Don’t Just Sit There! Start Getting More Summer Camp Experience

May 16, 2023

If you love working with kids, have a positive attitude and love of the outside, crafts and games; being a summer day camp counselor could be the perfect job for you. Flexibility is a big plus in this type of job, as you never know what the day will throw at you, and you’ll 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. Below are a few tips for getting 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 a few 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 most importantly, a sense of humor.

Apply Early!

This is vitally important as camps often start looking for staff in the winter months. If summer group leader ‘re a little late, don’t worry; many programs still have openings in May and June. Have good references readily available and note that some sites will request you to make a YouTube video to accompany the application.

Looking Locally

If you’re looking for a job near where you live, contact local day camps, YMCAs, town recreation departments and other youth organizations to see if they are looking for summer camp staff. You might know other people 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.

Are There Educational Requirements?

While you can find not specific educational requirements for summer camp counselors, it can help to possess CPR and MEDICAL 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 maybe you have been a camper. On your application, emphasize your summer camp experiences and how you intend 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 the counselor role.

Use Your Camp Connections

Many counselors were once campers at the very same camp to which they’re applying. Naturally, this might provide you with a leg up in the hiring process as you already know the camp culture, traditions and songs, and best of all; you have a real and infectious love of the camp itself.

Get Experience Working With Kids

Although you may not have specifically worked at a summer camp, it is possible to 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 if 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 also have the capability to put others before yourself, you will be a good candidate.

Do You Have a particular Talent?

If you have a specific talent or area of expertise that fits 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 together with your expertise on the violin or experience with musical theater production, while wilderness camps may zone right in on the truth that you may spend years in Boy Scouts or spent summers camping together with your family. Any certifications in camp-related areas may also be important.

So, get working on that resume! Remember to 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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