If you’re looking for an exciting way to spend your summer, consider working as a camp counselor in the US! The US is a melting pot of different cultures, and filled with thousands of interesting tourist locations to explore. Being a camp counselor will not only give you international work experience, but you’ll also:
- Make new friends
- Experience American culture
- Encounter nature
- Earn thousands of dollars
- Develop important life skills
Here at AmeriCamp, we’ve helped people across the world land amazing camp counselor jobs across the United States! If you’re interested in exploring resources and learning how to find the perfect camp counselor job, this guide is for you. Read on to prepare for an amazing experience!
Why Become a Camp Counselor?
Becoming a camp counselor opens you up to so many possibilities; international travel, the chance to connect with nature, the opportunity to work at the best summer camps in the US, all while earning money and building important life skills.
Experience American Culture
Summer camps offer a unique and interactive introduction to living and working in the US. They've been around since the late 1800s, and were originally invented to help young boys build character and work on their education in the summertime. Summer camps for girls appeared in the early 20th century, and focused on skills like sewing and housekeeping.
Needless to say, summer camps have changed with the times. They’ve evolved into co-ed camps focused on things like team sports, outdoor activities, crafts, and games. Every year, millions of children are enrolled in American summer camps to learn new skills, have fun, and connect with other kids. Most summer camps offer the classic, standard fare you may have seen in American movies or TV, like:
- Campfire stories and outdoor cooking
- Outdoor activities like hiking and camping
- Team building games and sports
Connect With Nature
With summer camps scattered across rural and urban locations across the United States, camp counselors can visit locations in nature like National Parks and experience breathtaking views like Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park in Utah, or gorgeous forests like the one at Yosemite National Park in California.
America also has thousands of beautiful beaches, mountains, and deserts to explore, while camps located nearby bigger cities can also give counselors access to theme parks, and famous film and TV locations.
If you decide camp counseling is for you, your adventure doesn’t stop after your contract is over! At AmeriCamp, counselors have the opportunity to travel anywhere in the US for 30 days once their contracts are complete.
There are plenty of exciting places to visit in the US, like beautiful Catalina Island with its amazing hiking trails, or famous cities like New Orleans, where you can join the world’s biggest, well known Mardi Gras party. The US also has plenty of different local destinations to visit or events you can attend, like:
- Nature reserves
As a camp counselor, you’ll earn a minimum of $2000 during your summer contract. If you fall in love with your camp and decide to return in the future, returning counselors have the opportunity to negotiate higher salaries with their camps.
Our camp counseling program also covers your accommodations and meals throughout your contract at camp, and access to a 24-hour emergency helpline.
Is Being a Camp Counselor Worth It?
Each year, around 25,000 international students travel to the US to become summer camp counselors. As a counselor, you’ll build international work experience to list on your resume (CV), work on personal development, and make important connections with other staff at camp. Each day will be jam packed with different activities, and opportunities to grow both inside and out!
Camp Counseling vs Choosing an Internship
Why choose a camp counseling program abroad over an internship in your home country? While the ability to travel internationally is a great reason, and internships are normally the traditional way to build your resume over the summer, camp counseling expands your horizons by keeping you busy with a variety of different activities and experiences. By choosing to work as a camp counselor abroad, you’ll:
- Develop a diverse skill set: working as a camp counselor helps you build and practice skills like leadership, communication and teamwork, while internships may only focus on a specific career path or discipline
- Be compensated: many internships are unpaid or volunteer positions, and with our camp counseling program, you’re guaranteed to make at least $2000 by the end of your contract
- Teach and guide youth: as a camp counselor, you’ll lead your campers through activities like team sports, arts & crafts, and games
- Work outdoors: you’ll get to stay active by working and exploring the great American outdoors with your campers
Personal and Professional Growth
21st century skills like critical thinking and collaboration are essential tools that carry over to future careers, and as a camp counselor, you’ll develop these naturally while you work and interact with your campers.
As the world continues to change, these skills have never been more important. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 73% of employers want job candidates with skills like communication, leadership, and teamwork. Camp counselors build these skills at camp, along with others like:
When it comes to personal growth, camp counselling is a great way to discover more about yourself. While working as a counselor, you’ll sta active while leading and participating in activities with your campers. You’ll also work on:
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Time management
- Organization skills
- Self confidence
AmeriCamp Counseling Experiences
At AmeriCamp, our team of placement experts along with camp directors take special care to pair counselors with summer camps for the best match. As a result, many of our counselors return, we maintain a high counselor retention rate, and our counselors have amazing experiences to share.
At one of our summer camps in Massachusetts, Laura’s summer as a counselor “changed her life for the better” while working with 40 other counselors that became like family. Even years later, Laura still remains in contact with some of her counselor friends every day. She believes her experience as camp counselor “readjusted her comfort zone, and showed her that she was capable of so much more” than she’d originally thought before.
Rachel, another AmeriCamp alumni, had days full of teaching her campers the ukulele, managing their schedules, and enjoying meals like Korean food for dinner. Rachel enjoyed interest groups like card games, tetherball tournaments, and helped to develop activities like a Pinterest craft class. Rachel found that she enjoyed the challenge of scheduling and staff management.
Interested in learning more about camp experiences from AmeriCamp counselors? Check out our reviews!
Working as a Camp Counselor
As a camp counselor, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a variety of different activities.
Depending on where you’re placed, your duties may vary, along with how you can apply for counseling or other summer camp staff jobs. With AmeriCamp, you’ll be assigned a specialist team who will support you through your entire camp contract, including your application and preparing to leave for your summer of adventure!
Camp Counseling Job Details
Camp counselors are leaders at their summer camps, and are an important part of day-to-day activities. As a camp counselor, your general responsibilities may include:
- Teaching and leading activities with your campers or other counselors
- Setting up and putting away camp equipment
- Assisting with mealtimes throughout the day
- Enforcing safety and emergency protocols
Responsibilities for different camps will vary depending on what those camps offer. For example, a camp with a pool or body of water will need counselors to lead or supervise watersports or swimming-based activities.
Applying to a Camp Counselor Job From the UK
If you’re a resident of the United Kingdom, you’ll need a J-1 visa from the UK to work as a camp counselor in the United States. And while that may seem complicated at first, don’t worry. We’ve worked with thousands of students from the UK to get a job in America.
As an official J-1 visa sponsor, we can help take the stress out of obtaining your visa so that you can focus on your upcoming summer adventure. Your specialist team will support you through your entire J-1 application process, which includes:
- Filling out a DS-2019 form
- Submitting required documents
- Attending an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate
Since J-1 visa processing time can take around 4 weeks, it’s best to keep this in mind when you prepare for your trip.
Preparing For Your Camp Counselor Interview
Once we pair you with the perfect summer camp, it’s very likely that a camp director will reach out for an interview. Like with any job interview, it’s a good idea to dress professionally, and to have your resume prepared.
Some questions you might be asked at your interview include:
- Two of your campers are arguing. How would you diffuse the situation?
- Why do you want to become a summer camp counselor?
- Have you ever worked in childcare before, or worked as a babysitter?
- Did you go to summer camp as a child?
Camp Counseling Jobs Available in the United States
With 1.5 million job openings at American summer camps, there’s always a need for camp counselors. At AmeriCamp affiliated summer camps, you can find job openings for general camp counseling, along with specialist counseling, and even summer camp staff positions.
Specialist counselors are camp counselors with specific skills in things like music, a team sport, or the outdoors. Specialist counselors are normally responsible for leading one activity camp wide, while regular camp counselors help with a variety of different tasks.
Summer camp staff members are the backbone of their camps, and keep them running efficiently. There are a variety of different jobs you can work as a member of a summer camp staff, such as:
- Kitchen staff
- Administrative support
You’ll have great jobs to choose from, and your AmeriCamp team will find you the best possible fit when it comes to your camp!
How to Become a Camp Counselor
Interested in becoming a camp counselor? It’s as easy as:
- Meeting our program qualifications
- Filling out your application
- Understanding your costs and fees
While that can sound like a lot, at AmeriCamp we’re dedicated to supporting our counselors through their entire camp contracts, including the application process. We make preparing for working abroad as stress free and simple as possible to ensure that you can focus on your upcoming summer.
To work as a summer camp counselor in the United States, you’ll need to be:
- At least 18 by June 1st of your summer program year
- Proficient in spoken English
- Able to supervise and interact with American children
- Free of criminal history
Prior experience is always welcome, but not required.
Filling out your application is simple and normally takes around 60 minutes. To complete it, you’ll need to provide us with:
- Your professional references
- Any related certificates (like CPR or First Aid)
- A local background check
Once your application is complete, you’ll be ready to be paired with a camp and to attend an interview with a camp director. Camp counselors also attend a pre-orientation with us before traveling abroad to make sure they’re ready to go.
Fees, Costs, and Benefits
As a camp counselor, you’ll have access to benefits, which include:
- Medical insurance for the full duration of your contract
- A 24 hour emergency helpline in the USA if you happen to experience any problems
- Your pre-departure orientation
- A free t-shirt
- Discounts on AmeriCamp hoodies and shirts
- Discounts from our partner companies like Camp Thailand, Camp Bali, Camp Maldives, Camp South Africa and Invasion
Your program costs and fees will cover:
- Your camp placement
- Your J-1 visa sponsorship
- Your pre-departure orientation
- Full support throughout your application process
Your program costs do not cover:
- Your flights
- Embassy fee
- Medical check
- Criminal background check
What is it Like Being a Camp Counselor?
As a camp counselor, you’ll have a schedule to follow, general responsibilities, and campers to look after. And while this can seem overwhelming at first, we’re here to help! Read below to learn about American summer camps, what a normal day might look like for a camp counselor, and how you can mentor and manage your campers.
How American Summer Camps Work
Each AmeriCamp affiliated summer camp offers their own schedule and programming, which can vary depending on the type of camp it is, and its location. Types of camps you may encounter include:
- Themed camps: centered around a specific activity, like horseback riding or basketball
- Day camps: open only during daytime hours, and do not include evening activities or overnight stays
- Religious camps: based on a specific religion or religious philosophy
- Non-profit camps: run or owned by a non-profit organization
- Special needs camps: for campers with disabilities
- Private camps: privately owned and run by an individual or family
Each camp will offer its own unique activities and scheduling to make for an exciting summer!
A Day in the Life of a Summer Camp Counselor
Summer camps operate on a routine or schedule so that each day can be packed full of activities and events. You’ll be kept busy with fun activities, meals, and preparing for your day, along with any special duties assigned to you. A general day in the life of a camp counselor normally includes three stages:
- Morning: Staff and campers alike get up early, and enjoy activities in the coolest part of the day before the summer heat sets in. You’ll start with breakfast, and most likely follow up with afternoon activities.
- Afternoon: Your camp will recharge with lunch, and your campers may enjoy some free time so that camp counselors and staff can prepare for the next part of the day. Afternoon activities like watersports or more laid back activities like arts and crafts are normally scheduled during the hottest part of the day.
- Evening: You’ll round off the day with dinner, and evening activities. Campers will enjoy things like outdoor cooking to make smores, campfire stories, or music. Counselors and camp staff may attend staff meetings or make preparations for the next day before bedtime.
Managing Your Campers
A big part of being a camp counselor is acting as a good role model. It’s important to set a good example for your campers, and do your best to:
- Be calm and mindful when resolving conflict between campers
- Follow and abide by all safety and emergency procedures
- Be patient and understanding
It’s also essential to be patient, positive, and open-minded. As a counselor, you’re an important authority figure, and you’ll be leading and participating in all sorts of activities with your campers and other staff.
Be a Summer Camp Counselor at the Best Camps in the US!
Ready to have the best summer of your life? Apply to become a camp counselor in the United States, and build important work experience while connecting with new friends, earning money, and making memories that will last a lifetime. We’ll take care of your J-1 visa sponsorship, and support you through your entire camp experience.