Life Working at a Summer Camp in Canada | My Job, Camp Food, Accommodation, Pay
Updated: Apr 27, 2019
I've spent the last 4 months working at a camp in Muskoka, Ontario in Canada during the spring outdoor education season and for 8 weeks of summer camp. This experience has been a unique, challenging and exciting adventure and one which will leave me with fond memories and lasting friendships.
What drew me to apply to work at a camp was that every person I talked to who had done Camp Canada/America had nothing but positive things to say about their experience. The camp culture that exists in North America is really unlike anything back home and is something awesome to be a part of.
You essentially live in a 'camp bubble' while working at camp which is a really interesting experience - you work, play, eat and live with your fellow co-workers meaning you get to know everyone pretty well! Although, life at camp can sometimes be isolating - my camp was located a $25 taxi ride out of town and the WIFI was limited most of the time which took a bit of getting used to - I learnt to embrace and really love the experience.
My camp was located in the region of Muskoka - cottage country 2-3 hours north of Toronto in Ontario. This area really comes alive in the spring and summer (this region is located in the Canadian Snow Belt and receives pretty extreme weather and long winters) so once the weather starts to warm up everyone is always outdoors and at their cottages enjoying the sunshine.
The town of Bracebridge was the closest town to my camp and is home to some great food spots I came to love and frequent when camp food got boring. The other AP staff and I became regulars at Chuck's Roadhouse and Momma Bear's Ice Cream!
The main street of Bracebridge, ON
My job for the past 4 months has been working as an Aerial Park Guide guiding participants through a tree canopy high ropes course and operating the 800ft-long over-water zip line. Some days when riding the zip line or just hanging out in the trees I really had to pinch myself that this was my job! The job was not without plenty of challenging moments like working with difficult children (and adults!), battling crazy amounts of bugs and learning to be able to assist and rescue participants of all sizes and shapes. It has been great to increase my fitness and upper-body strength and learn new unique skills like operating and inspecting a zip line, rescue procedures and belaying techniques.
But most importantly, I've been lucky enough to work with an awesome team of Canadian and international staff which have become more like family than co-workers over the last few months. It was definitely hard to say goodbye!
My Aerial Park Team
Hanging out in the trees
Hanging out in the trees
I spent my first two months at camp living in a small bunkie with 2 other girls and the last 2 months living in a tent with 3 other girls. At my camp, 4 counsellors sleep inside the cabin with the kids and the rest of the camp staff sleep in bunkies or tents. It was surprisingly comfortable and spacious living in a tent - there were bunk beds inside so we weren't sleeping on the ground. Only downside was a mouse that decided to pay us a visit in the middle of the night once and give us all a fright - but a bit of duct tape over the hole we found in the side of our tent seemed to do the trick and keep it out! I've definitely learnt that I can sleep through almost anything!
My camp home for the last 2 months!
My bunkie in the woods
While camp food traditionally has bad reputation, the food at my camp wasn't too bad. The quality was fairly good and they catered to me as a vegetarian really well - it was just the repetition of the same food on a rotating menu that I gradually got sick of!
Perogies for lunch!
My camp's slogan is: "Where friendships begin... and fun never ends!" and that really rang true for me. My camp had some pretty cool activities like scuba diving, fly boarding, mountain biking, horse riding, yoga, arts and crafts - and of course aerial park! I would spend my days off going out to eat with friends or catching a movie in town. We even did a trip to Canada's wonderland which was super fun.
Kayaking on the lake
My cabin group
It was only really once my time at Camp Muskoka drew to a close, that I fully grew to appreciate the value of this experience. While I'm excited for new adventures and future travels, I will always look back at my time at camp fondly and be grateful for the incredible experience.
I did get paid a salary for my time working at camp, but it wasn't any huge amount - pretty much enough to break even with the cost of flights, visa and spending money while at camp but my board, daily meals and laundry was included! That being said, the camp experience as a whole is really more about the 'outcome' than the 'income' and the pay was really just a nice bonus.
HOW I GOT MY JOB
I got the job at my camp by using an agency called CCUSA which places staff at camps all across Canada. However, if I were to do this again I would save myself the CCUSA application fees and just contact camps directly and submit and application myself.
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You can read my blog post here about my experience applying for a Canadian working holiday visa which allows me to work anywhere in Canada.
Check out the rest of my adventures in Canada here!