4 Mistakes To Avoid When Applying For A Job At Summer Camp

Young Camp Counselors Holding Hands

In this article, we’re going to help you stay one step ahead of the competition by sharing 4 common mistakes to avoid when applying for a job at a summer camp. 

Every year, thousands of summer camps across America begin the considerable task of hiring the staff necessary to run their upcoming season. Hiring excellent staff members is a massive undertaking, and each camp will spend their off-season months on the lookout for the best candidates to fit their own unique set of criteria. From year to year, each camp will be hiring everything from counselors, to kitchen staff, and even leadership positions. 

Luckily, every year, there are also hundreds of thousands of young professionals from around the world looking to land their own ideal camp job. Camp looks great on a resume and can fill your summer with adventure, new friendships, useful skills, and lifelong memories, so, it’s not surprising that work at a camp is such a highly sought-after opportunity. For many with a passion for childcare or for those who are on the path towards careers in teaching, there’s no better way to spend a summer. 


1) Sending Only a Resume

The reality of camp hiring is that camps rarely look for a particular work experience or qualification when finding their staff. Rather than looking primarily at things like time spent in a position or GPA, most camps want passionate, adventurous young people who will be great at working with children for a summer. 

If they’re looking through your work history, it will be to see if you have a clear passion for childcare that shows up in the work you’ve done leading up to camp, or to see if you have experience working in a physically and emotionally demanding environment. For example, babysitting on its own is not usually qualified as a strong example of working with children, but if you show that you paired a side-gig of babysitting with heading a volunteer effort that brought together the community to start a children’s literacy program, or that you lead a weekly playground cleanup program, that will certainly stand out! 

All this to say, unless your resume has some excellent examples of how your passion for childcare has led you to seeking a camp job now, don’t rely on it to pave the way to your dream camp. Instead of letting your resume do the work for you, there’s no better opportunity to let your personality shine and have some fun with an application! 

As with everything else, each camp will have its own unique hiring process, but you can bet that the more of your authentic self you let shine through, the better your odds at getting noticed and hired by the right camp for you. This is your chance to make that “All About Me” Slideshow, send along an introductory video, or send along photos of your most intricate tie-dye creations. Don’t be afraid to stand out and show who you are beyond the typical resume. 


2) Being too General

When applying for a job at a summer camp, you need to be specific about your interest in the particular camp you are contacting! We drive this point home a lot, but every camp is unique, meaning that there is hopefully something specific to that camp that’s fueled your desire to work there. 

To bring some personal experience to this category, while hiring at our camp, we got an application that mentioned how excited the applicant was about getting to “do sports” with the campers and going on to talk about their experience with soccer and basketball. All in all, not a bad sentiment, the only problem is…our camp didn’t offer sports, and a quick browse through the website would have been enough to learn that. So, as the person reading this application, I now either have someone who is really excited for something they won’t be able to do at our camp, or I have someone who did not do their research about us before applying to work with us. In either case, it’s no longer an application I’m super excited about. 

There are so many camps out there, so be sure to take the time to figure out why you are choosing to apply at the camps you are! Show that you have put time and effort into researching a particular camp by mentioning specifics from their website or brochure, just like you would research about a company before you go to an interview. The more specifics you can talk about and how they apply to your passions and beliefs, the more likely both you and the hiring team will feel that it’s a good match.


3) Not Finding the Right Balance of Fun and Professional 

Camp is more often than not a fun, creative, and silly place where children and adults alike feel a sense of freedom and playfulness not found elsewhere. When hiring new staff, camps are looking for fun and magnetic personalities, but they are also looking for people who can be trusted to care for groups of children on their own. If there is any doubt about your ability to provide outstanding care for the health, safety, and wellbeing of children, you will not be considered for the job. In order to really shine, you need to strike a balance between showcasing that you can take the responsibilities of the job seriously, while also showing off your fun and adventurous side.

4) Making Your Experience about Anything Other than the Campers

Working at a summer camp will provide you with many awesome benefits. For starters, it looks great on a resume, plus, you will get to meet fun young professionals from around the world, forge friendships that will last a lifetime, try activities like zip lining, and perfect your tie-dying skills, amid countless other perks. Many camp counselors end their summer by traveling with their newfound friends, whether that be cross-country road trips or backpacking across Europe or Southeast Asia. 

You can certainly be excited about all of these opportunities…but we suggest not talking about them when applying for a job at a summer camp. Remember, the people in charge of hiring are searching, first and foremost, for someone who will be great at caring for the campers. Channel your excitement into what you can offer to the camp and the children vs what they can offer you. 

We hope that with these tips in mind, you are able to find and get hired at your dream camp! 


Want to know more? Our Summer Camp experts are ready to answer any of your questions to help you find the perfect camp job. Get in touch today!