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.
As a general counselor you will live in 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 positive attitude are a must!! Expect to share some games and activities that are specific to your country as you share your culture with your fellow counselors and campers. If you have great childcare experience but less knowledge in a specific activity, this is the job for you! A large portion 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 specific 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 with campers, 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! Working as a camp counselor 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, who they take responsibility for 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’ arrival 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. It can be hard work at times, but incredibly rewarding if you’re up for the challenge!
Working as a counselor 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.
Camp is amazing. It’s not what I expected at all. It’s ten times better