Looking for an exciting way to spend your summer? Becoming a camp counselor is a great fit for anyone looking to spend their summer having fun and building valuable skills and work experience. At AmeriCamp, we work with some of the best summer camps in the USA.
Becoming a camp counselor can be broken down into four easy steps:
- Applying for the program
- Submitting all your required documents
- Being paired with a camp
- Preparing for your adventure abroad
We’ll cover these steps to becoming a camp counselor, and how AmeriCamp can make the application process as stress-free as possible, so that you can focus on enjoying your summer of adventure.
Benefits of Becoming a Camp Counselor
Why choose to become a camp counselor?
Working as a summer camp counselor allows you to build work experience and travel the United States, while earning $2,000 minimum each summer.This is also a great opportunity to:
- Connect with nature
- Explore new experiences in the US
- Make new friends
- Boost your communication skills
- Add more experience to your CV/resume
- Develop time management skills
- Grow your relationship-building skills
- Become a role model
Camp Counselor Skills Benefit You Even After Camp is Over
As you become a camp counselor, you’ll learn how to think more creatively, and to build better problem solving skills. Working as a camp counselor is like a crash course in leadership, and you’ll learn things like time management, creative thinking, and team building along the way.
Some other skills you may pick up by working as a camp counselor are:
- Critical thinking
You can use your skills learned as a counselor to build a great work ethic, even after your summer at camp ends!
Learn, Teach, and Enjoy Fun Activities as a Camp Counselor
As a counselor, you’ll have the chance to learn, teach, and assist your campers with all sorts of fun activities. Some examples might include:
- Team sports - soccer, volleyball, and relay races.
- Outdoor activities - climbing, archery, and scavenger hunts.
- Wellness - yoga, meditation, and martial arts.
- Arts & crafts - drawing, tie-dye, and jewelry making.
- Water sports - swimming, fishing, and canoeing.
While your activity availability will depend on the type of camp you’re placed with, each camp has a variety of exciting activities to fill both you and your campers’ summer full of fun.
How to Apply to Your Camp Counselor Program
To work in the United States as a camp counselor, you’ll need to get a J-1 visa, submit your required paperwork, and attend an interview.
Your application normally takes around 60 minutes to complete, and when working with AmeriCamp, applicants receive guidance through the entire process.
Your J-1 Camp Counselor Visa
The J-1 visa, also known as The Visitor Exchange Program, provides foreign nationals with the opportunity to join educational and cultural programs in the United States. The program has many categories including the camp counselor program.
To qualify for the J-1 visa camp counselor program, you must be:
- 18 before June 1st of your intended program year.
- Proficient in spoken English.
- Able to pass a local background check.
- Free of criminal history.
- Available from early June to mid August
At AmeriCamp, we know how complicated the visa application process can feel.We’ve helped thousands of campers get their paperwork ready to work at the best summer camps in the US. We will guide you through the entire J-1 visa process, so you can focus on preparing for your trip of a lifetime.
Required Documents You Need to Become a Camp Counselor
Along with obtaining a J-1 visa, you’ll need to:
- Submit a local background check
- Provide your medical history
- Share references
- Share certificates relevant to the camp and trip (i.e. CPR certification)
While it’s not required, experience with working with children and specialized skills like team sports and outdoors,can help make you the ideal international camp applicant. Be sure to mention these on your application if they apply to you!
Your Camp Counselor Interview
When applying to become a camp counselor, you’ll be interviewed by AmeriCamp staff. Once your application process is completed, and your camp applications are distributed by AmeriCamp, it’s likely that you’ll be contacted for an interview by your potential camp’s director.
At your interview, you’ll be asked a number of questions. Not to worry; AmeriCamp will be there to support you through your entire camp counselor journey, including preparing for your interview. Some interview question topics might include:
- Examples of leadership
- What you think qualifies you to be a camp counselor
- Related problems you’ve solved in the past
- How you’d handle certain situations as a counselor
Take a look at our summer camp counselor job description for more examples.
Matching With Your Summer Camp
Once your application is completed and distributed to AmeriCamps’ affiliated summer camps, your placement process begins. Our specially trained placement-coordinators and camp directors search through applications to pair counselors with camps for the best possible fit.
As a result, many camp counselors with AmeriCamp fall in love with their camps, and often return to work with them again. To find the perfect fit, we encourage our counselors to keep an open mind when it comes to camp placement possibilities.
Once your camp counseling program is over, counselors have a 30-day grace period, which can be used to travel anywhere in the U.S. Where you’re placed doesn’t affect your ability to travel on your summer adventure!
Preparing For Your Camp Counseling Adventure
Once your camp placement has been decided, it’s time to prepare for your exciting summer! While getting ready for your trip to a new country can feel overwhelming at first, it doesn’t have to be. AmeriCamp will provide you with an experienced team who will assist you with things like:
- Travel planning: we’ll send you quotes and help book your flight to get you the best rate!
- Access to medical support: as part of your program, you’ll have 90 days of medical insurance to cover your counseling time, and your time off.
- Emergencies: Counselors have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline.
What to Expect When You Become a Camp Counselor
Preparation doesn’t just stop at your application, getting ready for your interview and travel plans. Understanding your program fees, learning more about your camp placement, and what will be expected of you as a counselor are part of your journey, too.
Program Costs and Fees
Your program fees cover the following major components:
- Your application
- DS-2019 form
- Interview fee
- Health insurance
AmeriCamp partner representatives will determine your actual fees. Your fees also change by country, market, exchange rate and the level of service your AmeriCamp team provides. Some partner representatives offer different levels of assistance, like job interview skills, job training, and English classes if necessary.
As your sponsor, AmeriCamp also covers your accommodation and meals for the duration of your camp placement. Your program costs and fees do not cover:
- US Embassy fee for J-1 visa processing
- Medical background check
- Criminal background check
Different Types of Summer Camps
There are different types of summer camps in the United States, and they normally offer a variety of fun activities for campers and counselors alike. They can be located in both urban or rural locations. Some of the more common types of summer camps are:
- Day Camps: Summer camps only open during daytime hours, with no overnight stays.
- Themed Camps: Camps that specialize in a specific activity or sport.
- Private Camps: Camps that are privately owned and run by individuals or families.
- Religious Camps: Camps that are focused on a specific religion or religious philosophy.
- Special Needs Camps: Camps that are dedicated specifically to children and adults with disabilities.
- Non-Profit Camps: Camps that are owned and run by non-profit organizations.
Each summer camp is different, and their amenities and activities that they offer vary with things like camp type and location. Camps located near a body of water might offer watersports or swimming activities, while a camp in the city might focus on activities like arts & crafts or computers.
General Camp Counselor Roles and Responsibilities
Normal responsibilities for a camp counselor vary for different camps, but general duties may include things like:
- Preparations for the day
- Taking care of food and mealtimes
- Planning and organizing camp activities
- Organizing downtime
Camp counselors may also be expected to help out with things like camp programming, outdoor activities, setting up equipment, and knowing and enforcing safety and emergency protocols. Some counselors may even be assigned administrative tasks like filing or record keeping.
Specialized Camp Counselor Roles
A specialist counselor is a counselor in charge of one activity for an entire camp. While activities will differ from camp to camp, some specialized roles might include leading activities like these:
- Art activities.
- Outdoor adventures.
- Horseback riding.
- Target practice.
- Performing arts.
What a Normal Day Might Look Like As a Camp Counselor
Summer camps normally operate on a set schedule in order to pack as many activities as possible into each day. A typical routine as a camp counselor might look like this:
- Counselors wake up before campers to prepare for their day.
- The start of the day is normally occupied by breakfast and organizing.
- Once breakfast is over, campers set out for their morning activities.
- Morning activities can include more active sports or games before the hottest part of the day sets in.
- Campers gather for lunch to refuel.
- Sometimes the afternoon might include free time to give your campers a break, and to allow counselors to prepare for the rest of the day.
- As the hottest part of the day sets in, afternoon activities might include things like swimming to help your campers stay cool.
- Once afternoon activities are over, campers gather for dinner.
- Campers might have evening activities scheduled to fill in the time before bed.
- Campers go to bed first, while counselors may stay up to attend staff meetings, enjoy free time or make preparations for the next day.
Building Great Character as a Camp Counselor
There are many qualities that make a great camp counselor. Camp counselors are normally expected to have:
Exceptional camp counselors become role models as they work with their campers. As a counselor, you’ll learn to think on your feet in order to keep your campers entertained, and to practice conflict resolution.
Become a Camp Counselor, and Have The Best Summer of Your Life
Working as a camp counselor will give you a summer full of excitement, new friends, the chance to earn money, and amazing experiences. You’ll have the chance to connect with nature, and you’ll leave with skills you can apply to your future careers and other endeavors.
If you’re interested in becoming a camp counselor and having the experience of a lifetime, look no further! Sign up early for summer 2023, and become an AmeriCamp summer camp counselor! If you have any questions, check out our FAQ, or contact us here.