Camp Counselor: The Perfect Job for Your Teen
Kids love to go to camp and experience new adventures, enjoy a break from everyday life and make new friends. As our kids get older, we want them to learn job skills as well. Why not consider the perfect blend: a camp counselor job?
Here are a few job and life skills your teen will acquire.
A camp counselor must ensure campers get to activities on time, help with minor first aid, play with the kids during activities and be a friend when a camper has a bad day or a home- sick moment. Teens gain maturity as they help young campers with these needs.
Mary K. Miluski, director of summer camp at The School in Rose Valley in Rose Valley, PA, hires teens who are beyond 9th grade to help with the camp’s activities. As paid employees, these junior counselors learn responsibility as they are expected to arrive on time every day and not head home until the last camper has departed. Each junior counselor takes responsibility for a section of the camp program together with adult staff, including lifeguard duty if the teen has the proper certification.
Camps pack their schedules with activities to allow kids the opportunity to experience as much fun as possible in a short amount of time. Camp counselors must keep up, even on days they feel tired or unmotivated.
The teen years typically include spells of sour attitudes and selfishness. A camp counselor role forces a teen to suppress her self-indulgent attitude and replace it with understanding for others.
For teens in the the Leader in Training program at JCC Camps at Medford, NJ, assistant camp director Sara Sideman notes, “It’s their first year being focused on the younger campers, rather than themselves.” Throughout the summer, the teens develop empathy and learn to put the campers’ needs first.
Camp counselors are thrown together with other counselors they don’t know, some whom they might not like. They’re forced to learn how to get along with other peers and adult staff while working toward a common goal.
At the Delaware Nature Society’s summer camps, held at various locations in the state, the teens ages 14-17 in the counselor-in-training program “build strong relationships with both the adults they assist and the children that they oversee during camp,” says camp director Derek Stoner.
Camp involves new adventures for campers and counselors both. Miluski notes that her junior counselors spend a lot of time out of their comfort zones as they work with campers who may only be a few years younger than them. The Delaware Nature Society’s counselors may challenge themselves to handle snakes or lead a nature hike. Counselors gain self-respect as they push themselves beyond their comfort levels.
What a great feeling to know you’re investing in others!
Whether they work one week or 10 weeks, camp counselors go home knowing they’ve made a difference in young children’s lives.
Stoner notes, “By the end of the summer, all of the counselors are better prepared for the working world as future employees. They learn about the importance of following directions, being responsible and providing confident leadership of youth.”
If your teen needs a job that offers life skills , possibly with an income, consider a camp counselor position. Camps of all varieties fill their staff with teenagers who offer fun and camaraderie with young campers. Match the interests of your teen — sports, music, education — with an appropriate camp, and watch your teen blossom.
Gayla Grace is a freelance journalist and mom to five kids.