A young boy at an Iowa summer camp learning to use a bow and arrow.

Join our Team

Summer Camp Positions

Working at summer camp is exhausting and messy and difficult and wonderful and the most rewarding thing you could possibly do with your summer. Every year, hundreds of kids come to Camp Bear Creek to escape the ordinary of everyday life. They leave behind the pressure of school and athletics and music and performance and they find a place where they can be truly and authentically themselves. A place where fireflies flicker in the dark, where it’s okay to be muddy and messy, and where new friends turn into lifelong relationships. A place where God feels closer than ever before and the world feels a little brighter and a little more beautiful. This is Camp Bear Creek.

We aren’t going to lie, working at summer camp isn’t always easy. We work in the heat and the rain. We have early mornings and late nights. Sometimes kids get homesick. Sometimes the fire just doesn’t want to start. But in the midst of it all, we never forget why we do what we do. This is a place where, for just one week, kids escape the ordinary and find something extraordinary. In one week, a life can change. A heart can grow. A soul can find peace. In one week, you can make all the difference in the world.

Wondering where you fit on the Camp Bear Creek Team?

Some of the best people you’ll ever meet will be right here at camp. You don’t need to be a camping expert to work at a summer camp. Kayaking, archery, fire building…those things can all be taught. We are looking for people who have a passion for working with kids, can serve as positive role models, are ready to step up as leaders, and don’t mind spending a summer in the woods! Check out the available positions and prayerfully consider if a summer at Camp Bear Creek is right for you.

A girl in a kayak at an Iowa summer camp.

Lead by example. Serve with humility.

We hire two Unit Directors (UDs) each summer who are responsible for supervising staff in their unit each week, creating food orders and organizing cookouts, running evening programs, evaluating and coaching staff throughout the summer, assisting with homesick and difficult campers, and serving as part of the Leadership Team. The best Unit Directors are flexible, confident, encouraging, and humble.

Teaching, Training, and Helping Others

We hire two Leadership Development Coordinators (LDCs) each summer who are responsible for planning and implementing the Counselors-in-Training curriculum, serving as the CIT counselors, providing specialized activity leadership, supporting and training volunteers, overseeing Activity Hour, and serving as part of the Leadership Team.

A group of kids posing for a picture in a bunk room at summer camp in Iowa.

When we ask kids what they love about camp, their number one answer is their counselors.

We hire twenty Cabin Counselors who supervise groups of 12 campers with a co-counselor. Cabin Counselors are responsible for planning the daily schedule, leading most activities and Bible studies, and participating in evening programs and worships. Each week, counselors oversee a different group of campers, gaining experience in a variety of ages and programs before the summer’s end.

Challenge. Adventure. Stepping out of your comfort zone to soar.

We hire two High Ropes Specialists every summer who are responsible for ensuring the safe and fun operation of our high ropes course and racing zip lines. Guide groups to challenge themselves and face their fears, all while knowing they are safe to take the leap or reach for that next rock. Our High Ropes Specialists will also assist with other specialized activities at camp such as archery, water activities, rocket launching, team building, and more.

A person standing in a field with sparklers during summer camp in Iowa.

Telling the story of camp through photo and video

We hire one Media Intern who is responsible for camp photography and videography, maintaining our website photo gallery, updating social media accounts, and designing weekly summary videos and newsletters. By the end of summer, you’ll have a wealth of material for your portfolio and experience for whatever you want to pursue next. This job can be used to fulfill college internship credit, and is a paid internship.

A counselor at an Iowa summer camp posing for a picture.

It’s the people doing the work behind the scenes that make the show so spectacular.

We hire three Kitchen Assistants. They serve in the kitchen (washing dishes, helping with basic food preparation, and cleaning the dining hall) as well as helping throughout the program (helping set up worships and special programs, assisting in leading groups and games, and serving as a junior counselor for a few weeks a summer). Applicants must be graduating high school seniors or older. Half-summer contracts are available for this position only.

We’re a small team, but after just a few days, we will feel like family. Your summer will be filled with activity – from swimming to high ropes to lazy afternoon tube floats down the river. Camp gives you a chance to be a leader and advance into leadership roles, to engage in daily problem solving, to plan schedules, teach curriculum, and work as part of a team that includes staff from across the US and even other parts of the world. These soft skills are necessary in almost any workplace. We are also more than willing to work with you to ensure that this job can be used for internship or practicum credit for all applicable majors (think education, public health, recreation, leisure and youth services, counseling, wellness, psychology, and a host of other programs).

Summer Staff FAQs

If you’re looking for more information, check out our frequently asked questions below or contact our Program Director, Jake, by email at jake@bearcreek.camp or by phone at (563) 488-3893.

Salaries for summer staff are based on position, years post high-school, and relevant certifications or experience. For a breakdown of our salary schedule for summer staff, click here. If you still have questions, reach out to Jake, our Program Director, at jake@bearcreek.camp and he can walk you through how to determine your salary for the summer.

We are 380 acres of forest nestled in the midst of Eastern Iowa farmland. Our site is just a few miles outside of a town called Wyoming, Iowa, and centrally located within an hour’s drive of Dubuque, Davenport, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. At Camp Bear Creek, you’ll find steep bluffs and sprawling meadows, towering trees and berry bushes, wandering trails and gravel roads. Our namesake, Bear Creek, meanders through the site, and campers enjoy kayaking and corcl boats out on Frog Pond. Hike across the swinging bridge to reach Horsethief Cave or sit and observe the wildlife like deer, turkey, and raccoons. We are a little sanctuary right here among the rolling hills of Eastern Iowa.

Contract dates for summer staff are May 19 – August 4, 2024 with additional opportunities for employment after the summer season ends. All staff receive a week off June 30 – July 6, 2024.

We only get ten weeks to train, learn, and live out our summer camp ministry each year. Staff who are hired are expected to commit to the entirety of the ten week contract. Of course, we do recognize that certain circumstances may arise such as family emergencies, college orientation, weddings, or illness that require staff to miss one or two days of work, and we will coordinate with each person on an individual basis when and if those situations occur. Please bring up an anticipated absences in your interview so we can discuss whether they are possible during a summer season. High school staff filling the Kitchen Assistant role have the option to work a half or full summer contract.

At Camp Bear Creek, our program is designed to help kids grow in their faith, live in the moment, have fun, connect with nature, make friends, and be their authentic selves. Every part of the camp day, from meals to activities to worship to color wars, is designed to intentionally foster community and faith. We begin our summer with two weeks of staff training. This is where you will learn how to lead activities, how to counsel homesick campers, how to build a fire, and how to do anything and everything at camp. By the end of those two weeks, we are ready and excited for our first group of campers to arrive! Our camper programing (which runs Sunday to Friday) begins with two weeks of what we call TTT (Tri-T) Camp. This is a program for under-privilege 4th grade girls. The goal is to build their confidence, self-esteem, and teach them that they are valuable and capable no matter where or what they come from. After TTT Camp, we launch into five weeks of our traditional, co-ed programming with campers ranging in age from five to seventeen. Counselors get a new group of kids each week, which gives them experience working with a wide variety of ages, skill levels, and activities. We encourage you to look at our Day in the Life page to see what a typical day at camp might look like!

All of our staff stay in cabins. The cabins have eight bunk beds (sleeping up to sixteen people). They are air conditioned, and bathrooms are a short walk away at a nearby lodge. Staff and campers stay in cabins together. There are other staff-only spaces at camp. We have a staff office where you can keep belongings, get mail, and sit to plan schedules or activities. We also have a staff lounge. This includes a kitchen and space for you to keep food and snacks, shared laundry facilities, and a hang out area with couches and smart TV for streaming. Wifi is available in the staff lounge.

This past year, at the conclusion of summer camp, we asked parents what their kids talked about most when they picked them up from camp. The number one answer, far and above any activity or experience, was the staff. Kids are drawn to camp because of the things they can do and the fun they can have, but when all is said and done, what they remember and treasure the most are the relationships.

Being a kid can be rough. Everyone is bigger than you. Everyone seems to know more, and they tell you all the time, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” Studies have shown that an important part of faith development for any child is building strong relationships with adults who are willing to model and talk about faith. When a child comes to camp, they look at their counselor and immediately think, “This person is so cool.” And when you, as their counselor, sit down with them at dinner and ask about their day or help them overcome their fear of kayaking or take the time to listen to their questions during Bible study, you communicate that you, the cool person, find them valuable. You care about them, about who they are, about whatever joys and concerns they bring to the table. It is an invaluable part of the summer camp experience, and it is the thing kids are most likely to tell their parents about when they get home.

It does place a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of our staff. However, it also offers an opportunity that you will find almost nowhere else. In just six days, you can build a life-changing relationship with a child. Through conversation, laughter, experience, and honesty, you can help to build their faith, their perspective of the world, and their desire to live and be a part of the Christian life. Many of them will look at you and think, “I want to be a counselor when I grow up.”

Our summer staff define Camp Bear Creek for the kids who come. The energy and enthusiasm that you bring to the activities and programs offered will inspire them. It is probably one of the most meaningful and impactful jobs you can ever have, and its impact will continue long after you’ve moved on. You will make an indefinable difference in the lives of hundreds of kids.

Of course, other than the impact you will make, there are many reasons why you should work at camp. We work hard to offer an environment that supports the emotional, mental, and spiritual growth of each and every staff member. We want you to leave a summer at Bear Creek stronger, more empathetic, and further on your own spiritual journey. 

During a typical week, campers will arrive on Sunday afternoon at 3:00pm and they’ll stay until Friday afternoon at 3:00pm. Staff arrive on Sundays (depending on your position) between 12:00pm and 1:00pm for meetings and prep time before the week begins. On Friday, after the kids leave, the entire staff works together to clean the camp and prepare the site for the next round of campers. We have a short meeting, and then we close in prayer. Our goal is always to finish on Fridays around 6:00pm. This gives you Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning off. In addition to that, during the week (Monday-Thursday), each staff member gets two hours off per day.

First, let us share that this is a camp. You’ll stay in a cabin and sleep in a sleeping bag. There will be spiders and mice and deer and turkeys and raccoons and bugs who live at this camp, too. You’ll spend most of your days outside, rain or shine. Maybe you’ve done a lot of a camping in your life, or maybe this will all be new to you, but don’t worry. During staff training, you’ll learn how to start a fire and how to cook meals over that fire. You’ll learn how to paddle a kayak and fasten a lifejacket, how to shoot a bow and arrow, and how to set up a tent. You’ll learn what “creek stomping” is. You’ll crawl through a cave. When people think of camp, they usually think of these things, and you’ll experience all of it.

Second, camp is a unique place for fostering community. You might be an introvert or an extrovert. You might have come every summer, or never stepped food here before. It doesn’t matter. Over the course of 10 weeks, you’ll form a bond with the staff community that is all your own. They’ll laugh with you when you tell your mud slide story, pray for you when you’re stressed, and give you advice when you need it. Day in and day out, you’ll spend all of your days together, doing ministry, caring for kids, and living life.

Third, this is a very active job. You’re always on the move, spending our days doing team building, archery, kayaking, arts & crafts, and so much more. Every week, you’ll get a new group of campers. One week, you might work with first and second graders, and the next week, you might work with high school kids. You’ll work with different co-counselors and volunteers. Every week will be different.

Fourth, this can be a stressful job. There will be weeks when you have that camper who just won’t seem to listen. Someone on staff will rub you the wrong way. Storms might mess with your schedule or you might try a new game that completely flops. You’ll have to clean, plan, and sometimes participate in activities that might not be your favorite. Every moment of every day is not going to be exciting, creative, new, and fun. However, this is a place where you will get to dive into God’s word with kids and watch their eyes lights up as they learn something they never knew about God. This is a place where you can stare up at the night sky and hear “the heavens declaring the glory of God.” This is a place where lives change, and we don’t just mean the campers. This is ministry. It’s messy. It’s hard. It’s crazy. And it’s so much fun. Pray about it. Is this where God wants you to be this summer?

The kids who come to camp mainly live in Eastern Iowa. Some come from farther away, but most of them come from the closest surrounding cities (Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and the Quad Cities) and hundreds of small towns scattered around the camp. You’ll meet farm kids and city kids. You’ll meet kids who have been coming to camp for years and kids who will be leaving home for the first time. They’ll range in ages from entering first grade all the way to recent graduates in high school.

You’ll meet kids who are Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, non-denominational, and everything in between. Some kids may not attend church at all. They vary in their Biblical knowledge, interest, and comfort level when it comes to talking about God.

When we approach Bible study and worship, we think of the child that has never opened a Bible before. This might be the only week of the entire year that they are surrounded by a Christian community with regular Bible teaching. So, if they are here at camp, and they might never have this chance again, what do we want them to know? We want every child to leave knowing how much God loves them, cares for them, and desires to be part of their lives. We want them to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. If that is all they hear, that is enough.

The kids coming here will also come with their own baggage: a parent’s divorce or a move to a new school or the death of a loved one. They might come with friends, but more often, they come by themselves, hoping that during the week they are here, they will make friends and be accepted into the camp community. Hundreds of kids will come through the gates at camp during any given summer, but we want each kid to feel important, valued, loved, and cared for while they are here.

Advice From Former Staff

Wondering what former team members have to say about Camp Bear Creek?

“Your limits are not what you think they are. This job is not going to just be fun. It’s going to challenge you spiritually and emotionally. People often say, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” It’s something that really happens, and you’ll learn that you can do so much more than you ever thought possible. There’s no better way to learn about leadership than by working on a camp staff.”

“This may be the only time in your life that you will be in God’s creation literally 24/7. You’re going to be surrounded by the majesty of nature, from towering trees to fragile flowers, from the drone of cicadas and the chirping of birds, from the brilliant sunrises and star-studded night skies. All of this will be your home. Now that I’m away, I miss it every day. Cherish it.”

“Take in every moment of camp. The summer will be over before you know it. Ten weeks sounds like a long time, but really, you’re going to blink, and the time will be gone. You will make some of the best friends and develop relationships that will last the rest of your life. You will meet some of the sweetest children who just want to spend time with you, have fun, and learn about God. It goes so fast, and every part is worth it! Summer camp doesn’t last forever.” 

“Enjoy every single day with the kids no matter what. Think about it: these kids are traveling away from home to spend a week with you. They’re excited, they’re nervous, they want an adventure! Every single moment you have with a child is a special one, and there will never be a better time or place to share Jesus with them.”

“You can never have enough socks…ever.  Walking in the morning dew or the rain, going creek stomping, accidentally stepping into the pond while bringing in a kayak…these things happen, so it’s good to have lots of extra socks (and shoes) so you’re not walking around with wet feet all the time.”

“Spend time each day praying for the campers and other staff. These people are going to be part of your life for ten weeks. They come from all different backgrounds, lives, and experiences. They carry their own baggage, their own fears, and their own expectations. Pray for them. Ask God to meet them. Ask God to show you how you can minister to them. Pray for them every day. And then watch God work.”

“You’re not there just for you. You’re there for the campers who look up to you and follow your leadership for that week. You’re there to build relationships and walk with your co-counselors and fellow staff members. You’re there to follow God and the call to serve. It’s such an amazing opportunity and experience, so take it while you can. No matter your reason, it’s going to be the best summer of your life.”

“Expect to grow up at camp (in a good way). When I hear people talk about camp I hear them talk about 2 things always. They learn more than they ever expected to and the impact on their life was far greater than they could have imagined. Camp makes people grow as a person to make decisions, build relationships, and especially learn about Christ.”

“Don’t be afraid of the challenge. At first, it will all be overwhelming. You are responsible for so much at camp. However, you can do it. Don’t be afraid to make decisions in the moment, to step up and lead. You won’t feel prepared at first, but try. Fake it until you’re ready, and you’ll be amazing. If you can learn to face any challenge like that, you’ll be prepared for all of life.”

“Your attitude matters. Sometimes the kids will complain about doing an activity, but when they see you out there having fun, they’ll want to join in, and at the end of the week, they’ll be telling you about how it was their favorite part of camp.”

“Allow yourself to be transformed and to transform others. By mid-September, you’ll look back and wonder where all the time went. But even when you aren’t at camp, you’ll have the memories. Those memories will include lifelong friendships with the staff, hilarious stories and games, and a trust that you helped many others along their faith journey. So do yourself a favor and live in the moment this summer. You’ll be all the better for it for the rest of your life.”

“Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself or the situation and just move on. Camp can require you to do some pretty funny things: dress up in a dog costume, shout loud, obnoxious cheers for your cabin, dump over in your canoe—and you’ve got to be willing to laugh at yourself. The kids love it when you interact with them and show them that you’re a real person. Be silly. Admit when you mess up. Laugh. Move on.”

“Jump into every new experience or uncomfortable situation with positivity and smiles. Smiling will encourage yourself and others. Did you know that smiling is actually proven to make you less nervous? You are capable of growing and adapting, and you will do things you never thought you could do. From cleaning up after a camper wets the bed to zip-lining, you’ll do a lot of new things and it’s best to jump in head first.”

“Relax and just breathe. Sometimes you’ll be tired, you’ll say something you shouldn’t, you’ll work with an age group that really challenges you…but God’s grace will pull you through it every time. Don’t be afraid to lean on your co-workers, either. They’re some of the best people you’ll ever meet, and they’ll understand. Take your time, and have fun!”

“Coworkers = family. You learn to live with them and learn to love them. That being said there is going to be someone you may not see eye to eye with. Work through your disagreements. Reach out to the people who are hurting or struggling. Take care of your family.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Camp provides you with an amazing support system, so reach out when you need to. Also don’t be afraid to act silly and try new things. It’ll make each day more fun and more memorable. The best part is, you’ll be learning a lot about yourself and God all summer. Enjoy it and keep an open mind!”

“Not everyone at camp is the typical “camp person.” When coming to camp for the first time, I imagined everyone to be overly-excited, creative, and great with children. Camp attracts all sorts of people, they all have their own awesome qualities, and you have to be ready to work with all of them. After all, it’s the people that make camp great.”

“Camp will change your life. It will change the way you view the world, the people around you, and yourself. You’ll learn that though the days are long, the reward is great and the people you will spend every moment with are unlike any other. Embrace every second and give every camper your all. You will never regret it.”

“Live in the present; be present with those around you. You might miss home, family, friends. That is normal. Use weekends and time off to send emails, make phone calls, FaceTime, and use social media to your heart’s content, but when it’s not the time to be doing those things, do what you’re there for. Be the best counselor you can. Make friends with your co-workers. Laugh, have fun, and be present in the present.”

Ready to work for us?

We promise that a Summer at Camp Bear Creek will be filled with memories, fun, and life-change. Come join us!

A group of people at a summer camp in Iowa posing for a photo.