Why They Come Back
An interview with Shelby Deakyne
At Camp Tecumseh, we believe working at camp is as valuable, if not more valuable, than any other summer job or internship. At Camp, you learn the most essential skills that will help you thrive in any career.
At the same time, most college aged adults feel the pressure to complete an internship as a means to secure the best job after graduation.
Those that work at Tecumseh understand the benefit of this job, both on others and on themselves. But we want to drive these points home so employers and future applicants know: working at Camp gives future employees a leg up with important on-the-job skills.
I asked Shelby Deakyne, who is coming back to work a 5th summer, why she keeps choosing to work at Camp Tecumseh, even as she pursues internships and full time work.
When did you first begin working at Tecumseh?
I first started working at Tecumseh in the summer of 2017. I’d just finished my freshman year of college and was so excited about working at camp. I was a camper for 6 years and honestly walking into staff training I remember feeling so lucky that I’d be the one in the blue polo that summer.
Why did you want to work at camp?
Well, first of all, it sounded like the most fun way to spend a summer. All my friends applied for jobs in offices or waiting tables, but that wasn’t my vibe. I wanted a job where I could truly enjoy my time off from school, while still gaining experience I could use when applying for jobs post graduation.
I think during my first interview back in 2016, Joel asked me this same question and my answer from then still holds true. The counselors I had at Camp Tecumseh completely changed my life. I know it sounds dramatic, but seriously, they did!! Their care, support, and dedication to being the best counselors they could, shaped me into the person I am today, and I wanted to be that for my campers.
What were some of the skills you immediately gained while working at Tecumseh?
Problem solving and conflict management were two of the first skills I gained at Tecumseh.
Working with kids, there is no doubt you’ll run into some conflict and by the end of staff training, I was ready to solve whatever problem might come my way.
Flexibility is another huge one. From unpredictable weather to swift changes in activities, I learned how to roll with the punches and think on my feet. You truly do need to be able to pivot to a new plan in a matter of minutes, and that’s something I learned early on for sure.
I think patience is a big one too. You’re not only working with children, but also with a lot of different counselors with differing personalities and ideas about everything. Without patience, I don’t think I would’ve lasted one summer. It’s a huge skill that helped me stay level headed and allowed me to continue finding the joy in my job, even when things were a little frustrating.
What were some skills that came a little later while working at Tecumseh?
Leadership was one of those that came with time. As I got more comfortable with the daily schedules of camp, it became easier to guide the other counselors and take charge in large group situations. I also learned how to be a “silent” leader, which I think is one of the biggest and most important skills I’ll take away from my time at camp. I learned that to lead, you don’t always have to be the loudest one in the room. Sometimes, a group needs the leader to sit back, lead by example, and solve problems through collaboration.
You have a college degree. You’re looking at full time jobs. Why continue to work at Camp?
There’re so many reasons. At the end of every summer I’m always like “no for real! this is the last summer!!” and then the applications go live in the fall, and I just feel I can’t let go of it quite yet. The opportunity to work at a camp doesn’t have a super large time frame, unless you’re pursuing a full time position, which is another way I tend to justify my decision.
I actually had to make a huge decision between coming back to camp this summer and applying for an internship I have to complete to secure a job in my field. I thought about it for so many months, but in the end, I decided I still have more to give to camp. Tecumseh has given me role models, best friends, second chances, inspirational campers, opportunities for growth, and the list goes on. I just hope I can give camp half as much as they gave me.
You just touched on this some, but what is it about Camp that brings you back, as opposed to just working at a restaurant in between internships?
I think one of the coolest things about working at camp versus a restaurant or a coffee shop, is that at camp, the mission is built on core values that most, if not all, staff members share. We are all unique individuals with different beliefs, perspectives, and life stories — but these core values tie us together.
The people, in general, are another reason I come back. Campers, counselors, full time staff – they are all so wonderful. It’s also cool that at camp (if you’re there long enough), you’ll see campers who have been going to camp for 10 years go through each unit, and eventually become counselors. That kind of dedication and passion to a single organization doesn’t usually show up in other summer jobs.
This will be my 5th summer on staff, and this year one of my past campers (now coworker?!?) is on support staff, another is a unit coordinator, and a few will be coming back as day camp and overnight camp staff. Getting to see my campers grow into staff is one of the coolest things and makes me so proud.