How To Buy A Summer Camp Experience On A Shoestring Budget


If you love working with kids, have a confident attitude and love of the outside, crafts and games; being truly a summer day camp counselor could be the perfect job for you personally. Flexibility is a big plus in this sort of job, as you never know what the day will throw at you, and you will need an upbeat, can-do attitude. Whether you’re supervising lakeside activities, wearing a wacky outfit and doing the chicken dance or mediating a squabble between campers, you will have to bring on your best game. Here are a few tips for obtaining the summer job of one’s dreams.

What Do Camp Counselors Do?

Typically, counselors are hired to act as recreational leaders supervising overall camp operations or teaching various special activities. Swimming, archery, horse riding, crafts and nature education are just some of the myriad fun-filled outdoor activities you’ll enjoy right combined with the kids at day camp. You will need plenty of patience, creativity, leadership skills and above all, a feeling of humor.

Apply Early!

This is vitally important as camps often begin looking for staff in the winter months. If you’re a bit late, don’t worry; many programs still have openings in-may and June. Have good references on hand and remember that some sites will ask you to create a YouTube video to accompany the application.

Looking Locally

If you’re searching for a job near where you live, contact local day camps, YMCAs, town recreation departments along with other youth organizations to see if they’re looking for summer camp staff. You might know others who work there and be able to use these connections.

Look On-Line

There are a number of websites listing summer camp jobs including Camp Channel, Camp Depot and Camp Page. Cool Works, a summer job site, also has some interesting opportunities.

IS THERE Educational Requirements?

While there are not specific educational requirements for summer camp counselors, it helps to have CPR and First Aid certification and it may even give you an advantage over other applicants.

Be Creative with Previous Experience

OK, maybe you haven’t been a camp counselor, but perhaps you have been a camper. On your application, emphasize your summer camp experiences and how you would like to carry the fun forward by learning to be a counselor yourself. If you have spent a summer or two at a camp as a counselor-in-training, you have actual on-the-job experience dealing with campers from a counselor role.

Use Your Camp Connections

Many counselors were once campers at the very same camp to which they’re applying. Naturally, this would offer you a leg up in the hiring process because you already know the camp culture, traditions and songs, and on top of that; you have a real and infectious love of the camp itself.

Get Experience DEALING WITH Kids

Although you may not have specifically worked at a summer camp, you can accumulate other experience working with youngsters. Tutoring younger kids, volunteering at afterschool programs, assistant coaching on kids’ teams and babysitting are all invaluable experience with children. Ask guidance counselors, coaches or teachers for suggestions.

Emphasize Your Positives

Even though you’ve never set foot in a summer camp, your personal characteristics may position you nicely for a job. Approachability, empathy, leadership ability, creativity and enthusiasm are traits that directors are looking for within their staff… and just a little goofiness doesn’t hurt! If you are responsible, caring and have the ability to put others before yourself, you’ll be a good candidate.

Do You Have a particular Talent?

If you have a particular talent or area of expertise that ties in with the camp’s programs, be sure to highlight this on your own resume. Camps that emphasize the arts, for instance, may be thrilled with your expertise on the violin or experience with musical theater production, while wilderness camps may zone right in on the fact that you spend years in Boy Scouts or spent summers camping with your family. Any certifications in camp-related areas may also be important.

So, get focusing on that resume! Be sure you emphasize the positive, list all related experience volunteer or paid and put your enthusiasm and love of kids’ front and center.

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