How to Find a Summer Camp Job
Are you wondering what summer jobs are available? If you enjoy working with kids and being outside, you might want to consider applying for a camp job.
Summer camps hire thousands of teens and older students each summer to work as counselors, staff-in-training, activity specialists, kitchen staff, office workers, and groundskeepers. Although jobs are abundant, an effective job search campaign is essential to finding the right position.
Here are some tips to help you land a fun camp job this summer.
Tips for Finding a Summer Camp Job
Build Your Experience
If you are under 17, inquire about counselor-in-training positions or support jobs in the kitchen, landscaping, or the office. Most camps require counselors to be 17 or 18 years old. However, some camp jobs may be available for 16-year-olds or younger (depending on hiring policy and state labor laws). Check the camp's job application and hiring information for details.
For counselor and activity specialist positions, get some experience working with children. Babysitting, tutoring, volunteering with after-school programs, assisting coaches with kids' teams, helping drama/dance/music teachers, assisting scout leaders, or acting as a Big Brother/Big Sister are all examples of viable experience.
Ask guidance counselors, clergy, coaches, teachers, or college volunteer coordinators for suggestions on how you can volunteer and gain experience.
Start Your Job Search Early
Start your search as early as possible, when most jobs are still available. Camps normally begin hiring during the winter months. But don't worry if you get a late start. Some positions are often still available in May and June.
Target Your Job Search
For those targeting specialist positions, make sure you gain certifications or secure references that attest to your competence in swimming/aquatics, art, drama, sports, technology, horseback riding, climbing, etc. You'll want to do this in advance of your search for a summer camp job. Make sure to mention your certifications on your resume and application.
Define the types of camps you would like to target, including overnight or day camps, special needs camps, or those with a special focus like environmental, adventure, art, music, sports, academic, etc. This will make it easier for you to search for a position.
Some camps are specialized. If you are majoring in psychology, social work, education, or a health-related subject, consider working at a camp for those with special needs, like camps geared toward weight loss, asthma, learning disabilities, cancer, or emotional challenges.
Tap Your Network
Camps are often run by teachers and coaches, so ask your favorites for ideas about jobs. If you have impressed them, they may even hire you or refer you for a job.
If you have attended a camp or recreation program as a younger kid, consider contacting the director. Many camps like to hire former campers, who are familiar with how the program or camp functions.
Search a variety of websites that list summer camp jobs like CampJobs, CampChannel, CampPage, and CampDepot. Also, review some of the summer job sites like Cool Works for interesting listings. Search Google for "camp jobs" and your location to get additional listings.
Use the same sites to identify camps and then apply online or contact camp directors to inquire about jobs. Not all camps will post jobs on the sites referenced above, but all will hire young people for summer jobs.
Even if you do not see a position listed, reach out directly to any camps you'd really like to work at.
You can call up the camp, or send an email. Here's an example of a sample inquiry letter.
Contact local YMCAs and other youth organizations since many will run summer day and/or overnight camps.
If you prefer a local day job, contact your town and/or county recreation department to ask about positions with their summer programs.
Tips for Applying for Camp Jobs
Once you've found camps, the next step is to submit an application.
Get Your Resume Ready
That means you'll want to have your resume ready. In your resume, emphasize your relevant experience—and remember, even if you haven't worked at a camp previously, experience with kids is still relevant.
Be sure to include any certifications that you've earned on your resume and applications.
Be Prepared to Interview
After putting in your application, you'll want to make sure that you are well prepared for interviews. Spend some time on the camp's website beforehand, so you have a sense of their values, history, and philosophy.