Camp Counselor Job Description
The fun outdoor activities that children at summer and day camps participate in are typically developed and supervised by Camp Counselors. These counselors are responsible for all children attending a camp and, in addition to arranging day and evening activities, will ensure the safety of these children by running drills and explaining safety and emergency rules and plans. Camp Counselors also organize trips and create daily activity schedules.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on Camp Counselors under the general heading of recreation workers. According to the BLS, the expected job growth rate for these types of workers is 10 percent over the 2014-2024 time period. Ongoing campaigns to encourage physical activity in children is thought to be a main factor in this projected job growth, as enrollment in camps that focus on these types of activities should increase.
Camp Counselor Duties and Responsibilities
Camp Counselors must perform various tasks to make sure that the daily operations of a camp run smoothly and that all children are having fun. We have reviewed several job listings and found the following among the core Camp Counselor duties and responsibilities.
Create and Supervise Camp Activities
Setting up the daily activities for children, typically aged 3-12, in camp settings is the main responsibility of a Camp Counselor. Camp Counselors place children in groups and design daily schedules of activities, such as swimming, hiking, kayaking and camping. These counselors ensure that activities are age-appropriate for each group and that each child is adequately challenged and enjoying the activity. Camp Counselors also supervise the children during these activities and instruct them on how to engage in each activity.
Ensure Safety of Camp Attendees
The safety of children attending camps is also a main duty of a Camp Counselor. Teaching children about emergency plans, emphasizing safety during activity participation and going over such things as fire drills are all conducted by a Camp Counselor. Counselors typically sleep in tents or cabins with children each night for to carry out supervisory and safety duties.
Communicate with Peers and Parents
Camp Counselors work closely with assistants, teachers and camp directors to ensure that all policies and procedures are adhered to and to report any inappropriate behaviors from children or camp personnel. Camp Counselors also communicate with parents, if needed, to report any problems or to simply keep them updated about their child’s daily progress and participation.
Camp Counselor Skills
Strong communication skills, both with children and adults, are essential for those seeking to become Camp Counselors. They should be physically fit in order to participate in camp activities and should enjoy working outdoors. Camp Counselors should have organizational and decision-making skills and have the ability to work both independently and in teams. Besides these general skills, many employers might look for potential Camp Counselor candidates to possess the following skills.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Camp Counselors with these core skills. If you want to work as a Camp Counselor, focus on the following.
- Organizing various camp activities
- Possessing skills such as rock climbing, hiking and swimming
- Communicating with children from toddlers to teenagers
- Coordinating activities into a daily schedule
- Understanding physical safety rules and camp policies
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Camp Counselor toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Knowledge of maintenance needs for camp equipment
- Project enthusiasm when working with children
- Strive to be a role model for young campers
- Certification in CPR and basic lifesaving skills
Camp Counselor Resources
It is helpful to consult additional resources when considering a career as a Camp Counselor. Below, we have provided links to several online and print resources that present more details about working as a Camp Counselor.
On the Web
Counselor’s Corner – A blog presenting stories about life as a Camp Counselor, told from those working in the profession.
Ultimatecampresource – A helpful site for Camp Counselors providing tips and suggestions for camp activities such as songs and skits.
Camp Hacker Blog – Aimed at camp directors and Camp Counselors, this blog offers tips and strategies for promoting programs, how to work with parents and more.
American Camp Association – Camp Counselors and other camp professionals can find information about conferences and online and live professional development opportunities through this organization, formerly called the American Camping Association.
American School Counselor Association (ASCA) – Camp Counselors can find it helpful to research professional development opportunities and educational webinars covering how to work with children to help them with social and emotional development.
Camp Counseling: Leadership and Programming for the Organized Camp – This eighth edition provides details about building successful youth development programs, strategies for designing physical activities and applying leadership skills in camp environments, in addition to covering camp trends and practices.
The Christian Camp Leader – Told from a Christian perspective but applicable to all types of Camp Counselors, this books addresses such topics as champ leadership challenges and how to develop relationships with children.
How to Be a Great Camp Counselor – Using real-life stories and imagined scenarios to depict the fun and challenges of being a Camp Counselor, this book is aimed at young counselors just starting in the profession.
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