From Camp Walt Whitman to The Ringer: Why Being a Camp Counselor Was Great for My Career
“I had such a great experience as a camper,” said Juliet Litman, Head of Production at the Spotify-owned media company The Ringer, reflecting upon her eight years at Camp Walt Whitman. Partly it was the counselors themselves that made camp so fun – and why she wanted to become one herself.
“Me and all the girls in my bunk, we loved our counselors. They were so influential and they were such great role models. I was excited to play that role for the next generation of campers. It was also just so incredibly fun.”
Today, she manages a large team that covers audio, video, and social production for the sports and pop culture site and podcast network, and her time as a camp counselor at Camp Walt Whitman still ranks high among her invaluable work experiences.
“It gave me the ability to hone leadership skills, to think of and be responsible for other people, while also having a really fun time being in the mountains all summer and being somewhere beautiful with my friends.”
She hosts three podcasts, “Ringer Dish,” “Food News” and “Bachelor Party,” and whenever she references her time at camp, she often hears from listeners who went to camp themselves and can relate. “It’s like an automatic bond and a shared language.”
Being a counselor also gave Litman great management experience.
“I have to lead a lot of meetings and every time I have to talk to a group or present myself in front of a bunch of my staff, it feels like being a counselor to me in many ways.”
At work she strives to be both a colleague and a leader, similar to the dual roles she played at Camp Walt Whitman where she was both a counselor and a friend to her campers.
There she learned “how you can both gain people’s trust and be a confidant, while also being fair and leading by example…I do think being a counselor is great experience for that.”
Her summer as a cabin counselor also taught her the value of bridging generational divides at work among younger staff members.
“I think being comfortable asking questions and learning about things you don’t know about from people younger than you is such a valuable experience. There’s something to learn from everyone and it doesn’t necessarily correlate to age.”
That exposure to different life experiences didn’t stop with campers. The international cast of counselors, who hailed from Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and beyond also impacted Litman’s perspective. “You are introduced to different people who have totally different lives and…it just broadens your idea of what the world is and what you could be doing with your time.”
Litman did have other internships that taught her valuable skills — like writing articulate emails. “Someone once told me to never put ‘thank you’ in the first line of an email, and I’ve always remembered that,” she said, noting that it’s better to make the letter more meaningful beforehand.
But nothing compared to the experience of working away from home for seven weeks — a crash-course in real-world responsibilities.
“When we were counselors, we were really able to practice being an adult in a way that you can’t necessarily do at university or elsewhere,” says Litman. “You have to manage being responsible for younger people while also being responsible for yourself. It’s a pretty unique experience that you can’t really get elsewhere outside of actually having a family and a job at the same time.”