Mel Wasser and Erin Dessau here, writing this blog together with the power of technology. Between the two of us we have spent over 29 (12 + 17) summers up at Maple Lake. From the youngest of campers to Unit Heads, we have each lived a full lifecycle of a Camp George attendee and now find ourselves active members of the Camp Alumni community.
This is a challenging summer for everyone in the camp community; whether you’re missing out on a year of memories as a camper or a pivotal leadership opportunity as a staff at camp. As camp alumni, we fondly remember our summers at Maple Lake and we have spent several years away from camp trying to harness those amazing memories into fun summers in the city. Now our desk jobs might not have that lakefront view or evening campfires as perks, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t taken some of those amazing times at Camp George as building blocks for our careers.
We both remember being university students and new graduates with little to put on our resumes beyond Camp and Temple volunteering, yet we both found a way to leverage our time as Camp George staff into getting our first real jobs.
I began applying for jobs fresh out of graduate school with a big part of my resume filled with camp and Jewish community experience. I was self-conscious about focusing my resume on these Jewish experiences, but I did my best to explain that these experiences gave me everything I needed to succeed in the job. It was by convincing an interview panel that my background gave me leadership training and creative problem-solving skills that would seamlessly transfer from the docks to a desk that helped me get my start with the Ontario Public Service. Now 5 years later, I still fall back on my camp experiences when interviewing because that’s my foundation for how I lead and it’s a big part of my identity.
I graduated from university in 2018 with a degree in multimedia and communications. In a field where ‘relevant’ work experience is highly valued, I worried how my resume filled with summers at camp would help me land a job. However, the skills I’ve learned at camp, whether it’s creative thinking or working with large groups, are what many workplaces value and look for in a candidate. I’ve realized that these skills are relevant in any work environment, and truly translate no matter what field you’re working in. When I interviewed for my first full-time job out of university, the final interview was with the VP of the department. He looked at my resume and the first thing he said to me was, “So you’re a camp person, eh?” He shared with me how he too used to work at overnight camp, and knows the true value and life skills that can come out of such an experience. That afternoon I was offered the job as part of the marketing team for an internal division at The Home Depot.
After realizing how challenging it can be to harness camp experience in the ‘real world’, we wanted to hear the stories of other alumni and offer support to those just starting out. That’s why we are organizing an event for staff and alumni to discuss how to put camp on a resume. We will hear from former campers and staff about their careers and what about their camp experiences helped them professionally. We will be discussing everything from resume writing to networking, all with a focus on selling your camp experience, regardless of your profession. We hope you’ll join us in hearing from the panel and we look forward to seeing you all on August 25th. Register Here.