Happy sleepy campers, counselor, and youth leader after swim day at Tilden Outdoor Camp in Berkeley

Youth Leadership – Helping Out at Camp!

A counselor in training, in a green Monkey Business Camp hoodie, with four campers

“His confidence, sense of responsibility and empathy have all grown tremendously with this experience–and, most importantly, he loves it!”

Youth Leaders are very important members of our community.  They bring caring, playful, and energetic vibe to co-create and assist in making magic and fun that makes each camp unforgettable for the campers, other youth leaders, and staff team. Most of our current staff were former youth leaders.


  • This is a training program that provides practical experience for beginners to the camp/recreation professions. Young people, ages 11-17, receive coaching and practice leadership during their time at camp.
  • First step to join program is to fill out an interest survey (find links below) and email our office once you have submitted. We usually have an answer within a week, or sooner if closer to camp start.
  • Do families pay tuition or are youth leaders paid? Yes, families pay tuition to participate, with financial aid options, or starting at age 13, reduced fees possible (request on youth leader interest survey).  These positions can lead to paid staff positions, in fact about 80% of our current staff summer team were former youth leaders.
  • Do kids have to be there each day?  A youth leader’s schedule matches staff requirements, to attend all hours, unless sick, injury or emergency, as it is a training program for becoming camp counselor.  Please choose a session where this will be possible.
  • Limited spaces for each session of camp, about 3/group, and we usually have between 2-4 groups only, more in summer, less for school breaks.  There are maximum 15 spaces each session, so this program fills more quickly than others.
  • How long should my child attend in the summer?  For new CITs, usually 3 weeks is a maximum, perhaps 4; for return youth leaders or those who were former campers in Tilden, usually 6 weeks.


  • genuinely enjoy playing with younger kids and want to help create a fun, safe, and magical camp experience, as they once received at our or another camp.
  • love the camp environment & the outdoors. “It’s a lot of fun!”
  • have very good social emotional and group dynamic skills. Monkey Business Camp values a culture of kindness, with a fun and respectful environment for all.
  • willing to dedicate part of their vacation to giving back, putting camper needs ahead of their own, being a role model, and in general being of service.
  • may want to join our paid staff team, as consistent attendance and growing into leadership and camp skills plays a large factor in this possibility.


  • CIT stands for Counselor in Training and this is the first step in our youth leadership program. CITs can be as young as 11, and most have been former campers with us.  Occasionally there is someone new to our camp, for example, they moved here from another location.
  • JC stands for Junior Counselor and this is the second step in our youth leadership, before paid staff positions. Junior Counselors must be at least 14 years of age and have been a CIT in our program with good reviews.
  • If new to our camp, and even if age 14 or older, youth leaders start off as CITs.
  • Older CITs can request reduced pricing in the interest survey, especially if they have a lot of experience at ours or other camps.

“Participating as a counselor-in-training at Monkey Business for the past 3 years has truly been one of the most meaningful experiences of my child’s life.  We’ve been driving all the way from Los Angeles and renting an air b and b for the experience.”


  • Some 11 year olds choose to remain campers and that usually works, as long as they know they will be the oldest camper, and can enjoy that role, with option to help out here and there.
  • We have found it is important for youth to want to do this, not it only be something parents want for their kids.
  • During summer programs, we offer an in-person orientation in May, and weekly team meetings; for school break, a 1st morning intro meeting. For all programs, we have a Youth Leader Handbook with review questions required once a year.
  • Youth leaders are vital to  our program and often become staff. In fact, over 80% of our staff team were former Youth Leaders who regularly participated. It takes time to learn about helping out, and being professional in a workplace. Doing well in a training program is a great way to cultivate skills and build a resume, which makes one more eligible for jobs in the world of paid work.
  • Some parents have used savings in tuition for the older youth leaders to give their kids who have volunteered a stipend at the end of their service to camp.

TO APPLY: First step is to fill out a youth leader survey-click below, depending on which program applying for and if you are new or return (if your child has been a camper with us, start with the new youth leader survey). Second step, please e-mail our office to let us know you have filled out, and then we will be in touch.  We want you to have an answer quickly, and will touch base with you within a week, usually, to let you know if accepted or where things are at. At times things get busy, so reach out as needed.

  • SCHOOL BREAK CAMP 2024-2025 (links will be activated when the next season opens)

“Monkey Business is an excellent camp. My son has been attending since he was eight years old and in the last couple of years he began the CIT program. Watching him develop leadership skills in addition to experiencing enriching activities has been a wonderful combination! The staff at Monkey Business is caring and professional and they have provided fabulous mentorship for him.”