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What It Takes To Be A Camp Staff Member

Becoming a camp staff member requires a very unique skill set and a profound love for children. While this position may not be for everyone, we have found that high school graduates and college students have so much to offer to the children, and in return they gain responsibility, as well as strong social and leadership skills. A camp staff member has a huge impact on the overall camper’s experience, both short and long term. Being responsible for your group’s safety, well-being and happiness while creating a memorable Summer is something all camp staff members are expected to achieve. So what else does it mean to be successful in this position? Let’s explore!

A Camp Staff Member Must Be A Leader And Lead By Example!


Taking on the responsibility of dealing with children is a very serious commitment. The camp staff member must be able to prove their ability to give directions, manage their time efficiently, and above all else exemplify what being a good role model means. While camp is fun and exciting, being a camp staff member is a demanding role that is not to be taken lightly. A camp staff member should always maintain a professional appearance and be prepared to keep things clean and organized. The campers look up to the staff and want to be JUST LIKE THEM, so it is of the utmost importance to lead by example! The staff member’s actions and words speak volumes of the influence they will have on their campers. While this may all sound daunting, many staff members enjoy and thrive on this responsibility and the effect that they have on the campers. They gain confidence and self respect, and utilize these skills well beyond their counselor years!

According to Chuck Budah, co-owner of Park Shore, “The interview process truly never ends after being hired as a camp staff member. We are constantly evaluating our staff and working with them to help them become the best they can be. Our team of directors observe each staff member’s interactions with the campers at various activities, how the staff problem solves situations, and offer advice and additional training. Our goal is to have a fun and fully engaged staff that create a wonderful experience for each of our campers.”

What Type Of Training Is Involved in Becoming A Camp Staff Member?

There is usually a rigorous training period involved before a potential staff member can begin working. This starts with an in depth interview with a Human Resources Specialist who will decide if the candidate is a suitable fit for the camp, at which point references and background checks are performed. Once the candidate is hired, an extensive training program begins and topics such as safety protocols, camp traditions, rules and regulations, food allergies and anything else that may pertain to their camp are reviewed. Depending on the type of camp or activity they will be involved in, additional training and/or certifications may need to be completed before the season begins. A staff member is expected to make the day fun and engaging for the children, so training in “team spirit” and enthusiasm may also be involved.

According to Sarah Doerrie, Human Resources Director at Park Shore, “When I interview a camp counselor, high energy level, desire to work with children and past camp experience is always a plus.  If they were a former camper at our camp or other camps it puts that applicant at the top of my list. Knowing that we share the same love for camp and their goal is to make these campers have the best summer possible is priceless.  Former campers make the best counselors because they draw upon their experiences with their favorite counselors and emulate the positive characteristics that made that counselor their role model.”

What Benefits Does A Camp Staff Member Attain?

Former Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, sums up the camp staff member experience as “a guide to growing up: learning to rely on yourself as you work in a team, developing the tools of leadership, competing to win but finding pride and growth in defeat, discovering the wonder of nature as well as the nature of the men and women who have gone before you.” This statement rings true for many, and often serves as a foundation for entering into the “adult” world. Here are some other benefits that a camp staff member will likely experience:

  • The ability to demonstrate leadership skills. This is an asset to future colleges and employees
  • Getting paid to have fun and be yourself! Camp is truly a place to break out of your shell and be accepted for who you truly are.
  • Creating lasting memories and friendships! Very often lifelong friends are made during the summer camp experience
  • Learning about themselves as well as others. Being a camp staff member will bring out their core strengths, and working with others will expand on teamwork abilities.
  • Camp will become a home away from home. Usually staff members become extremely close and camp becomes a lifestyle versus just a “job”. Smiling faces, positive attitudes and enthusiasm allow for an amazing workplace environment.

Being a summer camp staff member is an amazing opportunity that comes with an array of benefits. Although it requires hard work and dedication, it is well worth everything that will be gained from the experience.

Park Shore Country Day Camp is the premier camp on Long Island, NY and welcomes any questions that you may have. If you or someone you know is looking to join the Park Shore Family, please feel free to reach out to us at anytime!

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