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Become A Camp Counselor

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Working As A Camp Counselor

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $27,597

    Average Salary

What Does A Camp Counselor Do

Recreation workers design and lead recreational and leisure activities for groups in volunteer agencies or recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, parks, camps, aquatic centers, and senior centers. They may lead activities such as arts and crafts, dance, sports, adventure programs, music, and camping.

Duties

Recreation workers typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and lead activities for groups or recreation centers
  • Explain the rules of activities and instruct participants at a variety of skill levels
  • Enforce safety rules to prevent injury
  • Modify activities to suit the needs of specific groups, such as seniors
  • Administer basic first aid if needed
  • Organize and set up the equipment that is used in recreational activities

The specific responsibilities of recreation workers vary greatly with their job title, their level of training, and the state they work in. The following are examples of types of recreation workers:

Activity specialists provide instruction and coaching primarily in one activity, such as dance, swimming, or tennis. These workers may work in camps, aquatic centers, or anywhere else where there is interest in a single activity.

Recreation leaders are responsible for a recreation program’s daily operation. They primarily organize and direct participants, schedule the use of facilities, set up and keep records of equipment use, and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used and maintained properly. They may lead classes and provide instruction in a recreational activity, such as kayaking or golf.

Camp counselors work directly with youths in residential (overnight) or day camps. They often lead and instruct children and teenagers in a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, or nature study. Counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and socialization. Some counselors may specialize in a specific activity, such as archery, boating, music, drama, or gymnastics.

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How To Become A Camp Counselor

Education and training requirements for recreation workers vary with the type of job, but workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent and receive on-the-job training.

Education and Training

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many receive on-the-job training that typically lasts less than a month.

Entry-level educational requirements vary with the type of position. For example, an activity leader position working with the elderly will have different requirements than a position as a summer camp counselor working with children.

Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree or college coursework. In 2014, the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions, a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), accredited 80 bachelor’s degree programs in recreation or leisure studies. A bachelor’s degree in other subjects, such as liberal arts or public administration, may also qualify applicants for some positions.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Recreation workers must be able to communicate well. They often work with large groups of people and need to give clear instructions, motivate participants, and maintain order and safety.

Flexibility. Recreation workers must be flexible when planning activities. They must be able to adapt plans to suit changing environmental conditions and participants’ needs.

Leadership skills. Recreation workers should be able to lead both large and small groups. They often lead activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Physical strength. Recreation workers need to be physically fit. Their job may require a considerable amount of movement because they often demonstrate activities while explaining them.

Problem-solving skills. Recreation workers need strong problem-solving skills. They must be able to create and reinvent activities and programs for all types of participants.

For recreation workers who generally work part time, such as camp counselors and activity specialists, certain qualities may be more important than education. These qualities include a worker’s experience leading activities, the ability to work well with children or the elderly, and the ability to ensure the safety of participants.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The NRPA offers four certifications for recreation workers:

  • Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP)
  • Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE)
  • Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO)
  • Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI)

Applicants may qualify for certification with different combinations of education and work experience. They also must take continuing education classes to maintain their certification.

The American Camp Association offers four certificates for various levels of camp staff, from Entry-Level Staff Certificate to Camp Director Certificate. Individuals who complete online courses may show their advanced level of knowledge of core competencies.

Some recreation jobs require other kinds of certification. For example, a lifesaving certificate is often required for teaching or coaching water-related activities. These certifications are available from organizations such as the YMCA or the American Red Cross. Specific requirements vary by job and employer.

Advancement

As workers gain experience, they may be promoted to positions with greater responsibilities. Recreation workers with experience and managerial skills may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Eventually, they may become directors of a recreation department or may start their own recreation company.

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Camp Counselor Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Lead Counselor 2.4 years
Head Counselor 2.0 years
Teen Counselor 1.7 years
Day Camp Counselor 1.4 years
Camp Councilor 1.3 years
Trained Counselor 1.3 years
Camp Leader 1.2 years
Camp Assistant 1.2 years
Summer Counselor 1.1 years
Junior Counselor 1.1 years
Camp Counselor 1.0 years
Cabin Counselor 0.9 years
Top Careers Before Camp Counselor
Internship 14.7%
Volunteer 13.6%
Cashier 11.6%
Server 4.1%
Tutor 3.5%
Teacher 3.2%
Assistant 3.1%
Hostess 2.9%
Waitress 2.6%
Counselor 2.6%
Captain 2.2%
Nanny 2.1%
Top Careers After Camp Counselor
Internship 17.1%
Cashier 9.1%
Volunteer 8.7%
Server 5.1%
Teacher 4.9%
Tutor 3.2%
Nanny 2.9%
Assistant 2.7%
Hostess 2.6%
Waitress 2.4%

Do you work as a Camp Counselor?

Camp Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

58.9%

Male

39.2%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

64.1%

Hispanic or Latino

13.7%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.8%

French

14.1%

Italian

4.2%

German

4.0%

Chinese

2.8%

Russian

2.5%

Mandarin

2.4%

Arabic

2.3%

Portuguese

1.8%

Japanese

1.6%

Hebrew

1.3%

Greek

1.1%

Korean

0.9%

Hindi

0.8%

Cantonese

0.6%

Polish

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.4%

Hmong

0.4%

Swahili

0.3%

Swedish

0.3%
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Camp Counselor Education

Schools

Liberty University

9.3%

Florida State University

6.7%

Temple University

6.2%

Pennsylvania State University

5.6%

Towson University

5.4%

Appalachian State University

5.2%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

5.2%

Illinois State University

4.9%

James Madison University

4.9%

University of Delaware

4.8%

University of Connecticut

4.7%

Michigan State University

4.6%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.6%

University of Alabama

4.2%

University of Rhode Island

4.2%

West Virginia University

4.0%

University of Vermont

4.0%

Southern Connecticut State University

3.9%

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

University of Central Florida

3.8%
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Majors

Psychology

14.8%

Business

11.6%

Kinesiology

7.4%

Communication

7.1%

Criminal Justice

6.0%

Biology

5.2%

Social Work

4.8%

Elementary Education

4.8%

Education

4.3%

Sociology

4.0%

English

3.9%

Nursing

3.5%

Political Science

3.3%

Marketing

3.2%

Early Childhood Education

3.0%

Liberal Arts

2.9%

History

2.7%

Human Development

2.7%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.5%

Special Education

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

58.3%

Other

22.2%

Masters

11.8%

Associate

4.9%

Certificate

1.6%

Doctorate

0.7%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.1%
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Camp Counselor Videos

Camp Counselor Essentials

How to Be a Cool Camp Counselor

What Girl Camp Counselors Say

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Real Camp Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer Mystic, CT Feb 15, 2016 $53,845
Camp Counselor Global Indoor Sports LLC TX Nov 15, 2015 $50,025
Camp Counselor Global Indoor Sports LLC Kingston, MA Nov 30, 2015 $48,794
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer McMurray, PA Apr 15, 2016 $48,001
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer CT Jan 15, 2015 $48,001
Camp Counselor Global Indoor Sports LLC Port Chester, NY Nov 15, 2015 $46,937
Camp Counselor Global Indoor Sports LLC NJ Nov 15, 2015 $46,937
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer Bridgeview, IL Feb 15, 2016 $45,914
Camp Counselor Global Indoor Sports LLC Broomall, PA Nov 15, 2015 $38,756
Soccer Camp Counselor/Soccer Coach Youth Elite Soccer IL Jan 15, 2015 $37,566
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer CT Jan 15, 2013 $37,566
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer IL Mar 19, 2013 $37,566
Soccer Camp Counselor/Coach Youth Elite Soccer IL Jan 31, 2014 $37,566
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. MA Mar 01, 2015 $31,931
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. NY Apr 01, 2015 $30,616
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. NJ Mar 15, 2015 $30,616
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. CT Apr 01, 2014 $30,470
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. WA Mar 01, 2015 $30,345
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. MD Mar 01, 2015 $30,053
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. CT Apr 01, 2015 $28,321
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. PA Apr 01, 2015 $27,903
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. PA Mar 15, 2015 $27,903
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. NJ Apr 01, 2015 $27,319
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. NJ Mar 15, 2015 $27,319
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. TX Feb 15, 2014 $25,858
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. TX Feb 15, 2015 $25,524
Camp Counselors U.K. Elite Soccer, Inc. NJ Mar 15, 2014 $20,432

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Top Skills for A Camp Counselor

  1. Daily Activities
  2. Summer Camps
  3. Fellow Counselors
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participate and encourage positive participation of all students in daily activities and events.
  • Acted as Environmental Education resource for summer camps, providing curricula and facilitating instruction.
  • Collaborate with fellow counselors and senior staff to encourage positive behavior among campers.
  • Maintain a safe environment for children while building positive relationships and encouraging participation in camp activities.
  • Supervised campers in dormitory, throughout daily activities, and co-facilitated group discussions.

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Top 10 Best States for Camp Counselors

  1. Washington
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Alaska
  4. South Dakota
  5. New York
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Minnesota
  8. Massachusetts
  9. California
  10. Maine
  • (126 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (195 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (157 jobs)
  • (643 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)

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Camp Counselor Videos

Camp Counselor Essentials

How to Be a Cool Camp Counselor

What Girl Camp Counselors Say

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