Summer camps are the perfect way to get started in TEFL. Aside from being a whole lot of fun, they’re a great way of testing the waters to see if TEFL is for you as contracts typically last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. And if you do decide to pursue longer-term teaching work then you already have some teaching experience under your belt, which will really help your CV stand out!
Interested in learning a bit more about what working at a summer camp involves? FOKUS Camps is an English summer camp for children and teens ages 8-16 that runs in several locations in Germany. We chatted with Camp Director Gregory Harrison to learn more about what FOKUS offers and what they look for when hiring camp counsellors.
Tell us a bit about FOKUS Camps
I had been working as a camp counsellor in Germany and started FOKUS Camps four years ago, with the vision of making the best English summer camp program in Germany. Everything we do at camp is with the idea of “how can we create the best possible experience for the kids we work with?” In practise that looks like – scenic locations near Germany’s best lakes, a great activities program, but most of all our awesome team of camp counsellors. We search all over the globe to bring in people who have the same passion as us for working with kids. Our camps have grown incredibly fast by word of mouth and we now have over 2000 campers joining us every year.
What are the most important qualities you look for when recruiting?
We value enthusiasm for working with children above all else, but we also look for people with inexhaustible energy, positive attitude, interesting personalities and hobbies. Of course, everyone we hire is also a native-level English speaker.
Is it beneficial for camp counsellors to have a TEFL qualification?
A TEFL qualification is definitely a good indicator to us that the person takes the industry seriously and is going to teach quality English lessons.
Would you say working at a summer camp is a good introduction to TEFL?
Teaching English at camp, as well as leading activities and playing games with children definitely gives our counsellors a good overview of what teaching English at language schools in foreign countries is all about. Many of our counsellors love their experience in camp so much that they go on to teach in other countries. It is a great hands-on introduction and experience for future TEFL teachers.
What has Brexit meant for recruitment? Where do your staff typically come from?
Before Brexit the majority of our staff came from the UK. The last couple of years we have been trying to find the best solution to keep hiring from there and we now have a new partnership which will allow us exactly that. Camp counsellors will have their plane tickets, room and board and a vacation week at the end of their 4 weeks covered by our partners´ funding. Our staff also come from different countries from all over the world: Ireland, Spain, USA, South Africa etc.
What does FOKUS Camps offer counsellors?
For anyone who comes to work for us we offer a perfect opportunity to develop your teaching and coaching skills, and meet and work with interesting people from all around the world. We provide free room and board and help with travel costs as well as an attractive remuneration for everyone with a valid work permit. Upon completion of the camp program we are happy to write work references for future employment.
As important as the rest is, camp is super fun and you will make lifelong friendships with amazing people from all over the world. We really appreciate our counsellors’ hard work and reward that wherever we can whether that be a staff pizza night, a bit of extra time off, or even a trip to a local, charming German pub for a traditional German lager on your days off.
What responsibilities do counsellors have?
Put simply, counsellors are there for the campers. They are responsible for the campers wellbeing, making sure they enjoy their time in camp by interacting with them, building rapport and becoming their friends. Each counsellor teaches their own small class for two and a half hours a day. In the afternoons and evening they lead and participate in all sorts of fun activities, from swimming in the nearby lake and playing capture the flag, to running a quiz or roasting marshmallows around the camp fire.
What advice would you give to someone interested in working at a summer camp this year?
Visit our web page, read through the reviews from our staff, and watch some of our YouTube videos to get a good idea of what life at FOKUS camps is really like. If you like what you see, apply for the job as soon as you can as we are really popular with many of our camp counsellors returning year after year!