Come on, fire some questions about working at camp at me and I’ll answer them as fully as I can. Of course, if you want to know the full story behind being a camp counselor you should check out my paperback and eBook of Secret Diary of a Camp Counselor.
1. What time do I have to wake up?
Whichever way you look at it: EARLY. Sometime between 7 and 8 most probably, and you better be cheery about it too.
2. What are the kids really like?
Imagine yourself at 8 years old, 10 years old, 13 years old, what were you like? What was the most annoying person in your class like? And the dorkiest, and the prettiest, and the most screwed up? Well you will encounter all of them and everything in between. You should read Secret Diary of a Camp Counselor if you want to know more.
3. What do I do on nights off?
This also depends immensely on the camp. On both camps I’ve been to you could go out drinking with the other counselors at night, so long as you were back in time to get the kids up for breakfast in the morning. I know the camp agencies won’t like me telling you this, but from my experience and from what I’ve heard from friends at other camps the nighttime drinking culture is one of the best things about camp and nearly all of them will have something. If you want to hear about the night time activities in more depth, read Secret Diary of a Camp Counselor.
4. What if I don’t like working at camp?
If you don’t like it you have three options.
- Grin and bare it.
- Leave and don’t get paid and you’ll probably have to pay your own flight home.
- Intentionally break your leg or other body part so you can get flown home on the medical insurance.
5. How do I get paid?
It depends on your camp. At my first camp I got a little sub about two weeks before the end – around £200 – and then the rest on the last day in cash. At the camp I went to in my second year we all got paid in cash on the final day. Some camps will pay every two weeks, it really depends.
6. What do I eat?
Chicken wings, perogis, bagels, and lots of other highly calorific, sugary concoctions. Judging from my two years at camp, there is no way you will be able to eat healthily at camp.
7. What if I don’t make any friends?
I can guarantee this isn’t something to worry about. Even if you’re the weirdest person ever you will meet your kindred spirit at camp. The camp agencies knew what they were doing when they hired you and so did the Camp Directors. Just get chatting to everyone and read my post on making friends at summer camp and you’ll be fine.
8. How much time do I get off in the day?
Again, this depends on your camp. I got an hour off a day and then we had rest hour where we just had to chill with the kids. In my second camp I had loads of time every day because I was Evening Activities Coordinator. Depends how hard the Camp Directors want to flog you.
9. Will I enjoy it?
As you’ll read in my book, there were times that I hated camp, but there were more times that I loved it. Camp is a rollercoaster there’s no doubt about it – but it will also be the best summer of your life.
10. What do I need to take with me?
Take a few photos – they’re good for decorating around your bunk and can be a good conversation starter with your fellow counselors and the kids. Obviously check what you’re up to on them before you go plastering them on the walls. Take clothes that you don’t mind ruining. Your camera and a few UK flag-emblazoned items for Independence Day – the camps go crazy. Keep an eye on this blog for a fuller kit list for camp in the future.