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Top 10 Skills Summer Camps in America Look For

Guest blogger Natasha takes us through 10 skills that camps are looking for.

Author: Camp Leaders
17 Dec 12:13

Applying for camp is an exciting process but how can you make your application stand out above the rest? I’ve been to camp 3 times and gone through the application process twice. Waiting anxiously for a camp to pick you so you can prepare for the summer of your life. Here are some skills camps look for when hiring staff!

If you have one or more of these skills, make sure you get them into your application.

Horse riding

There are tonnes of camps in America that have horse riding available for their campers.

They need counselors who are certified or trained to be able to look after the horses throughout the summer and ensure their campers safety! Your horse riding hobby or years of competing just put you to the top of the private camp lists. Prepare for some amazing American names for these horses! Ace, Major and Trigger to name a few.

Special activity leaders

Special activities on camp can be quite dangerous and require trained supervision.

There would be activities such as Riflery, Fencing and Archery, etc. Most camps need you to be certified but some camps want you to have some experience so they can train you at camp. You may need an American teaching qualification which they will need you to pass before the summer starts. Guns, arrows and swords….America!

Special needs training

These would be for more specialised camps but some camps do have a few children which will need counselors to help assist them with everyday camp life.

They just want the same experience like every other kid so if you have training in this area you might be needed for either a Special Needs camp or for a specific role at a private or under privilege camp. Help a child achieve their best summer ever!


Lifeguarding is a skill which usually needs to be certified before camp starts. This is one skill which you can achieve within a few months, if you’re not qualified already.

Camp agencies normally let you know of Lifeguarding courses in your area. You will obviously need to be a strong swimmer, be able to keep an eye on several kids at once in the pool and look fabulous is the colour red! You’ll be living the Baywatch dream before you know it!

Art & Design

One of the activity highlights for most counselors.

The chance to let your kids loose on paint and pottery for an hour a day while you make a creation of your own….and look after your kids but they are secretly destroying the art department. Sorry guys! Yes, camps need counselors who are skilled in art and design. Teachers! You’ll need to plan your lessons and help the kids make wonderful masterpieces to take home to their parents. You will also need to be amazing at cleaning up!

Soccer Coaches

Some camps specialise in just football…sorry soccer!

You’re going to have to get use to saying soccer I’m afraid. Pretty much every camp will have a soccer program and even compete against other camps in tournaments. You might possibly even have an in-camp tournament with you and the other staff. If not, you will probably be playing a lot in your free time with the other counselors.


Babysit? You’re about to look after a dozen children at once!

Camp like to look out for possible counselors with babysitting or childcare skills under their belt. Some camps do babysitting lessons for their campers or you might even be hired to be the camp nanny for a member of head staff’s newborn baby. Even if you’ve never babysat before, maybe you have a little brother or sister you used to look after on occasion? It still counts!

Outdoor activities

Calling all Bear Grylls wannabes! If you are happier outside, camping or living off the land…camps will want you!

Camps have a range of outdoor activities you can do like Farming, Outpost, Outdoor cooking, Ropes course or Outdoor Survival skills. You might even get to venture into the wilderness with your bunk for at least one night during camp. Sleeping under the stars! Yes! So if you’re not a fan of creepy crawlies or the dark this one isn’t for you.

Girl Guides & Scouts

America is big on scout programs!

They even have camps just for Girl Guides and Scouts! Be prepared for enjoying the outdoors, natures at its best, hiking and chilling by the lake with your campers. So calling all Eagle scouts and Baden Powell’s, your hard work is about to pay off and give young scouts and guides the summer of their lives!

Management or leadership skills

Most leadership roles get given out in your second year but they do still look out for potential leaders who they think would hopefully come back more summers.

Returners are valuable to camps. They know what they are doing and can show the new staff the ropes. Roles include Bunk leaders to potential heads of staff. Plus, don’t forget there are also Colour war Leaders and that is the highest honour at camp! A privilege!

If you feel like you don’t have one of the skills above…don’t worry! More than anything, camps are looking for fun, outgoing, active people who will ensure their campers have the best summer ever. Head to our application page to get your begin your dream summer in America today.

Visit Natasha's blog for more great tips and tricks about summer camp and travel.

Camp Leaders
With over 20 years of J1 travel experience, the Camp Leaders team has the answers to almost anything you can think of. We're here to help you sort your ultimate J1 adventure - feel free to ask us anything.

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