Summers during college can be quite restful, or very stressful. It seems like there’s no in between. Either you’re preparing to take a much needed break from school, planning to spend the summer relaxing and hanging out with friends, or you’re searching endlessly for that competitive internship for your resume. Maybe you don’t fit into any of these categories and you simply want to get a job and make some cash, study abroad, or explore your creative side.
I’m currently finishing my senior year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Looking back on my college summers, I looked into and/or tried most of these options I’ve listed. While all great opportunities, I decided to spend the bulk of my summers at camp and here’s why:
At camp, you get paid to have fun. At what internship can you dress up in a ridiculously large suit from Goodwill and dramatically coach a team of middle schoolers in a heated game of basketball? Where else can you spend the morning fishing for a 5 pound bass, and the afternoon mountain biking through the woods? When I contrast sitting behind a desk and typing formulas into excel with playing spikeball and making s’mores, the latter sounds like a job I’d love to have.
At camp, you have the opportunity to learn. Despite what you may think, developing new skills and interests at camp is not strictly for campers. In my two summers working at camp, I think I learned as much as I did in 8 years as a camper. My co-counselors taught me how to use climbing equipment, how to properly mountain bike, what strategies to use in disc golf, and how to barrel roll in a whitewater kayak. Camp offers the chance for you to try these different activities too, and to find what you’re passionate about.
At camp, you make lifelong friends. We had guys work last year that go to school in California, Texas, Florida, Alabama, etc. and we still keep in touch. When you live and work with these guys for over two months, the relationships you build are more meaningful than you would expect. Bonds are built with guys who may be quite different from you, have different interests or come from different places. You may even meet someone exactly like yourself. This is a really special part about working at camp that you’ll rarely get elsewhere, and makes the summer so much more memorable.
At camp, your faith matters. Man, this was so important for me. I think college is a time when people grow a lot in their faith. For me, it’s been all about asking questions and going deeper into the Word. It can honestly be scary to go from having Christian community at school to working a new office job or living at home where you’re more isolated. This can be an extremely challenging time for your spiritual life. For others, maybe you don’t have a community of believers at school, but for some reason you have a desire to be around people who have a bold faith in Christ. Camp is this place. The opportunity to dive right into a community of believers, where you can ask questions, study the word, and worship daily is something you won’t get anywhere else.
At camp, your leaders and co-workers care about you. They take a personal interest in you. They want to know you, know your story, be your friend, pray for you, support you, and teach you.
Working at camp has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. It’s made a positive impact on my mental, spiritual, and physical health during the summer, a time when these can all easily slip away.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Class of 2023
Camp Timberlake Staff member 2021-2022