Laser Tag Outlets, Doggie Dude Ranches Vying for Teen Workers This Summer

Interesting, offbeat jobs may lure young workers away from pools, hamburger joints

By Dana Wilkie May 21, 2015

If your company is looking to hire teens this summer, the competition just got pretty tough.

Thanks to the job postings on the Internet, as well as state and federal programs designed to provide an enriching summer job experience, employment opportunities for teens on school break are no longer consigned to the local mall or community pool.

Instead, teens can referee paintball parties, enjoy flight simulators as space camp counselors, or romp with dogs at posh pet resorts.

“Camps, dude ranches, amusement parks and other recreational companies are hiring people from all over the country and the world,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a global outplacement consultancy. “If you can get there, these employers are not only willing to pay a good salary, but will often provide room and board.”

For instance, Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City, N.Y., is advertising for a “paintball referee.”

“Do you like extreme sports?” reads the company’s ad. “Are you a people person? Are you a great customer-service-type of person? Looking for a position with a stable and growing company in today’s world? Indoor Extreme Sports is looking for paintball and laser tag referees! We are looking for customer-service-friendly people who will be running/refereeing parties throughout the day.”

Sort of beats flipping burgers.

Though companies that rely on teens for more traditional summer jobs—in retail stores, fast-food joints and restaurants—needn’t worry too much about losing talent to, say, Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, Calif., which is advertising for a “cabana host” who will assist guests “with questions, concerns or special requests.” Most of the available summer jobs remain at conventional outlets, Challenger said.

Still, he said, teens may be inspired to bypass that lifeguard job for something that spiffs up a resume. Something like being a “space camp counselor” at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.—educating kids and adults about the history of space and aviation, not to mention “experiencing the sensations of space travel” in flight simulators.

“A summer spent at a fishery in Alaska, for example, is going to spark a lot more conversation in job interviews than a summer internship in an office,” Challenger said.


The Doggie Dude Ranch in Watkins, Colo.—a popular rural pet resort—is seeking a “kennel technician.” Yes, there’s some grunt work, like cleaning dog rooms and play yards, doing laundry, and washing dishes. But the job description also includes playing with dogs in the yards and in the pool. “The dogs play outside in all kinds of weather and you will be outside supervising them,” the advertisement reads. So in other words, bring your raincoat.

Camp Augusta in Nevada City, Calif., is looking for a “master of fun and games” whose chief responsibility is “making wish, wonder and surprise a reality.” The chosen candidate gets to design and organize “intricate evening programs and daily PlayStations”—the camp’s play on the video game system name—that involve various summertime activities.

And for those who love a good party, Bowlmor AMF—a bowling outlet in Englewood, Colo.—is hiring “birthday party hosts” who love “to be with others, and are ‘laser-focused’ on making the party a great time.”

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow her at @SHRMDana

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