Summer camps are a cornerstone of American culture and, for many Americans, teenage camp counselor jobs are a rite of passage. There are an estimated 12,000 camps in the US, which serve over 11.5 million children, youth, and adults every year.
American summer camps have been represented in countless movies, like The Parent Trap, Moonrise Kingdom, Wet Hot American Summer, and Camp Rock. If you watched any of these movies growing up, you might have dreamed of attending an American summer camp. Maybe you fantasized about s’mores, campfires, cabin living, camp cheers, and relay races. Well, here’s some good news: it’s not too late! You can attend an American summer camp AND get paid for it!
If you’re searching for an affordable way to spend a summer abroad in the U.S. while fulfilling your camp dreams, keep reading to learn about how AmeriCamp makes that possible.
How AmeriCamp Helps You Land the Perfect Teenage Camp Counselor Job
AmeriCamp’s teenage camp counselors all receive standard perks, including:
- Spending 9 weeks working at an American summer camp
- Earning at least $2,000
- Traveling for up to 30 days after camp ends
AmeriCamp offers camp counselor jobs for teens 18 and up who want a unique cultural experience to add to their CV. Employers highly value intercultural skills– the ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints. Spending time abroad allows you to cultivate these skills, putting you at an advantage over those who do not have international experience.
To participate in AmeriCamp, you must be:
- At least 18 years old
- Proficient in English
- Comfortable supervising and interacting with children
- Without a criminal record
What’s Included for All Teenage Camp Counselor Jobs
While you are making new friends in your teenage camp counselor job and experiencing different cultures, you will receive more perks from AmeriCamp programs! These include:
- Salary: First-timers receive a salary of at least $2,000. Returning participants may negotiate their salaries with the camp.
- Accommodation: While accommodations can vary from camp to camp, cabins or platform tents are most typical. If you are a counselor, you will probably share a cabin with your campers.
- Insurance: Participants receive up to 90 days of medical insurance, which covers accidents and illness. Your insurance covers you at camp and on your days off. After your camp contract ends, you may extend your insurance or upgrade it.
- Meals: During a typical day at camp, you will receive breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert! Egg bars, Korean food nights, ice cream sandwiches, and lots of s'mores are just some of the tasty treats that alumni have reported.
- Visa Sponsorship: To spend your summer in the US, you will need a J-1 visa, also known as The Visitor Exchange Program. Fortunately, AmeriCamp saves you a headache by sponsoring your visa and assisting you throughout the whole application process.
What to Expect from Teenage Camp Counselor Jobs
Choosing to become a camp counselor is the first big step. Next, you get to choose your own adventure! When making your decision, be sure to consider:
- The different types of camps you can be placed at
- The different roles you can choose from
- The various responsibilities you will have
Your Camp Placement
AmeriCamp acts as a matchmaker to place you in a camp that is well-suited for your personality and skills.
There are a LOT of different kinds of camps. Here’s a quick rundown:
Private camps are probably what most of us picture as the classic American camp. These camps are often located somewhere scenic like in the woods or on a lake. Campers usually stay in cabins and participate in activities like arts and crafts, canoeing, swimming, archery, campfires, and sports. Private camps are a strong fit for anyone as their offerings are so varied.
Nonprofit camps are similar to private camps in their offerings. The key difference is that they are often mission-based and seek to make a social impact. These camps might serve kids from low-income families or children struggling with chronic illness. Working at a nonprofit camp might appeal to you if you’re interested in mentorship or have a passion for social justice.
Special Needs Camps
Special Needs camps cater to children with special needs. While some of these camps welcome kids with any kind of special need, others are more targeted toward specific needs. Some camps might be geared toward kids with autism while other camps may focus on kids with physical disabilities. If you’re interested in working with special needs populations, this might be a great fit for you.
AmeriCamp participant Sophie loved her experience as a counselor at a special needs camp. Read about her experience at her camp counselor job!
Themed camps can also be thought of as specialized camps. They are great for kids who have a passion or interest that they want to further pursue. They’re also a strong fit for AmeriCamp participants who have a specific skill set they want to share with others. For example, if you’re a nature enthusiast, you might look for outdoor camp counselor jobs. Other themed camps include:
- Sports camps
- Performing arts camps
- Horse riding camps
Religious camps are often a blend of traditional camp activities and religious education. They may include prayer and spiritual teachings alongside arts and crafts, swimming, and other common activities. If your faith is an important part of your life, consider employment at one of the many religious camps in the US.
Day camps can fit into any of the above categories! They may be nonprofits or geared toward kids with special needs. Or they may be themed or religious. The only difference is that these campers go home at the end of the day, meaning that camp counselors aren’t on the clock all day. If you’re looking for a classic camp experience, but sleep-away camp seems overwhelming, a day camp would be a strong fit for you.
Different Roles of Teen Camp Counselor Jobs
As an AmeriCamp participant, you have various roles to choose from, such as:
- Specialist counselor
- Regular counselor
- Kitchen staff
- Administrative support
- Grounds work
- Nursing and healthcare support
Specialist counselors are in charge of specific activities based on their expertise. Many camps look for counselors with specific skill sets. If you have expertise in horse riding, guitar, magic, photography, archery, or another desirable skill, you might consider being a specialist counselor.
If you’re hoping for a traditional kids camp counselor job, then a regular camp counselor position is probably right for you. These counselors help with all kinds of tasks and activities across the camp and wear many hats.
Or perhaps you’re interested in a more unique camp counseling experience. That’s okay, too! Camps are always looking for staff in various roles, ranging from cooks to administrative support. You can play an important part in helping the camp run efficiently.
Your Responsibilities as a Teen Camp Counselor
Support staff responsibilities vary greatly depending on the role, but counselor responsibilities are generally the same across camps. As a counselor, you can expect to
- Organize, lead, and participate in camp activities
- Supervise campers and ensure their safety and well-being
- Keep campers on schedule
- Set up and put away equipment
- Assist at mealtimes
- Mediate disputes between campers
Why Should You Choose a Teen Camp Counselor Job?
Camp counselor jobs have so many perks! You’ll find that your teenage camp counselor job experience benefits you personally and professionally. Here are just a few of the reasons to work at a camp:
- Share your passions with others
- Develop workforce skills
- Learn new talents
- Make long-lasting friendships
- Travel the US
Share Your Passions with Others
AmeriCamp alum Rachel pitched a Pinterest craft class, which she was able to lead! She also taught a ukulele class, selecting two songs from Hamilton to teach her campers. Melissa taught camp choir, organized a humorous musical production, held classes in guitar, ukulele, and djembe (African drum), and even led a session on how to invent your own instrument.
Working at a camp is the perfect way to introduce your passions to others. Campers are eager to bond with their counselors and try out new things. If you have a certain talent or interest, you can absolutely embrace it at camp, just like Rachel and Melissa!
Develop Workforce Skills
Working at a camp provides you with valuable skills that you can apply to almost any job. You will develop:
- Leadership ability
- Time management skills
- Strong oral communication
- Problem-solving skills
- Increased empathy
- Adaptability and resilience
Your teenage camp counselor job experience will have you organizing activities, mediating disagreements, speaking in front of large groups, and sometimes navigating chaos and uncertainty. Fortunately, these skills are in high demand, and employers will be impressed!
Learn New Talents
You’ll be developing skills for the workforce, but you’ll also have fun cultivating your own talents! Here are a few things that you can learn at camp:
- Foster a musical talent, like guitar
- Improve your swimming
- Develop wilderness and survival skills
- Learn new dances
- Go tree-climbing
- Become a nature expert with nature identification
- Take up sailing
Make Long-Lasting Friendships
Camp counselors and staff spend a lot of time together, resulting in genuine bonds. It’s common for camp employees to spend their free time together, doing activities like swimming, playing cards, and taking trips into town. AmeriCamp participants often travel with their fellow staff after the program ends and report keeping in touch with their camp family for years.
Travel the U.S.
When camp ends, you are free to travel! Alix worked at a camp in California and decided to further explore the state at the end of the summer. She traveled around Los Angeles, Catalina Island, San Diego, and San Francisco. She also visited national parks like Yosemite and Sequoia.
Another AmeriCamp alum visited Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago with their camp friends.
How Can You Benefit from an Abroad Teen Camp Counselor Job?
Working at the best summer camp jobs in the US is a great introduction to living and working abroad. Students and teenagers with international experience generally:
- Accept new challenges and embrace uncertainty
- Have strong communication skills
- Embrace independence
- Expand their professional network
- Have a global mindset
Accept New Challenges
Living abroad means facing challenges and learning to overcome them – so does working at a teen camp counselor job! You’ll take on new responsibilities, all while navigating a new culture. Your camp might ask you to teach a certain skill or lead a specific activity, and your job is to give it your best!
You’ll be doing a lot of problem solving, which will increase your confidence and ability to cope with uncertainty. In fact, 96% of students who studied abroad reported increased self-confidence and problem-solving skills .
Develop Strong Communication Skills
You may find that you’re living and working with camp counselors and campers who have very different communication styles. It’s important to put in the effort to understand their perspectives and customs, so that you can effectively communicate with them and form relationships. It also means that you have to voice your needs, emotions, and concerns more often than at home. The end result is improved social skills and adaptability. 80% of students who spent time abroad reported that the experience allowed them to better adapt to diverse work environments.
Traveling abroad means embracing independence; you’re in charge of your itinerary and day-to-day decisions, all while navigating a new and unfamiliar place. While this might seem intimidating, it also means embracing your strengths and learning to rely on yourself, which can be a very powerful experience. Spending time abroad gives you increased confidence in making decisions for yourself–a trait that employers really value.
Expand Your Professional Network
Living abroad gives you an opportunity to build relationships with people from outside your home country. It’s important to nurture those connections, because you never know who might be able to help you in the future. Having a broad, international network can only help your job prospects!
Have a Global Mindset
Your international experience gives you a unique perspective that employers will value. A global mindset means that you are open-minded, capable of thinking outside the box, and sensitive to the perspectives and backgrounds of others.
How To Land Your Camp Counselor Job
At this point, you’ve read about the benefits of camp jobs and the powerful impact of spending time abroad. If that resonates with you, you’ll definitely want to keep reading to learn about how to get hired!
- J-1 visa and required documents
- Camp placement and interview
Step #1 in landing your amazing camp counselor job is the application. We have a 99% placement rate for applicants accepted into the program, so get started on that application! It should take around 60 minutes to complete. Reach out to AmeriCamp for information on the program and any help in completing the application.
J-1 Visa and Required Documents
It sounds overwhelming, but AmeriCamp will sponsor your visa and help you every step of the way! To get approved for your visa, you’ll need:
- A copy of your resume
- Your passport
- An interview with the U.S. Embassy or consulate in your country
You will also need to submit the following documents to AmeriCamp:
- Local background check
- Medical history
- Any relevant certificates
Camp Counselor Placement and Interview
Once your application is accepted, you will have an interview with AmeriCamp. Be prepared to discuss your qualifications, examples of leadership, and why you’re interested in working with kids.
If you’re approved after this interview, you’ll record a video where you outline your interest in camp counseling and your abilities. (Check out Zoe’s tips for the video here.) AmeriCamp will distribute your application and video to camps around the country. It’s best to know what to expect in a camp counselor interview once you’ve been matched.
Congratulations! You’re already on your way to landing the best teen camp counselor job! You’ll be joining a community of curious and globally-minded individuals – some of whom may turn into lifelong friends! For more information on teen camp counselor jobs, reach out to us here.