During high school and into college, I was put under a lot of pressure to ensure I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life and the best way to make that happen. The stress placed specifically on summer internships was enormous. But, since no summer internships truly interested me and made me feel passionate about the work I would be doing, I decided to try working at summer camp. This is probably the best decision I have ever made. The benefits from working at a summer camp, both professional and personal, I have found to be much more valuable to me then interning all summer. Here are a few reasons why you should consider working at a summer camp (at least once in your life) instead of getting a summer internship:

1. Yes it is a PAYING job!

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Okay I'll be honest, working at a summer camp does not pay that much. But, summer camps are time consuming so it's a lot harder to blow money once it comes in and a lot easier to save it. I found that I usually am able to save about 2/3rds of my summer income when I'm working at a camp versus when I am working at home and just know that money will fly right out of my pocket the second it comes in since I'll want to go out with friends, I'll have to put gas in my car, I'll have to buy groceries, etc. Additionally, a lot of summer internships (especially highly sought after ones) are unpaid. That's right, UNPAID INTERNSHIPS. You could get that unpaid internship out of the way during the fall or spring semesters when it is easier and less competitive and save that money over the summer by working at a camp!

2. Useful Experience

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I learned so many valuable skills while working at summer camp. Not only are their specialty positions (I was a music specialist and now I run communications, two examples of specialty positions) where you can enhance your skills by teaching others about that specific specialty and using it every day, but being a counselor specifically teaches you how to handle unique situations quickly and with a grace and calmness that I have never learned before my time as a counselor. The situations you encounter every day are definitely trying but the experience you gain working under pressure translates very well to an intense, high pressure career.

3. There's a camp for everyone!

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From nonprofit camps for kids with HIV/AIDS and Sickle Cell disease to science and technology (SHOUT OUT URJ SCI-TECH SIX POINTS SQUAD), to creative arts, to religious, to secular, there is a place for everyone. Summer camp has evolved to be for the kid who loves sports and the kid who wants to design video games. What does this mean? That summer camp is also designed for the counselor who wants to teach their favorite sport or the counselor who wants to fly model planes, the one who loves to dance and choreograph and the one who wants to help kids connect to religion while finding their own connection as well. It may take a little research and a few emails (or LinkedIn profiles) but there is a summer camp where you will feel welcome and important at.

4. The best friends you will EVER make

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You wake up and see them, work through problems, celebrate the triumphs, and learn from the lessons together. The people you work with over the summer become so much more than your coworkers, they become your best friends. The summer camp I worked at last year still has active conversations in our group chats. I talk to many of the counselors as often as I possibly can. And at the end of the day, I know I have people from all over that I can count on and who can count on me for anything. Summer camp friendships are friendships that last a lifetime.

I know some people view summer camp as a summer they would lose. But, the reality is it's a summer full of benefits. From money to experience to friends, working in any capacity at a summer camp is something you won't regret. At the end of last summer, a very good friend of mine continually quoted Winnie the Pooh: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."