Explore America's Campgrounds
Have Fun and Help Your Family Budget at the Same Time
Camp counselors are responsible for caring for and entertaining campers at day or overnight camps. If you love children, enjoy playing and are energized in the great outdoors, working as a camp counselor could be an ideal way to make some extra money while having fun. Working at the same camp your children attend allows you to spend time with them while you work. It’s even better if your camp offers free or discounted camping for children of employees.
Camp counselors are recreation workers who are responsible for caring for children at camp. Many camps offer activities such as hiking, boating, horseback riding, archery, crafts, sports and outdoor skills. Camp counselors help to maintain a daily routine in the children’s playtimes, rest times and mealtimes. At overnight camps, the counselor often spends the night in the same cabin as their campers to enforce lights-out rules as well as to make sure everyone stays safe. When children get hurt, camp counselors might tend to minor scrapes or help the child get appropriate medical care, as well as communicate with parents. Counselors are also often responsible for keeping track of children with special needs or allergies to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable time at camp.
While some camp counselors work as teens without a high school diploma, most camps want their adult employees to have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some camps may also require a bachelor’s degree or specialized coursework. The American Camp Association offers a variety of certifications that may give you an edge on the job or help you step into leadership roles. Some licensed teachers or professors work as camp counselors during school breaks.
The median annual salary for all recreation workers, including camp counselors, is $23,870, which means that half earns more than this, while the other half earns less. The top 10 percent earns more than $41,660, while the bottom 10 percent earns less than $18,000.
About the Industry
Camp counselors work in all kinds of camps, from day camps in the city to overnight camps in the wilderness and everything in between. You could work at a community recreation center, a private athletic center, a church camp, public camp or specialized camp. Those who work at overnight camps generally need to stay on the premises when camp is in session, so expect to pack your bags and enjoy the full camping experience, in either a cabin or a tent.
Years of Experience
Camp counselors enjoy a fun and rewarding job while they earn an income that can help the family budget. Pay does increase slightly over time. One projection looks like this:
- 1–3 Years: $19,299
- 3–6 Years: $19,341
- 7–9 Years: $22,791
- 10–14 Years: $23,796
- 15 or More Years: $25,470
Job Growth Trend
Job opportunities for all recreation workers, including camp counselors, is expected to increase by 9 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as in other industries. Job prospects for camp counselors, who are normally seasonal workers, are expected to be especially good. Volunteer experience and community connections make those prospects even brighter.
Anne Kinsey is a writer, business woman, minister and coach who is passionate about inspiring others to walk out their career dreams and believe in possibilities. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband and three children, where they enjoy the great outdoors and serve at-risk youth together.