While you will be expected to demonstrate your ability in the skills you list in your application, you’ll spend your first week of camp getting trained on all other aspects of your Camp Counselor job role. This is often called orientation and will cover things like child protection, crisis management and team-building exercises, offering you the opportunity to make strong connections with your co-counselors before the campers arrive.
If you’re working at a more specialist camp, such as a special needs camp or faith-based camp then the extra relevant training will be provided. As part of your orientation you should expect to get down and dirty in getting camp prepped for the summer. This will include things like cabin clean up, painting fences and clearing out basements. It’s a small part of what you do, but it’s important that camp is ready for camper check in day.
Orientation week will also give you a chance to get used to your area of responsibility, whether that’s setting up poolside, organising the sports equipment or safety checking the ropes course. This is your time to get prepped for your summer adventure ahead.
Camp Staff Structure
Staffing structures at camp are often difficult to explain because the terms used or different from camp to camp. A Lead Specialist, Program Director and Head Counselor could all essentially be the same thing, just called different things between camps.
However, generally there will be a large group of cabin or bunk counselors who make up the majority of the staff and activity specialists who lead the activities from day to day. There will then likely be a leadership team who support the cabin and activity staff, who are in turn supported by the Camp Director.
There will also likely many returners at camp along with specialist supporting staff like nurses, chefs and maintenance teams. The key thing is that once you arrive at camp you’ll be fully briefed on the structure and you’ll have a clear understanding on who your direct line of support is.
Camp is incredibly hard work. It’s enormously fun, but certainly one of the hardest jobs you’ll have. You never really ‘clock off’ during camper sessions. you’ll have time off to yourself - usually a break in the afternoon and evening - but should your assistance be required, you’ll be expected to help out whether it’s your break or not.
You’ll be most likely sleeping in the same cabins as the kids which means that if they wake up, then you wake up too. Usually it’s nothing more than campers waking up because they heard a noise and got scared, but either way, it’s your job to help them back to sleep, before heading back to bed yourself. Of course, if you ever feel like you’re ready to burn out, you’ll be supported by your directors and co-counselors, but if you’re looking for an easy ride, this ain’t the one for you.
While you won't get tonnes of time off during life at camp, you have up to 30 days of travel time after camp as part of your J1 visa. Whether you want to explore America on your own or on one of our many discounted group road trips, the USA is all yours for the taking, from LA to NYC and everywhere in between.
Advantages of working as a Camp Counselor
CV Enhancement: By working at camp, you’ll gain over 800 hours of hands on experience working with children in an international setting. Any employer is impressed with the Camp Leaders program and you’ll have an amazing experience in your back pocket to make you stand out when hunting for jobs.
Friends from around the world: Camp Leaders sends participants from 18 countries around the world, offering you the chance to make incredible friendships with people from far flung places like New Zealand, Germany and Venezuela. We’ve no doubt you’ll develop a passion for travel if you haven’t already and having a couch or two to sleep on during your next round the world trip really comes in handy.
The best summer of your life: It really is that simple. Camp Leaders offers you the chance to have an experience that you’ll never get anywhere else. Your adventure will stay with you for the rest of your life and you’ll never forget your legendary summer in America.
Summer camp in America is one of the most accessible ways to work and travel abroad. However, there are some criteria which you need to meet in order to fulfill the Camp Counselor job. To head to camp this summer you must;
Be over the age of 18 by the time you attend camp
Have a clean criminal background
Be available over the summer - between June 18th and August 31st at least