There are many reasons why summer camps struggle to find and retain quality staff. We see many camps focus their job descriptions around the cultural elements that the job provides, illustrating the fun benefits of working at camp. While camps offer many professional development opportunities, they fall short showcasing those areas to prospective candidates. In our experience, that is a fatal error.

Think about it: How many positions have you advertised like this?

Camp (Name) is situated on a beautiful lake in the mountains, home to 200 campers that live for the magic of campfires and color war. The spirit of camp can be felt from the waterfront to the dining hall. The vibrant community is based on friendships and memories that last a lifetime. We are looking for fun and energetic staff that enjoy working with kids.

Sounds like a breeze, right? Who wouldn't want to sign up to spend their summer at this picturesque place? While this opener might entice some applicants to apply, it is often an ineffective means of attracting high-quality candidates.

When your job description screams “fun summer ahead!” you get applicants looking for an easy summer where they can hang out, make new friends, and coast. What you miss are candidates seeking a meaningful opportunity to develop skills and advance their career. In order to attract high-quality candidates, your posting needs to speak to an audience that prioritizes career and compensation.

Postings for internships and corporate summer jobs heavily focus on future career growth, something incredibly important to driven young professionals. In fact, this can be so essential that your ideal applicants often choose more traditional jobs over camp jobs, many times accepting unpaid internships they feel will look good on their resume.

So what does this mean for you as a recruiter? The opening paragraph of your job description is the candidate's first impression. Make it count! Craft an introduction that highlights the potential for employee growth and professional advancement. Set the tone by cutting the camp fluff and immediately and explicitly connecting the camp experience with career development. The quality applicants you are seeking expect it.

This blog was written as part of Project Real Job’s initiative to support camps with staff recruiting, hiring, and retention efforts.

Photo courtesy of Camp Howe in Goshen, Massachusetts

Aaron Lyon (he/him) and Esther Eisenhard (she/her) are the founders of CampHire, a recruitment and staffing agency for summer camps. They take the stress out of hiring by sourcing highly qualified candidates that embody the camp spirit.

Looking for assistance with recruiting for your camp? Email for more information.