So you’ve decided that you want to work at a Summer Camp in the USA – great decision! But you’ve also thought that you might not have the skills required, or you just want that something extra to really make your application pop. First thing to note is that having a good skill set or experience is preferred but not required – don’t stress if you don’t tick every box. The most important thing is that you have a good attitude and willingness to learn. But the great news is that there are a lot of ways to improve your skills before you head over to the USA!


Get More Experience With Kids

This one is pretty self-explanatory – camps are hiring you to take care of kids, so the more experience you have, the more desirable you’ll be as a counsellor. There are a lot of ways you can get experience with kids before heading over. Probably the most common is babysitting for friends and family (yes that definitely counts), but one that a lot of people don’t think of is coaching. Most local sports teams will always be happy to have another coach, even to help out someone who’s been coaching for years. This is both a great way to give back to the community and grassroots sports, and also make your application look amazing!


Get a Lifeguard Certificate, Swim Qualification, or anything else to do with water!

Camps in the USA love hiring Aussies and Kiwis to be lifeguards, swim instructors, boating counsellors, pretty much anything to do with water! If you’ve got some experience with doing any of these things, getting a qualification can be the thing to put your application over the top. Getting a boat license, bronze medallion, or any other qualification to do with the water will definitely help your chances of getting placed quickly.


Complete an Outdoor Experience Course

Do some searching for your local outdoor pursuits/experience course. Most camps will have some kind of high ropes or rock climbing wall so it’s an awesome skill set to develop nice and early. Adventure Works in Auckland has partnered with IEP New Zealand to allow you to complete the outdoor adventure course FOR FREE so any camp with these facilities would be silly not to hire you. It’s a 6 week, full time course where you will learn and develop leadership skills, technical skills including ropes, mountain biking, and tramping, risk management, group management and more! Get in touch with Adventure works and let them know you want to go to Summer Camp USA with IEP and are interested in being a skilled counsellor and they will sort you out!

Get a First Aid Certificate

This is a huge one, because it shows camps that you will be able to take care of the kids if they get hurt during activities. Even outside of camp, it is a life skill that will always be good to have. There are certain camps who will only hire counsellors who have a first aid certificate, so if you want to make sure you have as many options as possible, it would be a great idea!


Practice Your Skills

Even once you’ve been placed, it doesn’t mean it’s time to stop improving for camp. Once you’re there, you’ll be playing softball, hockey, basketball, soccer, swimming, boating, dancing, singing and making arts & crafts. If you want to be as prepared for camp as possible, make sure you’re plenty active in the months leading up to it! It will also prepare you well for being on your feet all day every day!


Start working on these things today – reach out to the local community for babysitting and coaching opportunities, sign up to the nearest first aid and lifeguarding courses and get involved in an outdoor pursuits courses. It all contributes to making you the most hireable camper on the market! You should also get your Summer Camp USA application in to give yourself enough time to get a job placement and make plans for travel.