When we think about jobs at camps most of us think of counselor positions but in reality there are many other opportunities for summer work.
In addition to directly supervising children, staff members teach skills, organize activities, prepare food, address the physical health needs of campers, maintain facilities and coordinate administrative functions. Of course there are all sorts of camps focused on different populations and activities and roles will vary across this spectrum.
Types of Summer Camp Jobs
Counselors supervise groups of campers as they proceed through their daily activities and watch over campers in cabins or tents at overnight camps. They assist activity leaders in swimming, arts and crafts and other specialty areas as campers visit various stations. Counselors resolve problems and conflicts, monitor the emotional and physical state of campers and communicate with camp directors, parents and other staff about the status of their campers.
Counseling positions require experience working with children, communication skills, patience, problem solving skills, an energetic personality and an understanding of the needs of children. Counselors must be prepared to secure first aid/CPR certification.
For special activity camps it is helpful for counselors to possess experience with the focus activity such as drama, art, music, softball, technology etc.
These positions provide valuable experience for prospective teachers, counselors and social workers. Camps for children with special medical or psychological needs are also a useful training ground for future health care professionals.
Head Counselors, Unit Leaders or Senior Counselors supervise, train and mentor other counselors. They plan activities and help to coordinate schedules for groups of campers. Head Counselors evaluate programs and monitor the progress of counselors and campers.
Junior Counselors and Counselors in Training
Junior Counselors and Counselors in Training help counselors to supervise campers and participate in activities as a positive role model. These positions are often available to teens younger than the 17 or 18 year old minimum for full-fledged counselors.
Activity Instructors and Specialists
Activity Instructors and Specialists design programs, plan activities and teach techniques in a broad range of skill areas including horseback riding, archery, arts and crafts, drama, music, sports, gymnastics, boating, hiking, environmental education, rock climbing, windsurfing and so on.
These positions require experience in the individual specialty area, experience working with children and strong communication skills. Program planning and organizational skills are valued as is teaching experience.
Activity Assistants such as music, drama and art assistants support the efforts of specialists at some camps while counseling staff carry out this role at other camps.
Waterfront Directors oversee swimming and boating areas, ensure safety, hire, train and evaluate waterfront staff such as life guards and swim instructors.
These jobs require certification in life saving, swim instruction and CPR as well as previous experience in pool or waterfront environments.
Head Cooks and Food Service Managers
Head Cooks and Food Service Managers plan meals, order food, prepare meals and supervise other kitchen staff. They hire and evaluate staff and ensure that the camp adheres to health department regulations.
Assistant Cooks and Kitchen Assistants help prepare food and organize distribution of food before and during meals. They also discard or store leftovers and help clean kitchen apparatus and areas where food is served.
Kitchen staff members often have experience in food service operations. These jobs provide excellent grounding for those considering hospitality careers.
Maintenance Supervisors and Property Managers
Maintenance Supervisors and Property Managers oversee the maintenance of buildings and grounds at camps. Managers analyze and correct problems as they occur. They hire, train and supervise staff.
Maintenance workers or assistants make repairs and maintain buildings and grounds. These positions require little experience but employees must have a strong work ethic and be comfortable with physical labor. Mechanical abilities are valued.
Nurses / Health Career Managers
Nursing Staff and Healthcare Managers screen campers and organize critical medical information about campers. They train staff regarding protocols for intervening when campers are hurt or ill. Staff members also monitor sanitary conditions at the camp.
These positions require nursing certifications though occasionally healthcare assistant positions requiring less training may be available and are ideal for pre-med students.
Administrative Staff / Camp Directors
Administrative Staff and Camp Directors structure camp programs, hire, evaluate and supervise management staff and promote camp opportunities.
Office / Administrative Assistants
Office and Administrative Assistants support the professionals running the camp. They help organize files, update websites and answer questions from prospective patrons.
Office assistants must be well organized, detail oriented and have strong communication skills. Prior office experience and proficiency with desktop applications are valued in candidates for these positions.
Now that you are aware of the many different types of jobs available at camps, it's time to get busy and conduct an effective search for a position.
Follow some of the guidelines in my tips for finding summer jobs and you'll be well on your way to an exciting summer of camp work.
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