Camp Director  What They Do

Just the Facts

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dotCamp 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 administrative matters.

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.

At a Glance

Be the administrator for the camp

  • The physical requirements of the job can be considerable
  • Unlike counselors who take care of the kids, camp directors have lots of administrative work
  • First aid training is a must