How Camp Teaches the Soft Skills Needed to Excel in the Workplace
School guidance counselors may indicate that mastery of the hard skills are a college acceptance prerequisite. They might push your sons and daughters to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects in school and in their college application essays, citing that only those fields can provide them with high-salaried positions and job security in the long-run. But while these subjects may lead to employment at leading tech firms, the soft skills are the qualities that will enable your children to truly excel in the workplace of tomorrow.
Hard skills are the job-specific skills and knowledge you need to complete any job. And in truth, without them, your child will likely be unable to obtain employment. Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal (people) skills. They include communication skills, listening skills, and empathy, among others. Can an employee be a good coach? Can he or she communicate and listen, give and receive insights, have and demonstrate empathy, think critically or solve problems? If he or she does not possess any of these qualities, no amount of formal education or focus on particular trades, will be enough to help them hold any job they might land in the modern working world. And while soft skills are learned, schools are not usually where they are taught.
Soft skills are directly and indirectly taught in informal environments, like at camp. At camp, boys and girls are thrust into an intensive social hub, where they must learn to communicate and cope with their peers, in the bunk, at meal times and on the playing field. Here are some ways that soft skills are taught at camp:
Through bunk living
When you send 10-20 young boys or girls, relative strangers, to live together in a single cabin for a month-long session, soft skills are bound to develop. This is because your son or daughter will have to communicate his or her needs, listen to others and learn to make compromises, if the social experiment that is bunk living is to succeed. This is true of bunk cleaning responsibilities, being considerate of ill or sleeping bunkmates and respecting the privacy and property of each and every bunkmate. Bunk living teaches your children how to adapt and deal with difficult people, manage crises and always be courteous. And when one of their new friends develops homesickness, can’t find a favorite item of clothing or suffers a breakup, empathy will be of the essence. Without sitting down for a single formal lesson, campers learn significant soft skills, simply by sharing living quarters for the summer.
Through independent living and new experiences
Camp will be your son or daughter’s first stab at independent living. Your children will travel far from home and will be thrust into the world of ensuring their belongings are clean and in order, their bodies are regularly showered and their bellies are adequately filled (with help and supervision from excellent counselors, of course!). Experimenting with these (and other) new experiences will equip your sons and daughters with the soft skills that allow them to think critically, make independent (and smart) decisions, solve problems and develop into a thoughtful, conscientious leader.
Through participation in a wide variety of activities
At camp, your child takes part in many activities: sports & fitness, extreme sports, arts, swimming, music, drama, outdoors and social action programs. Joining in on all scheduled activities, regardless of personal preferences, teaches your children important lessons in keeping an open mind, flexibility, deal making and developing a desire to learn. What’s more, when your kids take part in camp activities, they develop a more positive attitude and team spirit, learn to follow instructions and persevere under challenging circumstances they may encounter along the way.
While schools may push hard skill education, your child’s future employer is looking to hire a more complete package, someone who possesses soft skills and canapply them to the workday and business operations. Camp is the perfect environment for your child to learn the soft skills his or her future bosses are looking for. The living conditions and programming that summer camps offer naturally teach boys and girls soft skills like communication, empathy and compromise that will travel with them back home, to school and beyond.