Camp Counselor Program

Summer camps throughout the US hire international staff members to help fill their staff ranks and add an international flair to their summer programs. These camps vary in many ways including location, program offerings, facilities and dates of operation. However, there are similarities in all summer camps for the counseling staff. Following are some of those similarities:

Living Arrangements:
A typical arrangement has 8-12 campers living with 2-3 counselors. The bunk conditions will vary on location and will range from wilderness cabins to modern college dormitories, but all staff must understand that they will, in most cases, be physically in the same room as a group of campers during the summer (privacy is at a minimum).

Counselors will be expected to arrive at the designated camp approximately one week prior to the campers. There is an orientation program where counselors learn the daily schedules along with the camp policies and procedures. During this time counselors are placed in the age group and bunk unit where they will live during the summer. There is typically scheduled time when counselors are given training and practice in how to deal with camper conflicts, health issues, and other issues that may occur throughout the summer.

Roles and Responsibilities:
Summer camp counselors are responsible for ensuring camper overall well-being, keeping campers on schedule with activities, and leading camp activities.  A counselor’s work includes assisting with camper management in classrooms, in bunks, on the sports fields, and in the dining hall. Counselors may lead daily activities, like crafts, outdoor games, musical performances, and so forth, and may perform other responsibilities, especially at smaller summer camps.  Counselors supervise and manage campers at all times, except during scheduled breaks.  Counselors may participate in whole camp activities and special events such as talent shows, camp competitions, the camp band, and the end-of-the-year musical. A summer camp counselor may also accompany campers during out-of-camp events, including camping trips, hikes, theme parks, whitewater rafting, whale-watch cruises, and ball games. Themed camps, like fine arts camps, computer camps, sailing camps, specific sports camps, etc. hire multiple specialty counselors every summer. No matter what the venue, the summer camp counselor is primarily responsible for ensuring that the campers are safe, having fun, and engaged in interesting recreational and educational activities.

As you go through the application and interview process you will be able to speak with camp directors about their particular camp and your role as a counselor. Information about their expectation, salary, time off, etc. will be outlined for you so you can make an informed decision to accept or decline an offer.

Working with kids is one of the greatest experiences in the world that comes with tremendous rewards. Working at a summer camp gives counselors a sense of great satisfaction from helping children grow, but that comes only with a lot of hard work.

Employment Restrictions:
The visa program you apply for is dependent on your employment. Participants working as camp counselors even if specialized, participate in the camp counselor program while support staff positions such as office, maintenance, dining hall staff, driver, etc. are part of the summer work travel program. These are two distinct visas and as such your employment is not interchangeable. Although there are general support types of duties associated with the Camp Counselor position, once the visa is issued, participants may not work primarily as a kitchen staff or office staff. A support staff member cannot accept a change of employment to become a camp counselor.

ACES utilizes the CampStaffUSA site to help in connecting participants interested in the camp counselor program with pre-approved camp employers.