Looking for an amazing summer job? When you work as a camp counselor with organizations like AmeriCamp, you’ll build valuable work experience, earn money, and make new friends while participating in fun activities with your campers. We take the stress out of traveling abroad and finding the perfect camp counseling job, and support you through the entire process, including preparing for your counseling job. In this guide, we’ll cover camp counselor tips like:
- What you should expect as a camp counselor
- Some tips on adjusting to your new schedule and activities
- Advice on how to be a great camp counselor
- Camp counselor tips you can take home after camp is over
Keep reading to find camp counselor tips and tricks to prepare you for success at the best summer camps in the US and worldwide.
What to Expect as a Camp Counselor
Learning more about how to apply to your camp counseling job, your responsibilities as a camp counselor, and what to expect before you start traveling is a great way to prepare for your camp counseling job, and to help calm any anxiety you might have about traveling abroad.
By taking away the pressure and complications that can come with visas, paperwork, and sponsorship, you’ll have much more time to enjoy and prepare for your trip!
How to Apply for a Camp Counseling Job With Ease
To qualify for our camp counselor program, you need to be:
- Free of criminal history
- 18 before June 1st of your program year
- Proficient in spoken English
- Able to pass a background check
- Available from early June to mid August
- Be a student, youth worker, teacher or individual with specialized skills (such as team sports, water sports, arts & crafts to name a few)
- Experienced or interested in working with children from the ages of 8-15 (although there are some camps for adults)
At Americamp, we’ve worked with thousands of students to place them at the best summer camps in the USA.
Becoming a camp counselor with us is as easy as filling out your application, submitting your required documents, being paired with a camp and preparing for your trip. You’ll have an AmeriCamp team to support you from the application process all the way to the end of your counselor contract to ensure that you have the best summer possible! Along with your support team, our camp counselor program also includes:
- Meals and accommodations for your stay
- Health insurance for the duration of your contract
- Access to a 24 hour emergency hotline
- J-1 visa sponsorship
Pre-Departure Advice and Prep
While the thought of scheduling your flight to the U.S. for your summer job may seem intimidating at first, your host organization will likely help you find your booking at the best possible price. Here at Americamp, we can help with that too. You’ll also attend a pre-departure orientation with AmeriCamp before you leave, to ensure that you’re ready to go.
When it comes to packing for your trip, remember to follow the TSA’s official guidelines. You should also consider the location of your camp, as it can get cold at night in some parts of the U.S. even during the summer. It’s also a good idea to think about the activities you might participate in at camp. Some basics you should bring to camp are:
- Comfortable shoes for walking
- A jacket
- Sandals or flip flops
- A bathing suit
- Extra socks
- Insect repellent
General Camp Counselor Responsibilities
Once you arrive at camp, your duties will vary depending on your camp placement and its location. No matter the location, camp counselors are what keep summer camps running. They are role models for their campers, and are generally expected to:
- Lead and participate in camp activities like sports, hiking, and arts and crafts
- Help set up and put away camp equipment
- Assist campers at mealtimes
- Organizing and prepping activities for campers
It’s good to note that your responsibilities may change on your camp placement, and what that camp has to offer for your campers.
Specialist Camp Counselors
While regular camp counselors generally help out wherever they’re needed, and may be responsible for a cabin or a group of campers, specialist counselors are a little different.
If you have a specific skill set, like experience with the outdoors, sports, horseback riding or archery, you may have the opportunity to become a specialist counselor. Specialist counselors are normally in charge of leading, organizing and participating in one activity for the whole camp, which differs from a normal camp counselor’s schedule.
For example, AmeriCamp specialist counselor Melissa is centered around her special skill set. At Melissa’s camp, she taught four teaching periods of music a day, and aside from regular meals and camp activities with other camps and counselors, she had the evenings for free time.
Camp Counselor Tips
If you’ve never worked at or gone to a summer camp job before, adjusting to your new schedule or taking charge of activities you’ll be expected to lead might be a little jarring. And while you don’t need any experience to become a camp counselor, it can be helpful to know a little bit about your new camp life, and what to expect.
Adjusting to Your Camp Counselor Schedule
To pack each day with as much fun and learning as possible, most camps run on a schedule. As a camp counselor, you’ll probably have your own schedule to follow, and it will vary depending on the type of camp you’re placed at.
A typical summer camp schedule looks something like this:
Morning: Typically, counselors get up before their camps to prepare for the day ahead. Once you’ve prepared the activities for your day, it’s time for your morning routine to begin:
- Breakfast for the whole camp
- Morning activities
- Preparation for lunch
Afternoon: Once morning activities are over and the hottest part of the day hits, counselors usually prepare for lunch, and afternoon events or activities.
- Lunch for the whole camp
- Afternoon activities
- Downtime before dinner
Evening: Once the hottest part of the day is over, counselors prepare for both the end of today, and anything that might need doing before morning set-up for tomorrow.
- Dinner for the whole camp
- Evening activities
- Camper bedtime
- Clean up and staff meetings
Leading and participating in camp activities
As each day is packed full of activities, camp counselors will have plenty of games, sports, and crafts to keep busy. As a camp counselor you’re a leader, and will most likely watch over a group of campers and guide them through the various events planned at camp. This can include responsibilities like:
- Enforcing safety and emergency protocols
- Being prepared to diffuse conflict between campers
- Supervising your campers at all times
- Participating in activities alongside your campers
Summer camps are mostly located in rural or urban areas, and as a result, not every camp will offer the same types of activities. For example, a summer camp in a wooded area might have:
- Areas for camping
- Climbing surfaces
- Hiking trails
- Zip lines
While a camp with a pool or lake might offer activities including:
- Water polo
Other than activities specific to location, most summer camps offer standard camp activities you might have seen in popular TV shows and movies, like campfire stories, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and outdoor sports.
Here at AmeriCamp, our affiliated summer camps will offer their own unique schedule and programming, guaranteed to give you and your campers an unforgettable experience.
Camp Counselor Advice
Besides general camp responsibilities and activities you might experience, being a camp counselor also includes keeping a positive attitude and acting as a role model for your campers. And while that can seem a little complicated at first, we got you.
What Summer Camps Look For in Their Counselors
The ideal camp counselor is someone who’s upbeat, adaptable, and responsible. Positivity is super important, as well as the ability to observe and act quickly when it comes to conflict. Other things that summer camps look for in an ideal counselor are:
- Knowledge or proficiency in activities like sports, the outdoors, or crafting
- The ability to work one-on-one with campers, as well as with a whole group
- Any first aid or CPR training
- Excellent communication skills
- Any prior child care experience
- Leadership skills
How to be a Good Camp Counselor and Role Model
As a camp counselor, your campers are going to look up to you. While developmental psychologists have known children learn by imitating adults, they’ve also recently found that children sometimes copy everything they see adults do. It’s considered to be an important driving force for behavior in young adults.
Acting as a good example for your campers is absolutely essential. As a camp leader, your campers will not only look to you for direction, but also as an important authority figure. So it’s important that you practice patience, mindfulness, and be aware of your behavior and how you present yourself to your campers. Some other things you can do to be a good role model for your campers are:
- Remaining calm when resolving conflict
- Be unbiased and open minded
- Support your campers and your peers
How to be a Good Camp Counselor
To be a great camp counselor, it’s essential to remain positive, flexible, and fun. The best camp counselors are good listeners, can think on their feet, and multitask. Other qualities that make camp counselors great are:
Camp Counselor Tips You Can Take Home After Camp
At the end of camp, summer camp counselors develop important life skills that they can apply to both professional and personal situations. Many counselors even return to AmeriCamp, and come back as experienced, fantastic camp counselors! Returning counselors also have the opportunity to discuss an increase in pay with their camp.
As a camp counselor, you pick up transferable skills that you’ll use on your career path no matter what the discipline. Camp counselors become leaders, and leadership skills are always important in the workplace or at University. Other skills you develop as a counselor include:
- Excellent team work
- Time management
- Quick decision making
You can also list your camp counseling position and skills you’ve picked up on your resume, including your international work experience!
While working as a camp counselor, you’ll also have time to work on your own self improvement, including personal fitness. Running around with your campers and leading activities will help you stay active. With the variety of different activities at camp, you’ll also have the chance to learn more about your likes and dislikes. As a camp counselor, you’ll also work on:
Traveling After Camp
At the end of their contracts, camp counselors have 30 days to travel anywhere in the United States. That means as a counselor, you’ll have the opportunity to tour the USA for the rest of your summer, and explore different cities and states. From Miami to New York, the US has plenty of interesting tourist spots to visit!
Work at the Best Summer Camps in the US
Ready to become a camp counselor?
By working as a camp counselor with AmeriCamp, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the United States, make new friends, experience nature, and earn money.
Camp counselors make a minimum of $2,000 during their contracts, and we support you through the entire process. Your AmeriCamp team of specialists will take the stress out of traveling abroad, leaving you to enjoy your amazing summer and make memories that will last a lifetime.