When it comes to hiring camp staff, we all know qualifications are just half the equation. Alignment on dates, housing, travel, and compensation can often be the barrier between a successful hire. As we often say, “everybody has their story!” (No candidate is perfect.)

In 2022 we’ve seen a significant increase in candidates pushing for more flexibility from camps when considering offers. Top talent always has options, and many are evaluating camps based on whether or not they are willing to accommodate their requests.

Here’s a sample of what we’ve heard from candidates so far:

  • “I want to get paid biweekly instead of at the end of the summer”
  • “I need a few hours a week to complete an online course”
  • “I’d like to attend a pre-planned trip in the middle of the summer”
  • "I want to work one month, not two”
  • “I want my significant other to join me at camp on weekends”
  • “I want my camp experience to count as an internship”
  • “I’d like to attend staff training virtually”
  • “I need to leave camp early for school or work”

Sound familiar? The camps that are landing the best talent are those that are taking these requests in stride and finding creative solutions to make them work. Directors who are serious about building high performing teams are saying “yes” to these requests and are being rewarded by landing the most sought-after talent on the market.

While camp is a fabulous place to spend a summer, candidates shouldn’t have to make sacrifices that are a detriment to their professional, educational, and financial goals, as well as their overall happiness and well-being. If your camp structure is rigid and inflexible, you’re likely settling for candidates that make the most logistical sense, while missing out on candidates that will add the most value to your team.

Want more proof that this works? Check out this thread from the Summer Camp Professionals Facebook group. Kudos to Travis Nichols from YMCA Camp Wiyaka for starting the conversation, and the other directors who chimed in with success stories of their own. Let their testimony be your call to action.

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