If you love working with kids, have a positive attitude and love of the outside, crafts and games; being a summer day camp counselor may be the perfect job for you personally. 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 very best game. Here are some tips for obtaining the summer job of one’s dreams.
What Do Camp Counselors Do?
Typically, counselors are hired to do something as recreational leaders supervising overall camp operations or teaching various special activities. Swimming, archery, horse riding, crafts and nature education are simply a few 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 start 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 request you to create 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 and other youth organizations to see if they are searching for summer camp staff. You may know others who work there and also 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 has some interesting opportunities.
Are There Educational Requirements?
While there are not specific educational requirements for summer camp counselors, it can help to have CPR and First Aid certification and it may even give you an advantage 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 application, emphasize your summer camp experience s and how you would like to carry the fun forward by becoming 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 a counselor role.
Use Your Camp Connections
Many counselors were once campers at the same camp to which they’re applying. Naturally, this would provide you with a leg up in the hiring process as you already know the camp culture, traditions and songs, and on top of that; you have a real and infectious love of the camp itself.
Get Experience Working With Kids
Though you may not have specifically worked at a summer camp, you can accumulate other experience dealing 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 a job. Approachability, empathy, leadership ability, creativity and enthusiasm are traits that directors are seeking within their staff… and a little goofiness doesn’t hurt! If you are responsible, caring and also have the ability to put others before yourself, you’ll be a good candidate.
Do You Have a particular Talent?
If you have a particular talent or area of expertise that fits in with the camp’s programs, make sure you highlight this on your resume. Camps that emphasize the arts, for instance, may be thrilled with your expertise on the violin or experience with musical theater production, while wilderness camps may zone right in on the truth that you spend years in Boy Scouts or spent summers camping with your family. Any certifications in camp-related areas are also important.
So, get focusing on that resume! Be sure you emphasize the positive, list all related experience volunteer or paid and put your enthusiasm and love of kids’ front and center.