If you love working with kids, have a confident attitude and love of the outdoors, crafts and games; being a summer day camp counselor could be the perfect job for you. Flexibility is really a big plus in this sort of job, as you won’t ever know what your 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’ll need 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 together with the kids at day camp. You’ll need plenty of patience, creativity, leadership skills and above all, a feeling of humor.
This is vitally important as camps often begin looking for staff in the winter months. If you’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 ask you to make a YouTube video to accompany your application.
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 searching for summer camp staff. You might know other people who work there and be able to use these connections.
There are a variety of websites listing summer camp jobs including Camp Channel, Camp Depot and Camp Page. Cool Works, a summer job site, also offers some interesting opportunities.
Are There Educational Requirements?
While there are not specific educational requirements for summer camp counselors, it helps to possess CPR and MEDICAL certification and it may even give you an edge over other applicants.
Be Creative with Previous Experience
OK, perhaps you haven’t been a camp counselor, but perhaps you have been a camper. On your own application, emphasize your summer camp experiences and how you intend to carry the fun forward by learning to be a counselor yourself. If you’ve spent a summer or two at a camp as a counselor-in-training, you have actual on-the-job experience coping 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 would give you a leg up in the hiring process as you know the camp culture, traditions and songs, and on top of that; you’ve got a real and infectious love of the camp itself.
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 though you’ve never set foot in a summer camp, your personal characteristics may position you nicely for employment. Approachability, empathy, leadership ability, creativity and enthusiasm are traits that directors are looking for in their staff… and a little goofiness doesn’t hurt! If you’re responsible, caring and also have the capability to put others before yourself, you’ll be a good candidate.
Do You Have a particular Talent?
If you have a specific talent or specialization that ties in with the camp’s programs, make sure you highlight this on your own resume. Camps that emphasize the arts, for example, 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 fact 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.