Helllloooooo little blog!
Remember when I said in my last post that I would whip up some tips for camp recruitment fairs? Well here I am, better late than never! I know there’s loads of different agencies and I’ve already been hired so I’m not 100% sure if these fairs are still going on. However, the beauty of the internet means this post will still be lurking for those attending fairs in the future. It took me six years to (be age appropriate) and finally set aside the time and at-home/life responsibilities to actually apply and I spent those six years stalking and soaking up every bit of information I could. Even now, I still find myself reading posts like these because I love it!!
Anyway. If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll know I have applied through AmeriCamp however, once upon a time in the year of 2016, I also attended a Camp America fair at Old Trafford so I can provide you a few tips that I’ve compiled and witnessed from two different fairs with different companies.
Just a minor history flashback- I attended the CA fair with a couple of friends who were also interested in camp. I attended in the knowledge that I couldn’t be hired (dates, exams, holidays booked etc) I just wanted the experience in preparation for when I would finally apply. One of my friends did get hired and proceeded to have a summer at camp that same year. I did a few interviews and was offered a few jobs on the spot but my exam timetable hadn’t been released by this point so I had to put my availability after the last possible date which SUCKED. If memory serves me correctly, I’m fairly certain I did have an exam on that day anyway looool story of my life.
Basically, I attended one recruitment fair on a whim with no research into the camps, no preparation at all and I attended another recruitment fair fully ready. A difference between the fairs I will point out is with Camp America, you can just attend without having started an application/paid any fees or anything like that. Whereas with AmeriCamp, you do have to have started your application and paid the first fee. Depending on who you go with and whether you know 100% that you definitely want to go to camp, that is something to bear in mind. So in no particular order, I bring you a few tips to help you along your way!
1. Be yourself
So cliche it hurts! Okay so I know I said in no particular order but this is the most important. This is a tip for life as well. You’ve gotta be yourself! Camps want to get to know you as a person and know that you’ll fit in nicely with their family and values already so if you’re not 100% yourself, you might get placed somewhere you’re not the best fit for and you won’t really find out until you get there. Think of it like this, you’re a jigsaw piece and you’ve tried to squash yourself into a nearly complete jigsaw, when really, the jigsaw you belong to is just another table over y’know. Plus if you’re not yourself, you’ll blend in (scary).
Small anecdote for you- I got ready the morning of the AmeriCamp fair, like any other morning and out of habit, put on all of my rock n roll, biker-esque jewellery, all of which I’ve got no plans to fly across the pond or have at camp cos I’ll be so sad if I lose them plus they’re totally not all child friendly. So I obviously didn’t even think not to wear them, like I wear them everyday of my life and have done for who knows how long, but they are a part of who I am, heavily inspired by the music I like and the rock n roller’s I admire. So obviously I wore them whilst I’m speaking to all the camps and the camp that hired me saw them at the end of my interview where it was pointed out that I couldn’t wear them at camp, and that was the point I realised I was even wearing them at all and sat there like ‘omg I put these on out of habit, I didn’t even think about it but I have zero intention of even flying them out cos I’ll lose them u know’. So there I was wearing child-inappropriate biker rings, cards fully on the table, 100% myself and still got hired.
At the recruitment fairs I attended, in both instances a list of camps that will also be there was provided. If this wasn’t emailed out to you, it could quite easily be found online. Like I said, for Camp America, I didn’t research anything before hand. But when I was there, I knew who was hiring my skill and it didn’t take long to give them a quick Google. Not as thorough I know, but all those years of last minute exam cramming has more than paid off.
But for AmeriCamp, I looked at every camp relevant to me and thoroughly researched my top three (for the CA fair, I probably would’ve had a top five). I looked at their values, their motto, who attended the camps, what activities they did, literally everything and wrote them down on a sort of crib sheet and memorised it. A mini tip: when picking your top camps, it’s a lot easier to memorised and get excited when you truly believe in what they do and their values. If you find places that parallel your beliefs, you’ll find it so much easier!
3. Be prepared
Now alongside the research, for the AmeriCamp fair, I took a portfolio. Inside that I had a few printed copies of my application, my CV, my DBS check, rosettes and medals. I also had a photo album on my phone with a selection of my sporting pictures. I’d strongly recommend taking your application. When I arrived at AmeriCamp, I was asked if I had a copy so I believe that if you don’t, they will print one for you. It is a job interview, so that’s why I included my CV plus it is a mini insight into your background what with all of your education, achievements and work history. For CA, I recall having to fill in a quick paper application upon arrival as I didn’t have one submitted. My DBS check (I still want and do call this CRB) had been sorted weeks before the fair so I figured that was a good thing to include and show that I had been checked and was more or less ready to go. Then the rosettes/medals/photos were all relevant to me and what I was applying for but obviously if you anything relevant to your skill(s) that are quite easy for you to take with you, then do. It adds the bite to your bark.
4. Be honest
So this relates more so to your skill. Going on my own experience, I was asked whether I’d be able to do xyz and could I do this and that and those that I knew I could do, I was like yeah sure no problemo. The stuff I didn’t have experience with i.e. in my case, western riding is something I’ve definitely done once and I feel like I did it on holiday many, many years ago but I can’t remember the saddle- like I was honest in my abilities, I can ride a horse, I know I can and I have vast experience in primarily young and spooky horses but not so much in the western saddle. But the important thing was I said I would be willing to learn and I honestly would (as a horse rider, this is a bit of a no brainer for me, so hand on heart it wasn’t a lie to say that) but if you’re not comfortable with what is being asked of you or you genuinely believe you might not be able to do something, then you must be honest about it. At the end of the day, if you’re not honest, it won’t be beneficial to you or the camp when you’re across the pond- you’ll find yourself trying to fit a jigsaw with a different picture (one day the analogies will end, but I looove them).
5. Go alone
Okay, Miss hypocritical has returned to the party- I did go to the CA fair with my friends but not in that very respect. We drove there together and agreed to meet at the end but that was it. Once in there, we split off in separate directions, different camps. We joked that it would be funny to be hired at the same camp, but we weren’t actively seeking this. Some people do want to be hired with their friend but I wouldn’t recommend that. I can only liken it to university, when people went to the same place with their home friends and they literally hung out with each other all the time. Which is fine don’t get me wrong, but those people didn’t truly branch out, they didn’t make as many new friends, they didn’t experience things entirely on their own and it’s not very independent in my personal opinion.
I’d strongly recommend leaving your parents at home and if you go to the fairs with your friends, put yourself first and go for what you want to do and the camps of your own personal interest. I remember at the CA fair, parents couldn’t go in and your friends couldn’t unless they were applying so it really is pointless. At the AmeriCamp fair, I recall some parents being there but it’s a long day like let them stay at home, or if they’re giving you a lift, let them go explore which ever city you’re in, meet them at the end.
It’s inevitable you’ll meet people at these fairs and it’s good experience to try talking to new people, especially if you are quite shy. Also, going alone to a new city will be a pretty good test whether you can actually do it. I know that sounds harsh but you’re going to be flying across the pond, possibly by yourself and you’ll be in another country for three months without your parents/friends. If you can’t make it to another city alone, odds are you’re probably going to struggle across the pond. Sorry that sounds harsh but that’s how I see it- then again, I’ve moved and lived hours from home, I have flown by myself on multiple occasions, I’ve been halfway around the world by myself, maybe it’s my age LOOOL.
6. Be early
I had to include this because you see this tip everywhere. To an extent, I guess it’s true. Like it is a long day, thousands of people attend, it’s busy, you’re competing for the camps and positions you want so obviously the earlier you can be in the room, the better. For the CA fair, they split their queues into three- people with specialised skills i.e. lifeguards, equestrian etc, people who have applied/had an interview and people who haven’t applied/have just turned up wanting to be placed. Everyone wears a different coloured sticker so the camps know who is what. The people with the skills go in first because they’re in demand and odds are, they’re going to be placed. Next in are the people who have applied and have been screened by CA so the camps know that they’re more or less good to go and finally, the people who haven’t got an application go in. Being early to each queue is likely beneficial but even if you’re the first person to turn up to the fair, unless you have a specialised skill, you won’t be going in first.
At the AmeriCamp fair, I did turn up for my time slot and around 12:30, but my top three camps were all arriving after 4pm. I probably could’ve turned up later, it’s just a case of eyeballing it. Like if you know what you want to go for, then be early because it’ll no doubt increase your chances. I don’t know how different it would have been if I had turned up later, but I definitely wouldn’t have met and spoke to all of the people I did. Plus the HQ where it was held was pretty mega, so being early definitely wasn’t too bad!
7. Dress the part
Eyeball this one. It’s recommended that if you can wear any relevant clothing, then do. i.e. if you have coaching jackets, or club shirts or whatever in the skill you want to be hired for, then it shows (kinda like photos) that this is your sport, do u get what I’m saying. Obviously, I didn’t do this- I was hardly going to walk about in my very, very muddy boots and chaps, stick my hat on u know. There was no point me cleaning all of my equipment (in January might I add, where it was going to end up in the same state soon after) plus my equipment is pretty expensive- I didn’t want to trek it all to Manchester and wear it in an environment where it wasn’t needed. So I went pretty smart casual, standard day to day wear, one of my fave outfits etc you get the idea.
8. Don’t be disheartened
Finally, don’t be disheartened. These camp fairs are busy and they’re huge, loads of people attend and you are competing for the same positions and not everyone is going to get placed. But that’s okay!! The camps that attend these fairs are only a small handful of who these agencies work with. If you don’t get hired at the fair, there are still hundreds of camps looking at your application and it’s extremely likely you’ll still get hired- just don’t give up! If anything, the fairs will give you interview experience of the sorts of questions camps will ask you. So you’ll be super prepared when a camp contacts you for an interview- you might even be snapped up without the need for one. I get that it can be disappointing but just don’t give up, attend another fair if you want, keep your chin up because you’ll be snapped up soon!
So there are a few of my tips for recruitment fair success, hopefully they’re of some use to you! Enjoy your day and I’ll see you all in another post soon!
Also- sorry to keep using images of Bradgate Park, I have nothing else relevant and it really is such a beautiful place. Sorry this has been such a word heavy post, have a picture of the weird tree of life. My favourite tree to ever exist, I love it so much, it looks so weird, I love it.