What Skills Do I Need to be a Summer Camp Counselor?

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Getting a Summer Camp Job

Through tremendous dedication and hard work, summer camp counselors are the ones who plan and organize the day-to-day activities at camp. From the youngest campers to adolescent campers, counselors offer emotional support and guidance, modeling good behavior, lending a friendly ear, and doing their very best to ensure that camp is as enjoyable as possible.

Great camp counselors are patient and kind when interacting with campers. If you want to be a counselor, you should exude positive energy when overseeing camp activities. The best counselors should use their creativity, initiative, and selflessness to improve the summer camp experience.

The best camp counselors demonstrate these skills:


And more patience.  To succeed as a camp counselor, you must have an endless supply of patience when interacting with campers. Campers require your guidance when you explain a set of instructions or play a new game with them. You will likely need to repeat yourself several times over the course of a day.  And while this may try your patience, great camp counselors never yell at the campers or get angry. A responsible counselor needs to be a role model and maintain composure, even when the campers don’t.

Communication skills

Camp counselors must have excellent communication skills. Whether you’re giving instructions or describing a new concept, you must speak clearly and engagingly. While the best camp counselors are definitely great speakers, they also need to be great listeners. Young campers and veteran teen campers alike need to feel they can turn to their camp counselor for advice, or simply for a compassionate ear.


A creative camp counselor can make anything and everything more fun. Great camp counselors often use creativity to solve conflicts or to quickly adapt to a new schedule change. Being creative means that when something unexpected happens, a camp counselor can think on their feet and respond properly.


Good camp counselors must be compassionate and kind. Campers can be expected to experience a range of emotions and moods, from anger to sadness, fright to worry, and everything else under the sun.  Who do they turn to?  Their counselor. Even if the matter may seem trivial to you, it is important to treat each camper with kindness and respect. Taking care of kids is second nature for great camp counselors. The best counselors never minimize the fears, the sadness, or the pain of any child. Instead, great counselors do everything possible to help the kids feel better and listened to, and then help get them back in the swing of things to enjoy themselves.

Positive energy

All campers, regardless of age, love spending time with a camp counselor who is lively, energetic, and always ready for a new activity. Camp counselors should make sure they get plenty of rest so that they feel motivated at the start of each day.


Strong initiative is an absolute must for camp counselors. Camp counselors need to understand what their job is and what is expected of them. What does it mean to show initiative? It means that the counselor will enthusiastically perform their duties, without being asked. A good counselor sets a positive example for campers. When campers are inspired to look up to their counselors and take initiative themselves, you know the counselor has really mastered this important skill.


Selfless counselors understand their job is to provide every camper with a fun and engaging experience. A selfless counselor dedicates their summer to making sure campers are having a great time.  Being selfless also means that the summer camp counselors know how to take care of themselves. It is important that the counselors know how to recharge, rest, and relax, so they can be fully present for the kids at summer camp.

Catalina Island Camp Counselors

Looking for a summer camp counselor job? Catalina Island Camps encourages you to look into working with us! Get your job FAQs answered or apply to be a camp counselor today.