Did you attend summer camp, either for day programs or overnight sessions? If you did, congratulations! You learned at camp how to work with people, develop work-related skill, and overcome life challenges. These are skills that former campers rely on for success in their adult careers.

And, at camp, you likely dreamt about a future doing meaningful work.

summer camp builds careersAccording to the American Camp Association, each year, over 14 million children and young adults attend a summer camp program. People who never escaped the confines of their homes or neighborhoods formed lifelong friendships at camp.

Simply stated, summer camp builds careers.

In May 2020, we streamed an episode of The Tightrope Podcast about the enduring power of the summer camp experience, to set people on a path to doing meaningful work. My best friend since summer camp, Stuart Katz, and I explored how our many years at Camp Laurelwood, a nonprofit, coeducational overnight camp on the Connecticut Shoreline, helped us escape our comfort zones to make new friends, learn work and creative skills, and overcome daunting challenges.

As Stu puts it:

“We see a lot of people do well in their [adult] careers who, coincidentally, did well in their careers at camp. I have no data, other than the anecdotal experiences of the time [we spent] there. But you see people who rose to leadership positions in camp and were viewed as successful staff members that have had successful careers in whatever they were doing after camp.”

And our camp alumni, many of whom have achieved brilliant professional success as adults, would agree: summer camp builds careers.

But, what if you didn’t have a summer camp experience?

Stu and I agree that you should seek out opportunities to enjoy the kind of overnight camp experiences you lacked as kids. The American Camp Association provides a directory of camps that specialize in providing adults a fulfilling camp experience. NOTE: due to the pandemic, program experiences available during the summer of 2020 may be limited.

Our best days lie ahead.

DAN SMOLEN is founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC. He is also the executive producer and host of The Tightrope Podcast.  Please comment here to let us know how we are doing, and, to offer suggestions for future guests and topics. Also, please catch up with our past blog posts, like this one and this one.  

Image credit: Hurdling campers, Camp Laurelwood; Stuart Katz portrait, Elm City Communications.