While working at summer camp is, like I keep saying, an awesome, fun, fulfilling, amazing, magical thing to do… in fact, I would class it as the best job in the world, while you’re at camp there is one very important thing to remember.
It is a job. Let me repeat. IT. IS. A. JOB. You have been hired to take on a specific role, for a specific length of time and there will be expectations set upon you.
Every moment that you are on camp grounds and on duty, you are working. So, depending on your camp, that’s usually 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. And, just like any other job you may have had before summer camp, and all the jobs you are going to have after summer camp, there are certain non-negotiables that will get you fired and kicked out of camp before you can even blink.
1. Having inappropriate relationships with campers (or, in fact, anyone under 18, even the Junior Counselors who are officially staff members). I think this one needs no explanation. You are there to be a teacher, a leader, a role model. You are in a position of power, and abusing that power by having an inappropriate relationship (of any kind) with a camper will undoubtedly be grounds for sending you packing immediately (and possibly being reported to the police).
2. Physical violence towards a camper or another member of staff. Again, you are at camp to be a leader and role model (and not just for the campers, but for your peers too) – don’t abuse it by losing your temper and lashing out. Being physically violent with anyone on camp will have you outta there before you’ve even gad a chance to realise what’s going on.
3. Being in possession of illegal substances (on or off camp). The explanation is in the word…’illegal’. There’s no apologies or arguments you can make to get yourself out of this one. If you ever want to come back to America again, it’s just not worth it… don’t even do it off camp as we all know that the stories from day off usually make it back to camp before you do!
4. Being drunk on camp. Especially if you are underage – remember the legal drinking age in the USA is 21! By all means (if you are of age), go out on your day off, have a great time, have a few beers, enjoy your break from the kids, but when you return to camp, you need to be sober and ready to work. You cannot do this job with a foggy head – you can’t be responsible or act with caution when there’s alcohol in your system, so you are putting your kids in danger.
5. Getting arrested on your day off. This is a lot less likely than some of the others, but it does happen. Behave yourself. Be respectful of the people around you, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t normally do at home. Getting arrested will not only mean getting fired from camp, but you will also have your visa taken away from you, be sent home and probably have restrictions set on your ability to ever return to the USA.
6. Not living up to the expectations of your role. This one’s a bit tricky, as it probably wouldn’t be grounds for immediate dismissal, but more if you repeatedly had to be spoken to by your superiors about your attitude – you made too many mistakes, were rude, argumentative, unhelpful and generally disrespectful of your job and your camp over a longer period of time. In this case, your camp director might decide that perhaps you are just not meant to be a camp counselor, you can’t follow the rules set out for you , and therefore they don’t want you at camp anymore.