Why working with children is one of the best things you can do.

Was hoping for one more summer.

We all know things in the world aren’t okay. And quite frankly I’m getting sick and tired of prefacing all these blog posts with something COVID-19 related but unfortunately that’s just the world we’re living in right now. And as if the multitude of illness and death wasn’t bad enough, it is becoming a sad time for the American Camp industry as summer camps cancel their summer programmes for 2020, including my own.

Of course it is sad that children won’t be able to have their home away from home for a summer but when put into perspective, if you can’t guarantee a safe environment, then there’s no question. But camp will survive. This has got me thinking though, and this is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I’ve dedicated my last 7 summers working with children in the US and I wanted to just shed some light on why working with children is perhaps one of the best things you can do.

To give you some context though. I’ve always known I enjoyed working with young people. At school I always took any opportunity to work with children whether that was through peer mentoring, or sports leadership. It was always quite fascinating to me though because even though I knew I enjoyed it, it wasn’t something I wanted to do career wise.

I am lucky now that for my job I get to sell the idea of working with children for a summer and it is honestly one of the easiest things to sell in my opinion. Working with children will not only enrich the kids life, but it will enrich yours also. And there’s not many jobs where you get that reciprocity. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get into it.

Everyone has it in them to work with children
This may seem like a pretty bold and broad statement but I think for the most part it is true. And this isn’t me saying that if anyone tried it they’ll instantly be able to do it. But if you really wanted to do it, anyone can. It is the only job you’re going to have that you have years of experience in. Of course I don’t mean this literally but we were all kids once. We all know the struggles and challenges of being a child and we can use these experiences as a good foundation for forming any kind of relationship with a child. Of course working with children is a bit more than this, especially depending on what setting you’re in. But when interacting with children in an informal setting such as camp for example, it is very easy to be yourself and see these children for who they really are. They’re not just taking up a seat in a classroom, you have great leeway in getting to know each child individually and able to form lasting bonds and relationships.

Children are funny
Some of the funniest things you’ll every witness will come from children (and this blog). It’s one thing finding someone funny who is trying to be funny but kids often have no idea. The pureness and innocence in them leads to some truly hilarious moments that you just don’t get from anywhere else. It also means your job will always throw you new surprises and joys. Everyday is like Christmas because you don’t quite know what your kids will have in store for you. And there’s something quite fascinating (and funny) about witnessing a young human trying to make sense of the world in their own little way. And yes, most of the time they get it wrong but thats why we’re there.

Child development is an amazing thing to witness
No one develops quite as quickly as a child does. When I think about how I was 5 years ago, I wasn’t that different to how I am now. But just spending even a few weeks with a child the changes and development you witness first hand is quite incredible. And it isn’t always subtle things such as attitude changes or social skill building. You are able to teach them very tangible lessons, such as teaching them how to swim or how to make a bed. It is really quite fascinating, and it isn’t something you will typically see unless you have kids of your own. We all know that children are like sponges. The amount of information they are able to soak up is quite astonishing and for you to be there as a role model, a possessor of infinite wisdom and knowledge, it does great things for your own ego. Ego boosting is okay in slight doses in my opinion.

Employers will love you
And not only if you’re going into a child-focused career. Employers appreciate the complexity and arduous task of working with little humans. When I try and sell the idea of working at summer camp to young people I always say that it is one of the hardest jobs you’ll have but it’s also one of the most rewarding. Not just because of what I spoke about in regards to witnessing child development but also the rewards for your own professional life. You will learn skills that you can’t attain at most other jobs and your drive and commitment will really be tested. When an employer sees that you’ve worked with children, no matter the capacity, there is a myriad of connotations this has in regards to your experience and where your strengths lie. Working with children just generally teaches you life skills, how to effectively build relationships with other people, how to cope with emotional trauma and distress and what it really means to be someone that sets an example and potentially a role model.

It forces you to grow up pretty damn quickly
I don’t know if anyone else feels like this but I feel as though my age is forever increasing but my mentality is always playing catch up. I don’t know where I expected to be at age 25 but part of me feels like I should feel a bit more grown up than I actually do. But let me tell you, nothing quite makes you feel the swift hand of adulthood when a parent leaves their child with you, turns around and says “Goodbye, see ya in a week!”. All of a sudden you are responsible for another human life and there is a parent out there that has implicitly trusted you to take care of their pride and joy. This is something that I always think about and never take for granted. It’s easy coasting through life only worrying about yourself or having parents to do that for you. But now suddenly you’re the parent and it’s your job to protect these children for however long they’re in your care. Child safety is something that as a society we always prioritise so it’s always important to take this seriously when you are working with children.

These are only a few reasons why I believe working with children is perhaps one of the best things you can do, especially as someone who is around the ages of 18-24. It sets you up nicely for your future prospects and gives you an environment where you are able to develop both professionally and personally.

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