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Being a camp counselor in the USA


hodgeheg

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I'm looking into being a camp counselor in the US of A next summer. The only thing is that I am English and I have very little idea what a summer camp is like. I get the impression, from films, that it's very cheesy and in your face, but I know (well I'm hoping) that this stereotyping is somewhat incorrect.

 

Is there anyone here with any experience of American summer camps who could describe them for me? Any ex-counselors experiences would be particularly helpful

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Hi hodgeheg, I've worked as a camp counselor at a few day camps. They were all pretty similar. The kids were divided into different age groups and we rotated groups every week or so. We had arts and crafts, sports (swimming, tennis, softball, basketball), creative writing, and other group activities. We had "morning circle" type of things that were somewhat cheesy with singing and dancing but not much else. Basically you just need to enjoy working with kids and organizing activities. Working at overnight camp might be more like the movies but I'm not sure.

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It depends on what kind of camp you are going for. Working at a summer camp as a counselor in most places in the US is not good money. An average camp organization pays the counselors near $7 - $10 an hour. The higher paying camps require some qualification skills (coaching, rock climbing, dancing, horseback riding, art, film/drama, CPR/first aid, etc) and a lot of experience of working with kids.

 

I worked in a career-oriented camp because they offered me more money than most US camps I came accross and free room and board. I recommend shooting for those types of camps if you are trying to build your resume because they look awesome. We were an overnight camp that stayed in upper-class hotels within the city instead of back-wood cabins (omg no mosquitoes!!! so that part made it great! However, it was exhausting because I was getting 5-6 hours of sleep a day when working with 1,000 students and sometimes I had to walk in 90-100 degree humidity in business attire (last year I was walking around the city in 105 degree heat while wearing a business suit and blistered feet in flat heeled shoes). It still was a rewarding experience when I showed students the area and got through the camp program. The kids REALLY made the experience enjoyable for me, especially since I have excellent management skills. I got to travel a lot with my group to various business sites; some were places I never been to. The counselors who lived out of state flew in the area... on their own expense. The company does not pay to relocate camp counselors because let's face it... airfare is expensive to cover! A lot of US camps will be concerned how you will get to work in the US.

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Thank you for your replies!

 

Badcat: I know you have to be happy and smiley (I'm training to become a school teacher) I'm just a little afraid of it being really cheesy!

 

Snny: I'm not really doing it for the money, more for the experience. And I obviously realise it may cost me quite a bit! I'm sorry but what do you mean by a career-orientated camp? As a trainee teacher the experience any employers would like is just that I've spent the time working with children in a different environment. I've found a company that are recommended here in the UK and organise counselors, looking into them in the next few days.

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I also had two friends who have done that, one in the US and the other in Canada. They absolutely loved it and thought it was really fun, one of the best experiences of their lives. They're both really outgoing and love meeting new people so I think that's probably why they enjoyed it so much.

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I'm not really sure where exactly I'd want to be. I think a more outdoor/rural camp might suit me better.

 

Badcat: I've read on the company website that you are either an activity counselor or a general counselor, which one were you? I have average - good skills in several areas and would be confident in most but no specific specialism and I'm wondering if that would hinder my chances of being accepted?

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hodgeheg, the qualifications will vary by camp. I have played tennis since age 10 (played varsity in junior high and high school), but I wasn't qualified to instruct tennis. They had "tennis pros" teaching the students while I supervised and tended to the children who didn't participate. I also have average to good skills in several areas and I was a general counselor. There are hundreds of camps in my city alone so I'm fairly certain you will be accepted somewhere. You should start contacting some camp directors to get more answers. Good luck!

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I worked as a counselor one summer at a Boy Scout camp in SoCal. Taught a couple merit badges, had a good time. Kids are kids wherever you go, so that's not an issue. Just depends on what part of the country you want to work in. There's no shortage of camps throughout the country, the vast majority of counties will likely have one at least within a certain radius.

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