Why Being a Y Camp Counselor or Lifeguard Is a Better Choice This Summer Than an Internship

picture of Dr Lexi Crawford of Children's National Hospital with a patient at a helicopter

Working at the YMCA as a camp counselor or lifeguard provides teens and young adults with key career-building skills that they can take anywhere as they prepare for college or their career. The skills young Y staff learn, demonstrate and master translate to multiple situations and work environments that are on par with and often more valuable than an office internship.

Internships, unfortunately, often involve menial tasks or so are limited in scope that participants don’t fully develop workplace skills. In some cases, interns are viewed by employers as temporary, and little investment is made in meaningful experiences. 

As an organization invested in youth development, the YMCA provides training and mentorship that gives young leaders opportunities to develop life-long skills such as:  

  1. Leadership
  2. Team Work and Collaboration
  3. Problem-solving and Creativity
  4. Communications and Public Speaking
  5. Time Management 
  6. Responsibility and Accountability
  7. Organization and Planning
  8. Emergency Preparedness
  9. Negotiations
  10. Teaching and Mentoring

Former teen and young adult staff often call on skills developed during their summer Y job. “The skills that I learned and developed as a leader at camp – effective communication, organization, role modeling, teamwork and problem-solving – helped prepare me to be successful in my role as Chief Resident as I led a group of pediatric residents and worked closely with hospital administration,” Lexi Crawford, M.D., Pediatric Critical Care Specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington. (Photo above: Dr. Crawford (on the right) with SkyBear, the helicopter that transports critically ill patients to the hospital.)

“After completing my pediatrics training, I was selected for the prestigious role of Chief Pediatric Resident at Children’s National Hospital, a role which I soon realized was very similar to being a Head Counselor at resident camp,” Dr. Crawford said. She continues to include her summer camp job on her resume and adds that connections made at camp have benefitted her work and life.

“Camp counselors and lifeguards are truly masters at logistics and planning, facilitation and relationship-building,” said Sheree Vodicka, CEO of the NC Alliance of YMCAs. “Between their YMCA training and on-the-job experience, young people learn how to communicate clearly with peers and others, adapt to challenges on the fly, manage relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, and practice conflict resolution with respect and positivity on a regular basis,” Vodicka said. 

North Carolina YMCAs are currently hiring lifeguards and day and resident camp counselors for the summer. Visit www.ncymcaalliance.org  to access local Ys statewide and learn about specific job  opportunities.

Build Your Resume at the YMCA