Counselor-in-Training Position

*June 20–August 26
Calendar Icon Monday–Friday
**Training: June 11-12
Clock Icon ***8 a.m.–6 p.m.


The Counselor-in-Training position is for high-energy teens who want to learn from others and have an interest in the natural world. This position works in our Conservation Camp, which serves campers in grades preK-4. Counselors-in-Training work alongside Camp Counselors and Camp Teen Volunteers to support the day-to-day running of the camp.
This is a paid position open to teens who have a genuine interest in working with elementary-aged children. Applicants should be responsible, flexible, and able to work in a dynamic team setting. They should also possess leadership skills — and most importantly, they should be fun!

Counselors-in-Training will work for an hourly rate, participate in weekly scheduled professional development sessions, and have access to a zoo professional through an In Your Shoes job shadow experience*. These teens are also provided with CPR/first aid and AED (automated external defibrillator) training at the zoo, get invited to Teen Bonding Nights, and receive mentorship from college-aged camp counselors with similar career/life goals.

The program does not run July 4.

* This is subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions.

** And one 6-hour weekend day for CPR/FIrst Aid training (Dates TBD)

*** (Shift times vary; all days are 7.5 hours with a 30-minute unpaid lunch)

More Information


To qualify, an applicant must:

  • Be entering grades 10-13.
  • Be 15-18 years old by June 11, 2022.
  • Be legally allowed to work in the United States.
  • Have proof of identity and authorization to work in the U.S., in accordance with federal law.
  • Be fully vaccinated (two or more doses) for COVID-19.

If hired, 15-year-old must obtain a student work permit. For more information, please contact your school or the Illinois Department of Labor.


Counselors-in-Training must be available for both days of training, which takes place June 11–12. When filled, this position must be able to attend a six-hour CPR/first aid and AED weekend training (dates TBA). If the employee is unable to attend CPR/first aid and AED training at the zoo, they are responsible for becoming certified on their own and at their own expense prior to June 11. Planned absences that do not occur during training, and which have been discussed with a supervisor, are possible. However, long absences (such as a week-long family vacation) may disqualify a candidate from the program, as they would miss too many events and activities. The tentative first day for this position is June 20. This first day can be adjusted to accommodate the last days of the school year.


The application for the 2022 season has closed. Please check back in February 2023 for next year’s application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I work with animals?

No. Counselors-in-Training do not work directly with animals. However, they will join camp groups as they roam throughout animal buildings and attend Keeper Chats.

Will there be an interview?

Yes, invited applicants will attend a group and individual interview on one day between April 12–14, 2022.

Can I apply for multiple teen programs?

Yes! Applicants can apply to every program simultaneously. Please note: Eligibility requirements vary between programs.

Will I be in charge of campers?

No. Camp teen volunteers play a supporting role to the camp instructors and will never be “in charge” of campers by themselves. They may have the opportunity to lead an activity, but they will never be left alone with a group of campers.

How will I know if I’ve been accepted?

We will contact all applicants via email by Friday, April 22 whether or not they have been selected for an interview.

Do I need to know a lot about animals beforehand?

No! Training is provided at the beginning of the program to introduce staff to the zoo and zoo animals.

How is the Counselor-in-Training position different from the Camp Teen Volunteer Position?

The Counselor-in-Training position is paid employment and requires a longer time commitment and more classroom responsibility.

Do I need to have Camp Teen Volunteer Experience to Apply?

No! You will receive training for the Counselor-in-Training position prior to the beginning of camp. Previous experience working with children, in any atmosphere, is a plus.

What types of job shadowing experiences are open to Counselors-in-Training?

There are a variety of exciting positions at the zoo that Counselors-in-Training can request for their shadowing experience, including jobs in the Communications, Marketing, Accounting, Learning, Horticulturist, Nutritionist, Scientist, and IT departments. This position will participate in a single shadowing session during their summer at the zoo. Unfortunately, for safety reasons, shadowing a zookeeper or veterinarian is not an option. Job shadowing availability may change depending on COVID-19 restrictions.