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Camp Counselor

Education and Training: High School Diploma, Bachelor’s degree
Average Salary: $9.17 hour or $18,333 per year
Job Outlook: Faster than average

A camp counselor, also referred to as a recreation worker, plans, coordinates, and manages camp activities for camp residents. Some of the responsibilities include keeping residents on schedule, supervising younger camp residents, teaching residents skills such as art or music, taking care of camp equipment, handling resident’s complaints and issues, and documenting any accidents or injuries.

A career as a camp counselor can be very rewarding. Each day for a camp counselor is full of activity and excitement. A successful camp counselor can take satisfaction in knowing that they have made a meaningful contribution to someone’s life. Career opportunities for camp counselors are excellent. A camp counselor can become a camp director, recreation leader, recreation supervisor, recreation park director, or activities counselor once they gain more experience and education.

Education and Training Requirements

The educational and training requirements for a camp counselor position vary according to the organization and the specific job. One basic requirement is that all camp counselors hold CPR and First Aid certification. Most entry-level camp counselor positions are filled by high school students or college students. Most full-time positions require a college degree.

Individuals who wish to advance in the recreation field can pursue a degree in parks and recreation, leisure studies, or a related major. In addition, the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association offer CPR/First Aid certification. The American Heart CPR/First Aid certification is valid for two years from the issue date. The American Red Cross CPR certification is valid for one year and First Aid training is valid for three years from the issue date.

Getting the Job

Although “knowing someone” can get your foot in the door, prior camping experience, good people skills, CPR/First Aid certification, and an extensive knowledge of a special skill is the key to gaining employment as a camp counselor.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment for the recreation field will increase by 15 percent during the 2008-2018 decade. Although employment for part-time, seasonal, or temporary camp counselors is good, competition will be strong for those positions as there are more workers to fill those positions than there are jobs.

Certification and continuing education are the best ways for individuals who wish to go to the next level professionally to advance. The National Recreation and Park Association offers certification as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). The minimum eligibility requirement to take the CPRP is one year of part-time work, at least 20 hours per week, or six months full-time work experience. In addition, the American Camp Association provides educational and learning opportunities for camp professionals.

Working Conditions and Environment

Although camp counselors work in a variety of environments and some travel the world, most work outside in an assortment of weather conditions. Camp counselors may be required to work nights and weekends and most positions are part-time.

Salary and Benefits

The Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the median salary for recreation workers at $21,960. Fifty-percent of recreation workers made between $17,680 and $28,810. Glassdoor.com lists the average salary for camp counselors at $9.17 hour or $18,333 per year. One bonus of working as a camp counselor is that camp counselors generally receive room and board for free.

Where to Go for More Information

American Camp Association
5000 State Rd., 67 N
Martinsville, IN 46151-7902
Phone: (800) 428-2267
Fax: (765) 342-2065

National Recreation and Park Association
22377 Belmont Ridge Rd.
Ashburn, VA 20148-4501
Phone: (800) 626-6772
Fax: (703) 858-0794

Northern Arizona University
Parks and Recreation Management
PO Box 15016
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5016
Phone: (928) 523-6655
Fax: (928) 523-2275

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training