A camp counselor leads children or adolescents in daily activities prescribed by the nature or theme of the camp. She is the person the campers typically rely upon for guidance, and they normally trust her to ensure their safety and well-being. Since camp generally includes a myriad of scheduled events and activities, the camp counselor is generally relied upon to keep her campers on time and prepared for participation. She may work at a day camp or a camp where the campers live in cabins or tents for days or weeks at a time.
In a general camp environment, one that has no particular theme or educational focus, a camp counselor’s job is often different each day. One day may be devoted to learning how to play musical instruments and the next may concentrate on learning arts and crafts. The following day may then be filled with water activities, such as swimming or canoeing. To be a camp counselor at this type of camp requires highly-developed leadership skills in a wide range of activities.
Camps often have a theme or concentrate on a specific hobby or interest. These camps commonly include themes that emphasize developing skills in certain sports such as tennis or baseball or generally focus on fitness. Some camps are devoted to education in fields such as computer science or music or have a religious theme. Counselors at specialized camps are normally required to have expertise in the fields in which they are leading their campers.
Regardless of the camp’s focus, a camp counselor is usually counted on to represent personal attributes and characteristics generally perceived as positive and constructive. These traits traditionally include honesty, fairness, discipline and compassion. Leading by example is a typical expectation of a camp counselor.
Besides being a mentor and guide, a camp counselor’s job frequently entails providing basic first aid, maintaining the grounds and cabins, and answering diverse questions from campers. Since her campers are normally young and unpredictable, a camp counselor is ordinarily trained to expect the unexpected. She is traditionally required to be able to provide responses appropriate to the ages and comprehension levels of the campers.
For general camps that have no educational-, religious-, hobby- or sports-related angle, a camp counselor is usually required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. If the camp concentrates on a specific subject or area of learning, the counselor is regularly required to have related education, training or a combination of the two to qualify for the position. Some sponsoring organizations provide counselor training prior to the beginning of camp.