Frequently Asked Questions about counselor duties
- What is a counselor's typical day like?
- What is the weekly work schedule like?
- What is counselor training like?
- What are some examples of tasks could I be given on a typical day?
- What types of recreational activities will I be expected to lead with the campers?
- What is English class like at your camps?
- What do counselors generally do on their days off?
- What if I really want to travel while in Europe?
What is a counselor's typical day like?
Please read A Typical Day at Camp. This is your typical day. Counselors rotate through responsibilities in order to create a seamless day for the kids (no waiting around waiting for each activity to start, which is a common source of behavioral problems).
What is the weekly work schedule like?
Camps last between 4 and 13 days. The schedule varies during the year. When a counselor is hired, s/he must be available for every single day of the dates committed to. That does not mean, however, that s/he works every day.
- Counselors always have at least one day off per week. In France, this is called repos hebdomadaire, and it is imposed by the state. That is why the montly salary is based on a 26 day working month. We cannot allow you to work more.
- Once at camp, the counselors are informed of their schedule for the next 3 weeks by their site director. This allows them to see which days camp will be in session.
- When a camp lasts longer than 6 days, counselors rotate through days off during the camp session. When there are breaks between camps (1 or 2 days), counselors are also often off.
- Counselors housing and meals are still covered on days off.
What is counselor training like?
The Counselor Handbook is required reading before employment. It clearly outlines staff policies, cultural differences, pedagogical goals, and some childcare know-how (child development, communication, discipline, etc).
Once at camp, the site director, head language counselor, and veteran counselors help new counselors better understand their role and duties as a counselor. Your team will work together to plan the program, to establish rules for the campers, to set up camp materials, and also share camp ideas - like cheers, games, and teaching tips!
Counselors should arrive to camp enthusiastic, well-rested and ready to work!
What are some examples of tasks could I be given on a typical day?
- telling a campfire story or building an obstacle course,
- supervising campers,
- distibuting snacks,
- leading English class,
- creating visual aids: writing song lyrics on a poster, making a vocabulary sign for the General Store, selecting a karaoke video...
- brainstorming skits in a team meeting,
- checking first aid kids before a hike,
- serving campers at meal time,
- lending an ear to a homesick camper & hanging out with kids during downtime,
- taking pictures for the parent blog,
- making a camp shopping list for the director,
... basic camp stuff!
What types of recreational activities will I be expected to lead with the campers?
Every day you will organize fun recreational sports, large scale games, teambuilding challenges, or manual activities for the campers... all in English. You can introduce activities that you have already done at your other childcare jobs in the USA / UK, like capture the flag or acting out stories in front of a campfire. One approach is to think simply about what the kids would like to do, then imagine how to organize it using a maximum of English, inserting target vocabulary from that day's theme. Counselors also lead a daily variety show that is at the heart of American Village: it makes practicing English interactive and fun! Song, dance, skits, costumes, challenges... you name it, its possible!
What is English class like at your camps?
Every morning, half the language counselors prepare and lead 2 dynamic English classes that focus on spoken language. The classes are comprised of 15 - 18 campers, divided by approximate level. Language counselors can rotate through who is teaching from session to session - everyone is hired to do the same job.
We always keep in mind that people learn differently - by combining visual aids, kinestetic/kinaesthetic learning (movement), AND spoken English, we facilitate learning for the campers under our care. There are no grades, no tests and no candy reward systems in our English classes. Our goal is to lead classes that motivate campers to speak English during the rest of the day.
What do counselors generally do on their days off?
Many counselors spend their days off exploring the surrounding region with other counselors, while some choose to spend their time resting at camp or catching up with friends and family back home.
Just like at most American camps, our sites are located in rural areas so your transportation options will be limited. Many are within walking distance of a small town, and some within walking distance to a local bus line. If your travel plans include club-hopping until 5am every night, this is not the international job for you. Our counselors must be prepared and excited to spend some time in natural, small town areas of France. Many come to love the local traditions, foods, wines, and people near the villages!
What if I really want to travel while in Europe?
We encourage counselors to plan some travel time before and/or after their work commitments at camp in order to visit Paris and other beautiful cities in Europe! When we make a hire, we are counting on you to be on camp every day during which you have been hired. While you will not work 7 days a week, your schedule will be built around when children are present. As you have already read, those exact days of the week can vary from session to session, from site to site.