Summer may be a time for relaxing in the sun, but many students cannot live solely on student loans and ramen noodles. Students are discovering that they can earn much more than cash as a camp counselor.
There are approximately 1.2 million camp staff in the United States today. A camp job or internship differs from a traditional job or internship because it provides students an opportunity to gain resume-building skills or even academic credit while working with children in the great outdoors.
“Whether you want to work at a camp that specializes in scuba diving on the coast, one that offers mountain climbing in Alaska, or one for children with special needs, a camp job offers real life experiences and a hands-on education that simply cannot be found in a classroom,” says ACA CEO Peg Smith.
At seventeen, Adam Hotchkiss bypassed the typical summer job and instead worked as a camp counselor at Tate’s Day Camp in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hotchkiss continued working at the camp through college, and gained not only many skills, but also the opportunity to add the titles of administrative assistant and program director to his resume.
“Responsibility is a huge benefit, especially for someone in college who has to take care of eight to ten kids by themselves,” he said. “That’s a responsibility that looks great on a resume.”
Hotchkiss said that experience seems to have paid off as he is currently a teacher at the Episcopal School of Knoxville, and he also is the director of summer camp programs at the school.
“Summer camp is a special place where children and adults come together and form a unique community,” explains Smith. Young adults working as counselors have the opportunity to:
- master real-life, problem-solving skills
- have a significant and positive influence in the lives of children
- develop greater self-understanding
- participate in experiences that enhance personal growth
- develop/expand a network of peer relations
To browse job postings or to post a resume, visit the ACA Employment Center at www.ACAcamps.org/jobs . Be sure to also check out the job fairs, which often take place on college campuses or even in conjunction with universities.
The ACA Find a Camp feature, a searchable database of over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps, is also available at www.CampParents.org . Those interested in a camp job can browse camps by location, specialty, special needs, gender, age ranges, and other criteria. The Find a Camp search is perfect for those looking for a specific camp, such as a camp with a specialty or in a certain geographical area.
Smith suggests students “ask about the camp’s mission statement and ask if the camp is accredited by ACA.” Additionally, Smith recommends visiting www.ACAcamps.org/camp-staff  for helpful information.
ACA is the only national organization that accredits camps. To become accredited, a camp must meet up to 300 health and safety regulations. To learn more about ACA, visit www.ACAcamps.org  or www.CampParents.org .
“If someone is considering a camp job, I’d say ‘go for it.’ Even if you only do it for the summer, you gain the experience and you can learn so much from the environment,” Hotchkiss said. “You’ll pick up skills you’ll use in the future, and you will look back ten years later and realize how much it has benefited you.”