If you enjoy teaching, spending time with kids, the outdoors and being active, becoming a camp counselor might be the perfect job for you. The hours and duration of work can be flexible, anywhere from after school hours to two-week 24/7 summer sessions. Not only will you spend time teaching about things you love, but you will also learn new activities and sports as well.
What Do Camp Counselors Do?
Camp counselors spend their days interacting with and teaching kids at camps. Some counselors are hired as general staff who spend their days working with kids on all types of activities, while others are hired as specialists who stick to one area and teach different groups all day (such as teaching kids how to water ski, or horseback ride). Regardless of which, a counselor spends many hours with kids, so a positive attitude and love for children is a must.
Who Can Become a Camp Counselor?
Just about anyone can become a camp counselor, the requirements are often camp specific, with training done prior to the start of camp sessions. CPR and First Aid are often preferred, but are also often done during training if you are hired. The main requirement for becoming a camp counselor is to enjoy working with kids.
Most camp counselors are typically active, fit people as well. In order to keep up with kids and teens, perform sometimes rigorous activities, and get up early and stay up late, you must be healthy. Exercise and eating right are extremely important in order to be a good counselor, and that has to start in your every-day life. You also must love being outside, as most camps are based on an outside, nature-based experience. You don’t necessarily need to know every name of every plant in the woods, but being able to identify poison ivy is a plus, along with a good sense of direction, and the motivation to keep moving.
Camp counselors are tasked with overseeing kids and teens during day- and over-night camps. They are with them from sun-up until sun-down, and teach and assist them in a multitude of activities, from fishing, hiking and swimming to surfing, horseback riding, and climbing.
Along with leading activities, counselors are also responsible for the welfare of all the children at camp. They make sure that kids are performing activities in a safe manner, and are accounted for at all times. They are trained on what to do in case of an emergency, and are expected to keep a level head and think fast when needed. They are also required to report to their supervisors and be accountable for their time and duties.
Last, but not least, counselors are also in charge of overseeing kids and their interaction with each other. It’s far different than the typical babysitting job, but counselors must ensure that kids are treating each with respect, not bullying anyone and participating in an appropriate manner. Making friends is encouraged, and being supportive of shy camp-goers is a must. Kids are not only there to learn and participate in new activities, but also to establish friendships. Counselors must support and help foster those bonds between the campers, and also be able to speak up and redirect kids when necessary.
Future Paths after Camp Counseling
Camp counselors have a number of options to choose from to move on from after camp. Many high school students choose to major in child-based fields in college, and can move into careers like teaching, recreational management, or the health care field. You could also decide that working at a kids camp is the right place for you, and move into a management position, run a camp, or start your own! With a child-based, experiential job listed on your resume, you are open to many opportunities that focus on the helping professions, the outdoors, medical careers and more.
The best way to see if becoming a camp counselor is for you is to reach out and talk to someone who has been one. If you know a friend or relative who has been a counselor, ask them some questions and pick their brain. If you don’t, make a few calls to local camps and talk with a supervisor. Many look for new recruits in the spring and will spend a few minutes to give you a good overview of what to expect. It might even be the first step in finding a wonderful summer job.
The main focus of being a camp counselor is to know that you are there to guide and be responsible for kids. If you are positive and energetic, your energy will reach outward onto them and help them to have the best time they can have at camp. At the end of each day, you will feel rewarded, valued and appreciated. Being a camp counselor is so much more than just a paycheck or summer job. It’s a great lifetime experience that can lead to many different paths, and embed in you a wealth of lifetime memories.