Long summer evening, burning fire, a good joke, and feeling of friendship. You keep an eye on children playing, and earn money for enjoying life…. Camp counselor seems like a wonderful occupation. It indeed is a great job, but not as easy as many people imagine, especially in YMCA camps. You will respond for up to twenty children, and they will expect more than your mere presence. They will expect your enthusiasm, involvement, but also your leadership and friendship.

And this is exactly what will be tested in your interview for this position: whether you have realistic expectations about the job, stamina–both physical and mental to be with children, and most importantly whether you have the right attitude to this job–and want actively contribute to the well-being of the children. Le’s have a look at some questions they will ask you.

group of children sitting on grass in line

Why do you want to work as a camp counselor?

Because you love summer, children, playing, and being outdoors. This is perhaps the real reason for your application, or you basically need to make some money, and decided to apply for this job (since it is better than anything else you can do in the summer).

But you should refer to other things in your interview–mostly your qualities, and experience which makes from you an excellent candidate for the position.

You can say that you are really good with children, that they enjoy spending time with you, that you have many ideas about activities you can do together with them. You can also say that children generally respect your leadership, and that you understand their needs and wants, and can make their time really enjoyable in the camp….


Tell us something about yourself.

Speak about things that matter for the job. Your leadership–and how you demonstrated it in a class, with your friends, or in your last summer job. Your responsibility–and how it is in display in school, in your family, or anywhere else.

You can also talk about your hobbies and leisure time activities, especially if you can use them in your work in the camp. Dancing, singing, playing an instrument, doing any sorts of sports, having some knowledge of forest and nature–all of that is great to mention. You can also emphasize your desire to work as a camp counselor.

* Do not forget to check also: What are your weaknesses? – Check some great answers to the dreaded interview questions.


How do you imagine a typical day in work?

This is one of the most important questions in your interview, and a bad answer can easily send you home. The key is to sat that you imagine being with the children (and responsible for both their safety and enjoyment) for 24 hours a day.

Obviously you will get some rest and sleep, but the key is to express clearly that you do not expect an easy ride, and know that you’ll have to be present, physically and mentally, most of the time.

Then obviously you can mention different activities you’ll do with the children and for them, such as playing, helping with organization of their daily program, with cooking, cleaning, etc.


What is your availability?

Some camps are short, but other can take a month or even more.  Be sure to check the job description carefully, and read as much as you can about the program (they probably advertise it somewhere for the parents, and you should be able to find enough information online).

Do your research, understand when they will need you, and for how long, and ensure them that you are up for the challenge. They should feel that you are motivated to do this work, and ready to sacrifice a part of your summer.

older children of different races playing outside

One boy in your group does not respect your orders, and he makes problems to other children. What will you do?

Some children will always make problems, and as a good counselor, you should know what to do in this case. Show your interviewers that you have a clear plan on how to address the situation. It can look like the following:

  • As a first step, I’ll have a one-on-one with them, explaining them the rules again, why their behavior is inappropriate, and how they have to change it.
  • If it doesn’t work, I’ll punish them, according to the rules of the camp (for example excluding them from some common activities).
  • If that doesn’t work, I’ll contact their parents and try to address the situation with them. And if even that doesn’t help, we may send the boy back home.

Special Tip: Download the entire list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

camp counselor interview questions, PDF

Imagine you were very tired but children still want to play in the evening. What would you do?

Another situational question. You can start by saying that it is unlikely to happen, since you have a lot of energy, and would not apply for this job unless you were sure you’d endure doing the activities from morning to evening.

Then you can say that you are in the camp for the children, and if the rules allowed some games in the evening, you’d try your best to get some extra energy, or ask another counselor to help you to go on. On the other hand, you should maintain your authority (and authority of other camp members) and if there’s a lights-out hour, you’ll respect that and will expect the same from the children.

* May also interest you: What motivates you the most in work?


Imagine that one of the girl you supervised, five years younger than you, fell in love with you during the duration of a camp. What would you do?

This is a pretty common situation. Luckily, though often emotional about their platonic love affairs, young girls and boys can get over these things quickly. They will find new object of love or admiration once the camp is over.

In an interview you should demonstrate the right attitude to this situation, and that’s a very clear one: that regardless of age difference (even if there’s none), you won’t start any relationship with the children you respond for. You won’t have time and options to devote your attention to one of the children only, and it is simply against the official rules… You are in the camp to work, not to find new boyfriend/girlfriend.

Obviously, these things happen in a camp, and we can not rule them out, and it may happen that you will find a new love. Once in an interview, however, you should show the right attitude.


Other questions you may get in your summer camp counselor interview

  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What would you do if you suddenly realized that one of the children was missing from your group?
  • What are your favorite activities to do with the children?
  • How do you feel about cooking, or cleaning toilets?
  • Tell us more about your past working/volunteering experience?
  • What do you think is a main goal of our camp?
  • How do you define success?
  • What do you consider the most difficult aspect of this job?
  • Do you have any questions?


Summary and next steps

Interview for a job of a camp counselor does not belong to difficult interviews. They may use some tricky questions, and put you under pressure, but they won’t expect perfect interview answers, and they won’t be too picky in their selection of new employees for the summer camp. This applies to YMCA camps as well as summer camps ran by any other organization.

Once you manage to show right motivation, enthusiasm, and understanding for the job (for both good and bad things it brings), they will hire you. Continue your interview preparation with the following reading:

Matthew Chulaw
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