How would you like to go camping this summer, meet new people, find easy childcare for your kids, and make money at the same time?
This is all possible if you become a camp counselor.
According to the American Camping Association (ACA), summer camp enrollment is increasing by 10% every year. Many camps have been in operation for over 100 years; for example, the famed Camp Dudley has been around since 1885. Also, while many camp counselors work full-time, almost 30% are part-timers during the summer (or other seasonal) months.
If you’re worried about being stuck alone in the woods with a bunker full of screaming 4-year-olds, fear not. Camps are typically staffed with at least three counselors, two of whom are full-time counselors. Also, there are many camps that are intended for young adults, not youngsters. You can also choose to work at day-only or overnight camps.
How much money do camp counselors make?
The ACA reports that, on average, seasonal camp counselors earn the following:
- Camp counselor: $225-$250/week
- Head counselor: $300-$330/week
Who are camp counselors?
Many kids who go to summer camp eventually return to that camp as a counselor. Other counselors might be elementary education teachers-in-training, pastors, or Boy/Girl Scout leaders.
A good majority of camp counselors are under 30 years of age; many are college students looking to make some extra money and/or secure free room and board until the start of the school year. Other counselors have young children of their own attending the camp, and become counselors as a way to keep tabs on their kids while earning a paycheck.
So, if you got youngsters at home and are wondering what to do with them this summer, becoming a camp counselor could be one way to affordably send your kids to camp- and even enjoy camp with them.
What do camp counselors do?
Generally speaking, camp counselors plan and manage camp activities, maintain a regular daily schedule, answer questions and resolve issues, ensure personal and group safety, and perform select administrative duties (e.g., distributing mail).
On a more detailed level, a camp counselor’s day may involve the following chain of events:
8am: Wake up all campers and ensure all campers have breakfast.
10 am: Coordinate a trail hike/group swim.
12 pm: Ensure all campers have lunch.
1 pm: Manage an arts and crafts/sewing/carving/music session.
3 pm: Attend staff meeting to plan upcoming event.
4 pm: Organize and manage camp archery competition.
5 pm: Fill out daytime camp log and punch out.
If you are trained in a particular activity or proficient in a hobby- for example, astronomy- you will probably be called upon to organize and lead a night of stargazing. Alternately, you might wish to organize a night of stargazing that is based on your personal talent for locating certain constellations.
What kinds of summer camps are there?
You might choose to work in summer camps that are organized around a given theme. To this end, you might try out the following camps:
Academic: These camps accept honors and gifted students for outdoor fun as well as rigorous scholastic studies. To qualify, you should have subject matter expertise in at least one school subject, such as math, robotics, biology, etc.
Themed: There are camps organized around activities such as running, yoga, sewing, music, etc. To be considered for a themed camp, you’ll need to be proficient in its main activity.
Scout: It goes without saying that the Girl and Boy Scouts have camps. But if you’re a Scout member, you already know that fact.
Special needs: Children with physical and/or mental disabilities require extra staff and activity considerations and may be a good fit for you if you have additional certifications to work with special needs children.
Where can you find summer camp counselor jobs?
The ACA lists many summer and seasonal camps nationwide on its Find A Camp database. This is a great place to start if you want to select a certain type of camp (e.g., daytime only). Once you have selected your preferred camps, make some calls and find out from the staff if there are seasonal counselor openings.
Here are some other online resources:
Camp Channel: Here’s you’ll find a job board that lists all kinds of positions available at camps across the country, from sports coaches to swim instructors to camp nurses.
Camp Page: Summer camp jobs are listed by American state and Canadian provinces here, along with in-depth job descriptions and salaries.
CoolWorks: You can browse various job openings here throughout the country. The site also provides you with detailed information about employers and their application process.
Glassdoor: Here you are presented with a plethora of summer camp information, including hourly/seasonal pay, employee reviews, and current job openings.
Summer Job Finder: This site advertises multiple summer job opportunities, including those in camp counseling.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to make extra cash this summer and “park” your youngsters in a safe place, summer counselor positions enable you to do that. You’ll apply your skills, meet new faces, and collect a stipend. Do a good job, and you’ll most likely be invited the following summer at a minimum 4% raise.