March 18, 2022
You get to spend the days in beautiful places with some incredible people — staff and campers alike. But it’s also the kind of job that won’t really make sense to your friends and family that you try to tell stories to when you go home. A great camp counselor has the tenacity to weather an argument between campers and five minutes later be cheering them on from the dugout or the dock.
A typical day at camp starts with a bugle for wakeup and breakfast before heading back to the bunk for cleaning. Before lunch, counselors will be going off to their separate jobs. Coaches or specialists heading different activity areas head out to prepare for sessions with different bunks and non-specialist counselors getting the campers ready for whatever activities are on theirs schedule for the day. After lunch the process repeats before some sort of larger evening activity after dinner.
At night a counselor’s day begins to deviate depending on their schedule and camp. Time off often comes at night, after evening activity. It differs between camps, but typically each counselor will spend a few nights a week “on” in a camper bunk getting campers ready for bed so they’re ready for whatever the next day brings. On nights ”off” counselors are often free to go to town for late night meals, hit up the store for essentials, etc. The time off at night gives a few hours to counselors to unwind after long days.
In addition to time off at night, counselors usually get 5-6 days off during a full season. When a day off begins is determined by the camp you are working at, but most head counselors will allow an early leave time if a counselor or group of counselors wants to drive to a location or city further away than a couple of hours. During days off, counselors are typically free to explore the area around their camp. Whether that be going on a hike, hitting the beach, wandering around a mall, or pretty much any other activity you could think of.
The most important quality for a camp counselor to have is an ability to adapt. Whether it’s a planned activity changing five minutes before your cabin is supposed to be there because of a change in weather, thinking on your feet during an argument in the bunk, or simply getting a group of younger campers to bed by inventing a story.