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What does a Camp Counselor do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A camp counselor leads children or adolescents in daily activities prescribed by the nature or theme of the camp. She is the person the campers typically rely upon for guidance, and they normally trust her to ensure their safety and well-being. Since camp generally includes a myriad of scheduled events and activities, the camp counselor is generally relied upon to keep her campers on time and prepared for participation. She may work at a day camp or a camp where the campers live in cabins or tents for days or weeks at a time.

In a general camp environment, one that has no particular theme or educational focus, a camp counselor’s job is often different each day. One day may be devoted to learning how to play musical instruments and the next may concentrate on learning arts and crafts. The following day may then be filled with water activities, such as swimming or canoeing. To be a camp counselor at this type of camp requires highly-developed leadership skills in a wide range of activities.

Camps often have a theme or concentrate on a specific hobby or interest. These camps commonly include themes that emphasize developing skills in certain sports such as tennis or baseball or generally focus on fitness. Some camps are devoted to education in fields such as computer science or music or have a religious theme. Counselors at specialized camps are normally required to have expertise in the fields in which they are leading their campers.

Regardless of the camp’s focus, a camp counselor is usually counted on to represent personal attributes and characteristics generally perceived as positive and constructive. These traits traditionally include honesty, fairness, discipline and compassion. Leading by example is a typical expectation of a camp counselor.

Besides being a mentor and guide, a camp counselor’s job frequently entails providing basic first aid, maintaining the grounds and cabins, and answering diverse questions from campers. Since her campers are normally young and unpredictable, a camp counselor is ordinarily trained to expect the unexpected. She is traditionally required to be able to provide responses appropriate to the ages and comprehension levels of the campers.

For general camps that have no educational-, religious-, hobby- or sports-related angle, a camp counselor is usually required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. If the camp concentrates on a specific subject or area of learning, the counselor is regularly required to have related education, training or a combination of the two to qualify for the position. Some sponsoring organizations provide counselor training prior to the beginning of camp.

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Discussion Comments

By Crispety — On May 21, 2011

@Sunshine31 - I agree with you. I wonder if a parent is hired as a sports camp counselor and they have their children attend the camp, do they get a discount on the camp tuition?

I know that most private schools do offer a substantial tuition but I wonder how it works for camps.

Based on what I know about the camp counselor job description it does seem like I job that I could do. I just wondered if anyone had any feedback on this and on how I could put together a camp counselor resume that would really help me get hired.

By sunshine31 — On May 18, 2011

@Bhutan - That sounds like fun. I know that they also train teenagers for junior camp counselor positions. I think that this is great because it allows the teenager an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and mentor young kids at the same time.

It also helps the camp counselor manage the group of children that they are responsible for. A summer camp counselor is really an important job because many kids remember their memories of summer camp with such fondness and they know that the camp counselor really worked to make the experience memorable for them.

By Bhutan — On May 18, 2011

I wanted to add that I had a friend that was a teacher during the regular school year and then became a summer camp counselor in the summer. She liked it so much that she and another teacher developed a summer immersion camp for Spanish.

They were both Spanish teachers and thought that this would be a great way to continue teaching and having fun at the same time. My kids went to the camp one year and they really enjoyed it. They performed a show at the end of the camp session in Spanish and it was really cute.

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