Camp, Education

Camp to Career: Preparing Children for Success

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s the infamous question we have all been asked or even asked someone else at some point. Children, however, are usually the group who are on the receiving end of this question the most, and their recurring answers include teachers, doctors, engineers, actors or singers, gamers, or even influencers. While some careers don’t provide a how-to on successfully landing the job, there are routes that can be taken to help children still pursue their passions.

Attending a summer camp focused on a child’s chosen career interest provides an opportunity for the child to not only explore their passion but also help them work toward turning their camp experience into a career. Many hiring managers or casting directors are often looking for previous experience, and by attending these career-focused camps, children are able to gain that experience at an early age.

Choosing a Pathway

When it comes to pursuing a career, half of the children know what pathway they want to take while others are still undecided. By attending a career-focused camp, they are able to pursue a variety of interests to help them narrow down their future choices.

Xavier University’s Pre-College Programs provide “summer opportunities for academic enrichment, mentorship, career exploration, and lifelong friendships.” These programs allow campers to prepare for healthcare and medicine opportunities, as well as law and government fields.

No matter the chosen avenue, campers are able to get a jumpstart on the career of their choice, among other benefits.

Gaining the Experience

Children who are going into their chosen careers with experience under their belts are already standing out from the crowd. Career-focused camps help these children gain this experience early on, and they can keep returning each summer to fine-tune their skills or choose a different route to explore, all while networking with those who are already in the field.

Bethany Hopewell, M.Sc., Director of Pre-College Programs and Office of Student Success at Xavier University, shares, “Our programs are academic in nature and focus on college readiness. Participants are exposed to careers throughout the programs through guest speakers and panels.”

Some camps will even take field trips, allowing campers to see everything in action so they can see what it’s like to perform the chosen career.

An added bonus to Xavier’s pre-college programs is that former campers can even get hired by the college. Hopewell shares, “We employ our former campers as current camp staff! Every year we have graduates from Xavier Pre-College who are now Xavier students who work for us in the summer. We love keeping the cycle of mentorship going and creating professional development opportunities for our college students.”

Learning and Growing

While these particular camps are unique in providing a starting point for a career, they also provide many of the basic skills seen in traditional camps: team-building, problem-solving, communication, and leadership.

Hopewell adds, “Participants develop critical reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. They gain independence and confidence as they navigate living away from their families and making choices about their free time, and they’re immersed in the culture of Xavier University of Louisiana and New Orleans, experiencing food, art, and music.”

Attending a career-focused camp catapults children into the career of their choice, providing them with a unique–and fun–opportunity to explore their interests and get an early start at landing the job of their dreams.

This article was originally published in March 2024.

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