What Skills Do I Need to Be a Camp Counselor?

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Summer camp counselors possess a multitude of skills with real-world value. A lot of the essential skills you gain as a camp counselor will be used well beyond your time at camp and will easily translate to success elsewhere.

6 critical skills to master for camp and for life:


Most people like to think they can easily empathize with other people. But as a camp counselor, this attribute will be put to the test. Over and over and over. You will need to empathize with other campers. You will need to put yourself at their level and understand their intentions from their perspective. 

You’ll learn how to empathize and accept others when you spend time as a camp counselor.  This is a critical, invaluable life skill with endless applications in personal and professional settings.


One of the first and most essential skills you learn as a camp counselor is problem-solving. Camp life can be unpredictable on multiple levels.  From unexpectedly changed schedules to camper-relationship management, equipment repairs to travel logistics, the possibilities for problem-solving are endless for counselors. 

This is true for life in general, and the best way to become a better problem-solver is by learning on your feet. By being a camp counselor, there will be no shortage of these invaluable learning experiences.


Let there be no mistake, camp counselors have their endurance tested all the time, every day.  Keeping up with campers in the hot sun, in a cabin, on a bus, on the water or on a playing field will keep you on your toes like nobody’s business, especially when you have to do it with an unwavering positive attitude. That isn’t always easy, and it can definitely become tiring.  

Camp pushes boundaries and tests your comfort levels. The same can be said when you’re at the office. When everyone else talks about that “afternoon slump,” you’ll be able to draw on your camp counselor experiences to overcome it.


As a camp counselor, you are constantly communicating. Body language, tone, and of course spoken words are just a few of the ways you will interact with campers, counselors, parents, and others when you’re working at a camp. Effective communication is an essential trait at home, at work, and in every relationship. As a camp counselor, your communication skills will be tested broadly and deeply, and you will grow and benefit from the experience. 


If you really want to hone your patience skills, become a counselor! Working with kids means being patient with them and having your patience tested at every turn, every day. This is one of the most essential skills of a camp counselor. When you learn how to keep your patience in check, you’re able to handle just about anything, and that will serve you tremendously outside of camp, too.


Leadership skills are everything nowadays and represent probably the single greatest trait of a great camp counselor. A great leader influences the entire dynamic of a team. Great leaders inspire the people around them to be better. 

As a camp counselor, you’re expected to be a leader and role model. And once you’re put into a leadership position, you’ll be able to draw on those particular qualities to differentiate yourself from others who did have the camp counselor experience. 

Camp counselors are also forced to take a leadership position with parents, guiding them through the anxiety and unknowns of sending their children away to sleepaway camp.

The skills you learn during your time as a camp counselor look great on a resume or cover letter. Working with young campers and adolescents will only increase your rationality and patience. Whether it’s problem-solving, empathy, communication, stamina or leadership – your time as a camp counselor will really help prepare you for life down the road.

Catalina Island Camps

Interested in learning more about the role of a counselor? Check out some of the answers to these frequently asked questions about our California summer camp experience for our counselors. Or, take a look at Catalina Island Camp’s staff openings.