With aspirations of someday working with youth, Michael Rutledge is sure that the experience he's getting now as a camp counsellor at Circle Square Ranch Arden — a Christian-based residential camp in Sharbot Lake, Ontario—will someday come in handy.
Michael, 18, has been a counsellor for three years but, unlike many who have grown up going to camp, it's his first time. His favourite thing, he says, is spending time with the kids, and adds that being able to help them through the situations on hand is very rewarding.
"I've had kids return that remember me and say 'you did this for me last year,'" he says. "I'm hoping to have kids one day and it helps me know how they are."
Frank Domen, camp director at Circle Square Ranch Arden, says that he sees his camp counsellors grow into their positions as authority figures, learning real-life skills like patience and a positive work ethic. It also tests their ability to deal with real concerns outside of themselves. "It teaches them to really take a look at life through another set of glasses," Domen says.
Those skills can translate into future ambitions, even those outside of youth-oriented fields, adds Mary Giamos, career management consultant at the University of Toronto. Camp counselling can provide young adults with aptitudes that are transferable to a range of workplaces, she says, and that is often something that's missing from a young person's resumé.
Communication, organizational skills, problem solving, creativity, and leadership skills can all be learned in a camp-counselling environment, and transferred to the job front. Many are difficult to pick up in other traditional youth-oriented jobs.
"The skills that they need to take care of those kids and to keep them busy and make sure they're having fun and that they're learning, requires them to develop a set of skills that we refer to as ‘transferable skills,'" Giamos says. "These are all things that can be readily transferred into just about every job."