Author: Renee Purcell

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Taking the First Steps Towards a Camp Counselor Job

Are you interested in working at a summer camp in the USA, but don’t really know where to begin? Well you’re in luck! Here at GetSETraining, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you take those first steps toward working as a camp counselor. Read on to find out our tips and tricks…

Do your research:

After deciding that you want to go to a summer camp in the USA, your very first step should be to find an agency. These are the people that will support you getting a visa from the United States and will guide you through the overall process. While there are many different visa sponsor agencies, some of the bigger ones are CCUSA, Camp Leaders, IENA, Americamp and Camp America. Each agency will charge you a different fee, but they will also offer different services. For example, depending on your home country some book your flight to the USA for you, and some offer different inclusions and training beforehand. It’s also worth noting that some agencies only work with specific camps or a small number of camps, so do your research online and even consider calling in to talk to a representative about what that agency offers. Keep in mind, some will offer early bird discounts – so it’s definitely worth doing this research early and signing up to take advantage of the reduction in fees!

Completing your application:

Once you register with a visa sponsor agency, they will ask you to do an application with them. This is the information that they will send out to summer camps who might be interested in hiring you. It’s super important that you understand this is a job application. That means that it needs to be professional! Steer clear of using slang like “u” or “gud” and make sure to have a friend or mentor proofread your application. Sometimes it’s easy to oversee errors on your own application since you know yourself so well! If you have an interest in learning a new skill or getting a certification, make sure to do that before you complete your application. The more experience you have in recreational activities (think camping, lifeguarding, rock climbing or archery), the better! If you are experienced in performing arts or horse riding all of those skills are great too. Also, make sure to include all of your work and volunteer experience, including things that you might not think are relevant. Who knows, you might have volunteered at an animal hospital and a camp you’re working at is looking for someone who has experiences with animals!


With smartphones it seems that everyone has a huge number of photos of themselves – selfies, group photos, professional photos and… yikes, unprofessional photos too. It’s really important that you’re aware of the photos you have floating around online. All camp directors check social media to see what kind of person they’re REALLY hiring, so you definitely want to ensure that your photos are the kind that showcase a responsible young person who is capable of looking after children. And while we’re on the topic of photos, make sure you choose a fun, but professional and appropriate one for your application. Here’s a hint: a photo of an applicant holding a beer and smoking doesn’t exactly make a camp director want to hire someone.

Job fair ready:

Once you’ve registered with an agency, it’s likely that you will attend a job fair in a city close to your home. This is an incredibly important day as you will be meeting a lot of potential future bosses of yours! It’s essential that you prepare thoroughly for this day. Preparation includes things like looking up the location ahead of time and figuring out your transportation for the day. If you’re parking, where will you park? If you’re taking public transportation, what’s the quickest route and how do you get from the station to the job fair? Either way, make sure you get there with plenty of time to spare. Nothing’s worse than being stuck in traffic and stressing about not having enough time to see all the camps you want to meet and chat with. Speaking of which, make a list! Agencies will notify you of, or post the camps that will be attending the fair online, so it’s a good idea to look into these camps ahead of time. You can look at their websites or social media accounts to answer questions like: what type of facilities do they have? What type of campers do they cater to? What programs do they offer? Pick your top three and make sure you speak to them first!

When you attend a job fair, make sure you are personally prepared as well. This means dressing appropriately and having all your documents in order. Consider your outfit ahead of time. While a suit and tie isn’t necessary… probably not best to wear your pajamas either (believe it or not, it happens). In terms of your documents, be organized! Have copies of your relevant certifications, whether it be a lifeguarding cert, working with kids qualification, background or police check. Similarly, if you’re going for a specific role like photographer, bring (or have access to online) your portfolio to showcase your work. And finally, be confident! You’ve got this! And with all of this preparation, camp directors will be ready to hire you!

Anxiety at Camp – A review of Bob Ditter’s Camping Magazine Article

Anxiety. Just reading the term might bring up feelings of tightness in one’s chest, a quickened heartbeat, and clammy hands. In reality, it’s something we all face, but some just face it a bit more regularly. Many people have techniques for dealing productively with anxiety, while others let it take over and are unable to function productively.

Let’s dig into this term. defines anxiety as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune” or “earnest but tense desire; eagerness”. It also includes a definition in relation to psychiatry as “a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.” So, from these definitions you get a broad understanding of the term anxiety as either a negative feeling (fear), a positive feeling (eagerness), or a mental disorder (clinically diagnosed “anxiety disorder”). Positive feelings of anxiety can be good as they might motivate us to act, but when anxiety is a negative feeling, interventions (and preventative techniques) may be needed.

Bob Ditter is quite well known in the summer camp industry. On his profile on the American Camp Association (ACA) (link:, his is listed as a licensed clinical social worker who specialized in child, adolescent and family therapy. He has written countless articles for the ACA and has been a leader on cutting edge topics such as technology and screen use among adolescents and anxiety. He has recently written an article for the ACA’s publication Camping Magazine (link: discussing issues of anxiety among staff. I encourage you to read the entire article as he includes a lot of great information.

For today’s blog, I want to highlight Ditter’s “Staff Self Care Plan” that he includes at the end of his piece. While he explains why some staff may be experiencing feelings of anxiety working at camp, I think the takeaway here is what to do to prevent feeling overly anxious at camp.

1.     Sleep – We all know the importance of sleep, and for any of us who have already worked at camp, we know how hard it can be to come by. Make sure to plan ahead to sleep during time off and to get to bed early as often as you can.

2.     Short breaks: meditate/breathe – Consider different strategies that work for you during your short breaks, including meditation, deep breathing, or even journaling. Find out what works for you.

3.     Light, daily exercise – While it’s not always possible to get a full workout in at camp, think about ways that you can get your body moving, whether it be a brisk walk, using resistance bands, or body weight exercises.

4.     Plan ahead for your time off! – Be smart about what you do during your time off. Linking back to the first point, sleep is essential and using your time off to rest up would be a wise decision. Be careful not to engage in activities that actually make you more tired – that’s not what time off is meant for!

5.     Have trusted allies – talking to people you trust is one of the best ways to alleviate feelings of anxiety. It’s great to have friends and family back home that you can talk to, but sometimes at camp it’s not possible to access them, so find colleagues and leadership staff that you feel comfortable speaking with.

Hopefully these tips and tricks from Bob Ditter (and elaborated on by me!) are helpful for you during your summer camp work experience. Keep in mind that this is just a taster of the types of things we will talk about during our “Get Prepped” course. If you want more, make sure to register for our course, and watch this space for more blogs coming soon! 

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