Great Counselors Make Great Camps!

2023 is only days away, which means counselor screening and training will be underway for the summer season before we know it! If you plan to send your child to camp this summer, it is important to understand how counselors are screened before hiring, how they are selected, and how they are trained once they’ve been hired.


How Are Counselors Screened And Selected?

Top quality camps have a screening process for counselors and other staff that includes an application, interviews, background checks, checking the national sex offender database, and reference checks. Camps accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)  strive to uphold rigorous screening, selection, and training standards for all their staff. Finding an accredited camp would be a great start in ensuring your child is at a camp with highly qualified staff.

Knowing how camps screen and select counselors is important for your peace of mind. A Camp with a thorough screening process places high value on safety, integrity, and personal responsibility.

When talking to the Camp Director, here are some good questions to ask about their screening process:

  • Do you require all applicants to pass a background check before hiring?
  • Do you require all applicants to pass a sex offender database check before hiring?
  • Do you require all applicants to pass a drug test before hiring?
  • Do you allow people with criminal records to work for your camp? (If so, please explain.)
  • What experience do you look for in a counselor? (Is previous experience working with children and youth required?
  • If you hire counselors in training or other staff in high school, what are their qualifications and responsibilities?
  • Are all staff certifications (such as CPR/First Aid) current before hiring?
  • Describe your training for activity safety. Do staff have to demonstrate competency before leading an activity?
  • If the activity requires more specialized training (like horseback riding, various sports, or lifeguarding), do you require special certification?
  • Describe your day-to-day safety procedures and what your staff is trained to do when there is an emergency, illness, injury, or inclement weather.

How Important is Character?

It’s essential to ensure a camp’s screening guidelines guarantee that counselors are qualified to lead activities and your child will be healthy and safe at camp. It’s just as important to know that counselors have the character strengths to support your child as they develop the many lifelong skills camp teaches. The personal strengths a camp looks for are also a good clue to the overall values and priorities of the camp itself.

For example:

  • What are some personality traits you look for in your staff?
  • What character strengths make the counselors you hire stand out?
  • How important are those strengths to your final hiring decision?

Imagine a kind and empathetic counselor who puts your child’s needs first. It would be great to know without a doubt that if your child feels sick, sad, or misses home while at camp, their counselor is willing and able to meet those challenges with kindness, gentleness, and patience. Whether it’s reassuring a camper who falls and scrapes their knee, telling a joke when a camper is sad or encouraging a camper to meet a new friend or try a new challenge, the right counselor anticipates opportunities for their campers to grow and rises to the occasion.


Training Role Models & Leaders 

Once you know that a camp hires qualified, caring staff, it’s good to get more detailed information about how counselors are trained once they’re hired.

One effective way to learn more is to ask the camp director what’s included in their counselor training. Of course, counselors should be trained to facilitate camp activities. But it’s also important to know that your child’s counselor will have ideas for helping develop social skills and independence.  A truly great counselor is a role model and example for campers of leadership skills, character, and maturity.

  • How do you train counselors to understand children’s developmental needs?
  • How do you train counselors to manage challenging behaviors?
  • How are counselors trained to manage a group?
  • How do you develop your counselors’ leadership skills?
  • How will your counselors help my child to be more independent at camp?
  • Why are your counselors’ great role models for their campers?

When you have affirmative, positive answers to these questions, you know you’ve found a camp where your child can grow and thrive.

Leadership Academy believes in hiring only the most qualified, caring staff for our youth and teen programs. To talk to our team about our counselor screening and training,  or if you would like to join our dedicated staff, call us at 833-244-3288 or email [email protected].

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