How Camps Work:
Operations & Responsibilities
Summer camps are a home away from home for children and planning this kind of a retreat for an entire summer takes a lot of work! Depending on your job at a summer camp, you may or may not be involved with the aspects of planning for the care and enjoyment of campers, but it is important to understand who is responsible for these things.
Operating a summer camp begins long before summer, or even spring. As soon as camp is over for the year, most camps immediately begin planning for the next year’s camp. Typically, this job belongs to the administration. The first steps is to review the year that has just ended, and camp staff members usually take part in a meeting to discuss what went right and what went wrong. At larger camps, a report is filed to the board of directors or trustees.
Administration reconciles the budget and creates a timeline for planning the next year’s camp. The first full-administration staff meeting allows everyone to toss out ideas for the upcoming year and reviews the staff suggestions. Jobs are then assigned to appropriate members of the administration staff. The groundskeeper usually lives at or near the campsite in order to continue to care for the camp.
In early spring, planning begins to get busier. Members of the administration begin to form a schedule of the camp’s activities and contact previous staff members about employment. As the spring wears on, new members of the staff are hired and the custodial and maintenance crews begin cleaning the camp from the winter in preparation for the summer to being. Filling all of the summer camp jobs each year can be a challenge!
At this point, advertising is also important, and a specific member of the administration is usually solely in charge of distributing information about the camps to schools, advertising in newspapers and on the radio, and registering campers.
Once hired at a summer camp, you may need to undergo special training. This depends on the ages of the campers, your past work experience, the job you will be doing, and the type of summer camp. About a week or two before the campers arrive, the staff reports to camp. This time is used to make final preparations for the campers, answer staff questions, finish training new staff members, and meet everyone working at the camp. Camp directors usually go over responsibilities once again and special meet-and-greet events may be planned.
Campers arrive and the real work begins. The camp is split into groups and counselors are assigned a specific group of campers. Each day is then scheduled to include activities and meals and the camp may hold a parent’s program at the end of the summer right before the kids leave. The process then starts all over again to plan the next year’s camping experience.