Camp Staff Recruitment and Hiring Ideas Amid Coronavirus Concerns

March 23, 2020
camper chasing a counselor

We know that ongoing recruitment and hiring plans may have changed with the arrival of the coronavirus (COVID-19) — job fairs have been canceled and opportunities to meet college students face-to-face are limited or nonexistent. Social media and regular contact with our returning staff (or those who worked at camp in the last few years) seem to be the modes of communication available to us at this time. So, Project Real Job (PRJ) has pulled together a “baker’s dozen” of ideas gathered from camp professionals around the country that might help as we navigate this unique position we find ourselves in. 

Camp Staff Recruitment and Hiring Tips

  1. Don't panic — Remember your staffing goals at the beginning of recruiting season and the camp culture you envision long-term
  2. Contact returning staff who have already committed to summer 2020 and let them know your plans for moving forward
  3. Reach out to returning staff who have not yet committed to see if their plans have changed. It is highly likely that travel abroad opportunities, internships, and family gatherings have been canceled or postponed
  4. Enlist the help of returning staff to recruit new faces from the people they know, as their friends also have plans that have changed (school, teams, campus clubs and organizations, neighbors, family members, etc.). Reach out via texting, video clips, the camp Facebook page, email, Zoom/Skype calls, and other digital formats
  5. Pull "heartstrings" by reaching out to camper and staff alumni and ask for their support to make sure that camp is able to continue this summer
  6. Consider running virtual camp programming (arts and crafts, camp songs, fitness offerings, how to make a healthy snack, etc.) and invite former/current staff to lead (great opportunity for new staff to join in the fun and see what camp is all about — great for engagement and long-term commitment!). This also shows that summer camps are really awesome at out-of-school time
  7. Utilize Project Real Job Resources that can help your efforts to recruit, hire, and retain staff (videos, infographics, social assets, blogs, articles in Camping Magazine, webinars, and notes from various Think Tank sessions around the country where folks shared their ideas)
  8. Use #CampContinues2020 as you reach out to veteran and new staff; ACA is using this hashtag to help camps keep the recruiting and hiring processes moving forward
  9. Leverage the need for young people to have a Plan B from previous summer plans that have fallen through; talk about how they can take a break from technology (a lot of "noise" happening right now on social media), by being outdoors (folks are "trapped" indoors), etc.
  10. Use Instagram to maximize staff engagement (tips by Blake Sunshine of Social Summer Camp) 
  11. Create an email for applicants who are coming to you from Indeed or other online employment search engines to help educate folks on the job they applied for (but probably know next to nothing about)
  12. Prepare a Field Experience Manual and work with staff to create an internship or other field experience (independent study, practicum, or pre-internship hours) at camp
  13. Design a workshop for staff to learn how to translate camp to a resume or to talk about their camp experience in an interview so that staff see the value of their amazing summer working at camp and want to return next year