‘The Hardest Job You Will Ever Love’

Camp counselors learn life lessons while teaching children. (Courtesy photo)

A lot of hard work and training goes into making a great camp counselor, a role model who inspires children to become confident and have high expectations for themselves.

“Counselors spend their summer inspiring kids, using their imagination, and learning more about who they are and who they want to become, all while having fun in the process,” said Megan Mikaelian, special programs coordinator for Camp Lonehollow, northwest of San Antonio.

According to jobmonkey.com, summer camp enrollment nationwide is increasing steadily about 10 percent annually, so camps are always looking for staff each season.

Camps hire those who want to be good mentors who can guide children through camp and life, operators said.

“At camp, counselors learn new and valuable life skills that they can take with them into the world and the work place,” Mikaelian said. “They build long-lasting relationships with campers and form lifelong friendships with each other.”

Annie Martin attended Camp Longhorn in the Texas Hill Country for nine years as a camper and came back to work as a counselor for four summers after that.

“I spent my childhood being mentored by girls who taught me lifelong lessons, and I wanted to be just like them growing up,” she said.

Martin credits her camp experiences with teaching her how to work with a variety of personality types.

Counselors spend their time constantly around children. (Courtesy photo)

“Every people skill that I have acquired has come from camp,” she said. “Being a counselor, I have learned the true meaning behind servant leadership.”

In order to qualify as a camp counselor, candidates must have a positive attitude towards children, operators said. The main focus of the job is to be constantly around and with children.

All counselors are required to go through training before camp starts to make sure they have a good understanding and knowledge of safety, camp regulations, and teaching skills. The training period can last up to a week.

The pay is based on their age and experience, camp officials said.

According to the 2016 Compensation, Benefits, & Professional Development Report for the American Camp Association, counselor pay averages about $290 a week.

Some camps such as Camp Longhorn give one-time bonuses each summer to counselors that have certificates such as those for lifeguards or boaters.

While some camps will employ older teens who are still in high school, many want high school graduates who are at least 18 and have some college experience.

“Although the job is very demanding; if a counselor loves kids and is social… it’s the hardest job you will ever love,” Bill Robertson, girls camp director of Camp Longhorn, said.