How to Become a Camp Counselor: The Complete Guide

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.

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.Â

For many, camp was a memorable and magical experience growing up. As a camp counselor, you get to help create that experience for a new generation of campers. It’s an incredibly fun and rewarding summer job.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to become a camp counselor. From required skills and training to finding a job and preparing for camp, you’ll learn insider tips to launch your camp counselor career.

What Does a Camp Counselor Do?

A camp counselor supervises and leads a group of campers. You are responsible for the safety, wellbeing and enjoyment of your assigned campers 24/7 while they are at camp.

Common camp counselor duties include

  • Lead your cabin group in daily activities like sports, arts and crafts, swimming, campfires, hiking and more.

  • Live in a cabin with your assigned campers and oversee them at night

  • Ensure camp rules and safety guidelines are followed.

  • Build relationships with campers through group games and one-on-one time.

  • Identify and respond to individual needs of campers.

  • Communicate with parents about their child’s experience.

  • Plan out activity schedules.

  • Supervise campers at mealtimes.

  • Oversee campers during down time before bed.

  • Perform administrative tasks like tracking attendance and behavior reports.

The day-to-day work keeps you on your toes with a mix of structured activities and free time while supervising your group of campers around the clock.

Camp Counselor Skills and Qualifications

A great camp counselor has a specific blend of hard and soft skills. Here are some of the most important abilities needed:

Communication Skills

You’ll constantly interact with campers, fellow staff, and parents throughout the summer. Strong verbal and written communication skills are a must.


As a counselor, you are a role model and authority figure for campers. Strong leadership skills are required to guide your group.


Camp brings new challenges every day. Think quick on your feet to solve issues – big and small.


Keep track of camper medications, schedules, activities and other details for your group.


Working with younger campers requires tons of patience. Handle stressful situations calmly.


Camp is fast-paced with long hours. You’ll need stamina and energy all summer long.


Plans change quickly at camp. Roll with whatever each day brings.


Make activities engaging and fun. Crafts, campfire skits and more require creative thinking.

Specific qualifications vary by camp, but common requirements include:

  • Minimum age (often 18 years old).

  • High school diploma or equivalent.

  • CPR and first aid certification.

  • Ability to pass a background check.

  • Experience working with children.

  • Willingness to work overnight and long hours.

  • Clean driving record for driving camp vehicles.

Types of Camp Counselor Jobs

There are a few different types of camp counselor roles:

General Counselor

Supervise a cabin group of campers in all activities. Most common counselor role.

Activity Counselor

Specialize in teaching a specific activity like waterskiing, horseback riding, climbing, arts and crafts, etc. Activity counselors usually have relevant skill, training or certification.

Specialty Camp Counselor

Some camps focus on specific areas like science, technology, sports, performing arts or academics. Specialty counselors have background in the camp’s focus.

Teen Counselor

Some camps hire responsible teens (often ages 15-17) with adult supervision. Great first job for teens with counselor aspirations.

Camp Director

Oversee the entire camp and staff. Directors have extensive camp experience.

There are great opportunities to match your skills and interests with the right camp counselor role.

How to Become a Camp Counselor: Step-by-Step

Follow these steps to start your camp counselor career:

1. Gain Relevant Experience

Experience working with children is hugely helpful when applying for camp jobs. Consider volunteer work, coaching, tutoring, babysitting or other roles working with youth.

2. Get Required Certifications

Most camps require CPR and first aid training. Lifeguarding, archery certifications or wilderness first responder can open up specialty roles.

3. Apply for Camp Jobs

The peak hiring season is January through April, but applications are accepted year-round. We’ll cover the job search process below.

4. Interview for a Camp Counselor Position

Come prepared to interview with your experience, skills and enthusiasm. Expect questions about working with kids.

5. Accept a Camp Job Offer

Give careful consideration to the camp environment, activities, salary and time commitment when weighing offers.

6. Complete Pre-Camp Training

Many camps require online or in-person staff orientation before camp begins to review policies and procedures.

7. Prepare for Camp

Shop for recommended clothes and gear. Arrive early for on-site staff training. Get ready for an amazing summer!

With this step-by-step guidance, you’ll be ready to start your adventures as a camp counselor.

How to Find a Camp Counselor Job

The best places to look for camp counselor jobs include:

  • Camp Job Boards: Sites like and list nationwide camp job openings. Easy way to browse many potential jobs in one place.

  • Camp Websites: Search individual camp websites for job postings. Apply directly through their site or link to the company’s online application.

  • Social Media: Follow camps on Instagram or Facebook where openings are often promoted. Search relevant hashtags like #campjobs.

  • Job Sites: Major sites like have a category for camp counselor roles. Leverage their search tools.

  • Idealist: Great source for camps with a focus on community service, youth development and more. Lets you search by region and camp type.

  • College Career Sites: Many college job boards promote summer camp jobs. Contact your career center.

  • Work at a Previous Camp: Returning counselors are highly valued by camps. Check if your favorite camp growing up needs staff.

Cast a wide net across these channels to find the perfect camp job match.

Camp Counselor Interview Tips

You scored an interview – awesome! Here are some tips to ace the interview and land the job:

Highlight Camp Experience

Talk about any prior experience at camp as a camper or counselor. Share great memories and passion for camp.

Discuss Working with Kids

Expect questions about experience supervising and relating to children. Provide examples that showcase patience, energy, and creativity.

Ask Insightful Questions

What ages will you work with? Daily schedule? Other counselor responsibilities? Demonstrate real interest.

Convey Enthusiasm and Maturity

Camp directors look for staff who excel working with kids and understand the job’s demands.

Be Yourself

Let your personality shine through. Camps seek counselors who bring fun energy.

Preparation is key, but don’t overthink it. Relax and be your genuine self. If you have the right skills and attitude, you’ll impress any camp director.

Camp Counselor Salary and Perks

Pay for camp counselors depends on the camp, location, experience level, and position type. Typical camp counselor pay ranges from $200 to $500 weekly or $2,000 – $3,000 for the full summer. Many camps provide room and board onsite so your main expense is travel to the camp.

Along with a paycheck, counselors enjoy awesome perks:

  • Spend the whole summer outdoors doing activities you love.

  • See friendships and confidence grow in your campers.

  • Meet lifelong friends with fellow staff members.

  • Gain leadership, responsibility and problem-solving skills.

  • Get training and certifications for your resume.

  • Take a break from school and careers to have fun.

For counselors, the job’s rewards go far beyond the salary.

How to Prepare for Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

You landed your dream counselor job – congratulations! Here are some tips to prepare:

Complete Required Training

Many camps require online or in-person staff training prior to camp. This covers policies, procedures, emergency protocols and more. Complete all pre-camp assignments so you’re ready for day one.

Shop for Supplies

Use the camp’s packing list to stock up on recommended clothes, bedding, toiletries, and other essentials. Break in closed-toe shoes.

Pack Properly

Pack enough clothes for the

how to become camp counselor

Preparing For Your Camp Counseling AdventureÂ

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.Â
  • Emergencies: Counselors have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline.

What a Normal Day Might Look Like As a Camp CounselorÂ

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:Â

  • Counselors wake up before campers to prepare for their day.
  • The start of the day is normally occupied by breakfast and organizing.Â
  • 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.Â



How much do most camp counselors make?

Annual Salary
Hourly Wage
Top Earners
75th Percentile
25th Percentile

Should you become a camp counselor?

With the official first day of summer right around the corner, it’s time for many college students and young adults to think about summer employment. While a steady paycheck and schedule is nice, being a camp counselor has many other rewards too, from hands-on training opportunities to practical life skills. Plus, it’s just fun.

How can I be an effective camp counselor?

You can use many skills to be an effective camp counselor when working with both campers and other camp staff members. Here are examples of skills that may benefit you and information about how you might use them while working at camp: Communication skills can help you effectively share information with your campers.

What is a camp counselor position?

Steady Summer Employment. A camp counselor position offers steady employment and set hours for those students looking for stable, full-time summer work.

How can a camp counselor prepare for summer?

A good way to prepare for this is by trying not to use your phone all the time but instead, do things that don’t require electronics. As a camp counselor, you’re going to want to try to make friends with the other camp counselors as they’re the people you will be seeing the most throughout your summer.

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