. I might play video games, but I do not repel down cliffs.

Being a camper is a solid good idea, but a camp counselor takes a little more self-analysis.

Sure it was a healthy job and it did make a nice conversation piece when talking to the ladies(one notch below having a good dog), but there are several aspects of it that are harder to deal with.

They are just kids. Kids are all coming from different places. Kids get emotional and if left to their own devices a group think can quickly descend into a Lord of The Flies situation.

A camp counselor needs to realize that they are a powerful role model, especially for kids who are missing a parent or two. They will learn from you, good or bad.

I never had much in the way of issues because I always chose 9 year olds. They are competent, yet they are not at that point where they are ‘too cool‘ to try new things.

I ran them like pack (a Muskrat pack if you must know because everybody’s group had a mascot). When we were coming, you knew it, because we were singing our own homemade marching songs. Even the awkward kids get to be part of an ‘us’.

Doing My Part, One Safe Fun Summer At A Time!

I never had a bad kid because as soon as one reared his (always his) head, I made him my number two. Deep down kids crave discipline. It is true that often a misbehaving kid is either not being challenged or not being acknowledged. Maybe by you, maybe at home.

Got a kid that swears? Take him deep into the woods and let them get it all out of their system, one time. They will stop because this was a fair trade.

Little troll makes fun of a girl and makes her cry? Publicly rattle off all of her good qualities in front of the group.

Are these universal approaches to the issues presented? Of course not, but they are approaches.

My own opinion about trying to shelter children is that kids take different things away from different people for a variety of reasons. Most beyond the control of a parent. Giving your child over to someone who does things way differently than you do at home will usually be a sum benefit.

Getting to know a batch of kids each summer was a rewarding job. I imagine teachers might feel this way.

I just wish the pay was as rewarding, I bet some teachers say that too.

Now that I am getting on in years I am not sure I have the energy the job requires. But if I can just get that family dynasty thing going, maybe my kids can have a job they love without worrying about the paycheck.

It’s kinda like that one girl you fell for, but the timing was all wrong. Some days you lie back in the grass looking up at the sky and wonder what that life would have been like.

This post is part of a series about ‘Early Jobs’;

2 thoughts on “Early Jobs 4 – Jobs you Love

  1. My first job was a summer camp counselor for the Boy Scouts focused on swim instruction. I was later a swim instructor and lifeguard for the Y. I have fond memories similar to you, though similarly it paid crap.

  2. I, too, was a camp counselor for third graders many years ago in Malibu.

    It was a wonderful time, although I felt amiss among misfits when it came to my fellow counselors.

    One of my campers lost his father while at camp, which was more difficult than most of what I’d done at age 18, but I winged it as best I could. Maybe that prepared me for delivering bad news in the ER.

    An investment that summer paid off in a quality girlfriend five years later, giving support to the premise that I’ve always invested with long time horizons…

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