The College Settlement of Philadelphia was founded in 1882 to provide social, cultural and educational programs for the immigrants of South Philadelphia. The Agency operated a Settlement House in Philadelphia at Fourth and Christian Streets. College Settlement Camp was founded in 1922 by Anna Freeman Davies and has been providing camping services for people from the greater Philadelphia area since that time. Today, there are 5 and 12 day overnight camp programs (ages 8-12), Teen Adventure programs (ages 13 and 14) and a Counselor-in Training programs (ages 15-17). The Day Camp programs were added in 1950, and have been tremendously popular, offering two four-week session each summer.
Our Spring and Fall Outdoor School Programs started in fall of 1973 to provide a residential environmental education experience for schools and groups. That program has diversified into several popular field trip experiences that include one, two, or three or even five day programs. We run programs for elementary, middle and high school students, but also have several programs for boy and girl scouts, sports teams, adult and youth groups.
We work with many schools that start as a day trip group then move on to our three day program. Many students then sign up with us for programs held over the summer. Currently we work with about 35 schools – many public, several independent and several charter schools. Our seasons run from early March through May, and again early September through Thanksgiving.
Our three part program has many options for scheduling, activity choice and areas of focus. This enables us to custom fit a program specifically for each school. Our programs are kid-centered, paced at a rate that enables kids to build relationships with classmates, and spend quality time exploring the natural ecology of the area. Overnight trips have that intangible magic that makes them the highlight of many students’ elementary and middle school years. We work with students from all sorts of backgrounds, and our programs are intentionally designed to foster inclusion.
Top Ten Reasons You Should Work At Our Camp!
Each summer over half a million students, teachers, nurses, athletes, artists, undecided-career-choosers and compassionate souls spend their summer working at a camp in the USA. In today’s high stakes competitive career race, why should you consider a summer spent working at a camp rather than struggling to pad your résumé by taking an unpaid internship, a thankless seasonal entry-level job, a or spend the summer on your parent’s couch?
A camp job - whether it is with our summer or Outdoor School spring and fall programs - can give you many real career benefits that go far beyond a pay check. Take a moment just to consider what we think are the top ten benefits of working at our camp These thoughts are a compilation of our staff beliefs, the wise words of many other camp professionals and the feedback from other organizations in the industry.
1. Learn True Leadership Skills
“Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that wouldn't have happened otherwise.”
A leader is someone who can bring people together and can guide them toward a common goal. Effective leadership requires much more than the ability to assign tasks to a group – anyone can do that! As the leader of a group of children or camp staff, you will learn to nurture an environment that encourages cooperation, personal growth, and positive participation. You’ll be that mentor and guide for the campers, requiring you to use your skills to manage group dynamics, to motivate individuals, to set common goals and keep group on track to accomplish them.
2. Effective Communication
You will be required to communicate effectively with people of all ages and abilities in a wide variety of situations. You will learn to give good, crystal clear instruction to a diverse audience. You will learn how to rephrase something when your good, crystal clear instruction left everyone befuzzled. You will learn patience, patience, patience as you practice the fine art of negotiating (“the pool’s not that cold – really – let’s get in!”).
And most importantly, you will learn to really listen, not only to what is being verbalized – but to what a shy camper or a concerned parent or teacher is really telling you.
You will collaborate, compromise, sympathize, empathize, build consensus, build trust, build rafts, build friendships, relationships and pirate ships. Being part of the camp staff is no different from being one of the campers - everyone at camp pitches in. It takes everyone doing their part to make the summer run as smoothly as possible – from the office staff to the kitchen staff to the maintenance crew. You’ll encourage teamwork as you go through activities with your campers, and you’ll appreciate the teamwork with your colleagues as those sudden summer storms wash out a tent camp-out, or when the long extra hot days make the camp day a little more challenging.
The camp program may have schedules and the standard set of activities, but the true spark comes from the creativity of the camp staff. Thinking up new activities to lead for a diverse group of kids takes creativity. Making costumes, inventing sports and coming up with skits and songs takes creativity. Motivating kids and colleagues, keeping it fresh day after day and keeping it a fun environment often requires a little thinking outside of the box. Camp runs on the creativity of abstract thinking!
Our camp hires an amazing team of staff members from around the corner and around the globe. You will work with a diverse group of folks who bring an array of talents to our camp. You will cultivate relationships and friendships with people whose path you would otherwise never have crossed. You’ll leave camp having bonded with new friends just as the camp kids do. Your summer experiences will keep these bonds strong long after the last camp bus has left at the end of the summer. Your season spent on staff will automatically enroll you into the camp's Alumni – a lifetime network of friends and colleagues thousands and thousands of members strong. You may come to camp without knowing a soul but you’ll leave with great memories and some new lifelong friends. Goodbye at the end of the season is seldom goodbye forever.
Your job at camp brings with it a great deal of responsibility. Parents are entrusting you with their children, and the camp directors, board of directors, and 100 years of camp history – all have their faith in you continuing the legacy! It can be a little overwhelming when framed like that – but you will hold a position of responsibility like no other.
You become tuned in to knowing when a small disagreement between campers could turn physical, and knowing how to redirect the situation. You learn how to know the difference between homesickness and real sickness. You learn how to put the needs of others first for a while. You learn how to pay attention to the quiet kids as well as the class clowns, and make sure everyone is valued. You learn to get the group to where they need to be on time, fed and heard and happy and safe. Camp counselors are truly surrogate parents for as long as the kids are at camp. It is well known that the best counselors act with integrity, accountability and compassion. Those camp counselors are the most important part of a campers’ successful camp experience!
7. Expand Your Own Skill Set!
You will bring your own unique skills to camp, and you’ll leave with so many more. The wide variety in our camp activities will allow you to experience new adventures just as the kids do. There are the true “camp” skills to learn such as pitching a tent or lighting a fire or paddling a kayak or making a tie dye T-shirt. There are the silly skills such as 3 minute zombie makeovers with 8 year olds or learning how to sing 25 campfire songs. And there are the resume building skills such as first aid trainings and lifeguard trainings, behavior management and anti-bullying workshops. Think of summer camp as a ten week skill enhancement course – where you are paid to participate! And when you do put “Camp Counselor” on your resume, you can list the number of children you were responsible for, the trainings you did and the skills you now possess. The camp will give you many marketable career skills.
8. Save Money!
You get to live rent free and have all your nutritious meals cooked for you! While you are at camp you will earn a wage (unlike most internships) and won’t have to worry about most out of pocket expenses such as internet, laundromats or electricity bills. Camp also offers several professional trainings at no cost to you, and most transportation to and from local public transport points on your days off.
9. Have Fun
Despite all the hard work and responsibility that comes with the job – it is really a fun job. You get to live, play, and work in the great outdoors on a beautiful camp. You get to work in an inclusive, positive, supportive environment with amazing colleagues and awesome kids.
10. Make a Difference
You will be given the opportunity to create a significant and positive impact this summer. You will become a child's hero. You will become part of an organization that has been making a difference for over 100 years! Now that is a pretty productive way to spend a summer!