Camp directors try to ensure that every child in their care comes away
from the camp experience with new friends, fond memories and a smile. They
oversee every aspect of camp. That means they often get credited when things
go right, but they are also held responsible when things go wrong.
"I help kids feel good about themselves," says Lance Barrs. He is the camp
director of a hockey camp. "If kids aren't good at hockey, there are many
other activities kids experience success with."
Camp directors work at many different kinds of camps. In addition to traditional
summer camps, there are specialty camps. These include religious camps, academic
camps, sports camps, weight loss camps and almost anything else you can think
of. Some camps are residential, while others are day camps.
Carolyn Daly is the camp director for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation.
She says working with children who have cancer and siblings of children with
cancer is what makes her job so rewarding. "Because I work for such a special
needs camp, I'm involved with things like taking kids to the doctor and just
talking to them if they're having a rough day," she says.
Sometimes, camp directors may have to make a special effort to get to know
campers because they have so many responsibilities. Unlike counselors, whose
main duty is to take care of the campers, directors are often involved with
Here are some of the things they do:
- Prepare budgets, deciding how much money is divided into areas such as
wages, activities and food costs
- Program new ideas for activities such as games and crafts -- good camp
directors ask for creative input from many sources
- Hire and evaluate staff, ensuring the staff is trained sufficiently to
carry out duties
- Take charge of safety situations -- camp directors must remain calm in
emergencies and know the procedures they must follow
"I do quite a bit of paperwork in my office," Barrs says. "I try to make
it down to the water to play with the kids, but there's so much to do. I'm
the bottom-line guy."
One situation camp directors often encounter is homesickness. Ken Robinson
is a camp director in Montana. He says the problem is common in the first
week or two of camp. "We usually convince the kids to stay. By the end of
the camp, they don't want to leave," he says.
Camp directors often work long hours, staying until their job is done.
If camps are residential, directors sometimes find it hard to separate their
work and personal lives. "I work 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week,"
Barrs says. "And if someone's sick at night and no one can take them to the
hospital, you have to do it."
The physical requirements of the job can be considerable if one plans to
take part in activities. "If you want to keep up with any of the kids on the
climbing wall or in the swimming pool, you have to be in shape," Daly says.