Tipping Summer Camp Counselors

It's end of summer and what do you do when it comes to saying farewell to the counselors that kept your little tots busy & happy all summer long. This article offers advice on tipping summer camp counselors from neighborhood parents.

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 All camps are different, but here are some thoughts pulled from past posts & previous discussions across the PSP group.


- Some camps provide guidelines for tips, others do not. Ask the director for thoughts about tipping as well as to find out which counselors spend the most time with your children and tip accordingly.

- Generally the longer your child goes to camp, the higher the tip.

- Head counselors have more responsibilities and are generally tipped more. That said, special counselors who take more time should be rewarded for their work.

- A nice card (made by your child) is a good way to teach your kids that appreciating people is a good thing.

- If there are specialists (art, drama, sports, etc) you might want to recognize these folks too.

- Some camps have salaried counselors, while others work on a low hourly wage.


Either way, tips are always appreciated but not required. As one letter from the past said, "please remember that while tipping and tip amounts are only suggested, our staff relies heavily on the generosity of our camp families to supplement their summer income."


Tips on Tipping from PSP Members:


"You should first look in the camp policies - many camps have a no-tipping policy. For those places it is best to tip the favorite Counselors something other than money, like a nice letter from your kid.  If the materials do not state a tipping policy, then you can tip and depending on the camp it may well be expected. You can always call the director of the camp to see what is historically done.  Some camps that encourage tipping list the recommended amounts in their policies."


"Please tip the teens! These kids work long hours, harder than I do (in my air conditioned office), staying cheerful despite their own teen dramas and young ornery charges (I couldn't handle a flock of little ones, every day), and SOOOO many parents expect extra services ("you can take responsibility for watching my kid until the camp bus comes, right? I gotta run") - but don't pay for this babysitting help, and never tip."


"My son is a junior counselor at a local day camp and this is his experience:  At the end of the summer the camp administrator distributes tip money that has been contributed by parents.  Some counselors work all summer, others may work a few weeks so I assume the administrator gives out the money I an equitable way according to how many weeks they have worked and this also avoids a popularity contest between the counselors.  The counselors don’t expect anything in particular but certainly appreciate a little extra money at the end of the summer.  I don’t think anyone should feel like they have to tip – it’s completely optional.  I can say in my son’s case that keeping a bunch of little kids excited and happy while also calm and safe is hard, hard, work.  He comes home exhausted.    But at his age he is lucky to have a job and to be paid anything at all."


Rates, 2017:


  • "I went with $15 for the 3 counselors and $25 for the supervisor and thank you notes for all of them. My son was at the camp for 3 weeks. Hope this helps!"
  • "I would say $15-$20 each, maybe less for the cit and more for the head counselor. I just give all the same bc thy are all ensuring a great time our kids but that's just me. I also find my 6 year old attaching herself to the more junior counselors anyways."
  • "Head counselor $25-$50
    Counselor $15
    CIT $10
    Bus Driver $10
    Bus Counselor $10."


Rates and ideas, previous years:


  • "One camp suggested for a 6 week camp $30-50 for head counselors and $20-30 for assistant counselors."
  • "When my older daughter went to a local Park Slope day camp, they sent home a memo with suggested tip amounts and counselor names for each group. Some might consider this tacky, but I found it extremely helpful. The counselors were terrific, and I wanted to do the right thing. They of course said that tipping was not required, and that each family should give what they could comfortably afford. If memory serves, we gave the head counselor $40 and the assistant counselors $20 each. The cash went in cards, which we handed out on the last day. I am sure that not everyone tipped, and that many gave less than the suggested amounts. I have also heard of people giving Starbucks or iTunes gift cards. Whatever you give will be appreciated."
  • "We always tip the counselors on the last day of camp.  My kids have been going for 3 years now.   I usually get a card for each counselor who takes care of my kids (often 3 counselors for each kid).  I write a thank you on one side and have my child write a thank you on the other side of the card.  We usually enclose $20-30 for each counselor.  We tip our day care teachers, so I consider this similar.  I feel like these people are some of the most important in our lives, since they are taking care of the most important thing in my life.  And they are generally not well paid, so although it is financially an extra burden after paying for an expensive camp, it just makes sense to me to acknowledge and thank them and give them a financial gift. One year I also tipped a supervisor because he went above and beyond making sure my child had a smooth transition to camp in year one."