Whatever your skills, knowledge and experience, as long as you have the work ethic and a burning desire to make a positive impact on the lives of children, there is a job for you at camp!
General Summer Camp Counselor
Don’t worry, ‘counselor’ does not mean psychologist or therapist!! A counselor at camp is responsible for the general well being of a group of campers and makes sure they are safe at camp!
As a general counselor you will live a bunk with one or more co-counselors and a group of children. You can expect to join in lots of different activities with your bunk, so flexibility and a desire to jump right in and have a go at anything is a must!!
Expect to share some games and activities that are specific to your country too as you share your culture. If you have great child care experience but less specific activity experience, this is the job for you! A large proportion of the summer camp jobs available include working as a general counselor.
Specialist Summer Camp Counselor
Specialist counselors take on the overall responsibility for coaching and organizing a particular activity at camp. If you have a certification or experience teaching a skill then this is the role for you! A specialist counselor provides daily instruction in a specific activity (or activities) to groups of campers. The types of specialist skills in demand by camps are numerous so don’t forget to include all your skills and certifications in your online profile! Specialist counselors also take part in overall camp life, so be prepared to live in a cabin and join in evening programs and help with other activities.
What does being a summer camp counselor involve? This program has been designed for you to spend a fun and worthwhile summer working with children in America but it’s definitely not a free holiday! It can be hard work with long hours, but for most participants, it’s hugely rewarding and enjoyable if you’re prepared to throw yourself into the spirit of camp life.
Usually, two or three counselors are assigned to a cabin of four to eight children and take responsibility for them at camp. The camp director expects staff to set a good example, ensure that the children keep themselves and the cabin clean and that they follow the camp’s routine. Your responsibility for the children may include dealing with homesickness and personal problems as well as looking after and teaching them. Your role is like that of brother/sister/parent/teacher/friend and cheerleader all rolled into one.
You will have an orientation once you arrive at camp. This can last from one day to one week, depending on your camp. This orientation could include; preparing the camp for the kids or getting to know your role and how the camp operates. You may not know all of your duties until after the orientation when your camp director has assessed all the staff and assigned the various jobs.
A Full-time Job
You should be prepared to spend 24 hours a day with the children, living and sleeping in the same cabin, working and playing with them. Hard work at times – but incredibly rewarding if you’re up for the challenge!
It can be a beneficial and enjoyable experience for anyone with the desire and enthusiasm to work with children, whether you have a specialist skill or sports ability, or not.
Teachers or trainee teachers find that camp is as relevant and useful to gain experience working directly with children. Non-teachers and non-students have much to contribute to and gain from the program as well. There are also many openings for those with experience working with mentally, physically or socially disadvantaged children.
Support Summer Camp Staff
Behind every great organization there is a support team, working hard to make sure the operations of the organization run like clock work. Camp needs them too. Do you have experience in Housekeeping, Kitchen or Office Work? Why not consider a role as support staff? Every camp requires individuals to be part of the team “behind the scenes” – ensuring everyone has the equipment, facilities, and food they need to keep camp running. Support staff roles typically receive a higher salary and are allocated more free time to ensure you can get involved with the day-to-day fun of camp! You will live separately to the campers in a staff bunk and will enjoy all the fun of camp without the added responsibility of looking after campers directly! To work as support staff you must be a full-time student in University on your summer break.
What does being a Support Staff member involve? If you have office, maintenance, kitchen or housekeeping experience, then this is the role for you at camp. Every camp requires a team behind the scenes, ensuring everyone has everything they need to keep the camp running smoothly.
Support staff roles generally involve a higher salary, and more free time, but you will not live with children. Typically expect to stay in a cabin with other support staff members. You will be trained once you arrive at camp and be prepared to not know all of your duties until after orientation when your supervisor has assessed all the staff and tasks.
A Full-time Job
You should be prepared to spend long days at work. A typical work schedule for support staff in the kitchen could be:
- 6.30am – Begin Work, prepare, serve and clean up breakfast
- 10.30am – Break
- 11.30am – prepare, serve and clean up lunch
- 2.00pm – Break
- 5.00pm – Prepare, serve and clean up dinner
- 7.30pm – finish work
Whilst you may start at 6.30am and finish your day at 7.30pm, this does not mean you are working 13 hours. With breaks for lunch and general breaks throughout the day, on average you will work 10 hours per day
The amount of involvement in camp is up to you. You have to be willing to put forth the effort to spend time with cabins when not in the kitchen and make friends with counselors.
You can expect to have one day off per week and often 2 days off at the end of every session (between one set of campers leaving and the next arriving). That 2 day break is an ideal time to travel a little further than you normally would and visit a bigger city or something further away from camp
“Camp is amazing. It’s not what I expected at all. It’s ten times better” – Summer Camp Participant