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 is based in our Conservation Camp, which serves campers in grades preK–5. 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 two In Your Shoes job shadow experiences**. These teens are also provided with CPR/first aid and AED (automated external defibrillator) training at the zoo***. They are invited to Teen Bonding Nights and receive mentorship from college-aged camp counselors with similar career/life goals.
The program does not run July 3–7, 2023.
* (Shift times vary; all days are 7.5 hours with a 30-minute unpaid lunch).
** This is subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions.
*** And one six-hour weekend day for CPR/First Aid training (dates TBD).
To qualify, an applicant must:
- Be entering grades 10-13.
- Be 15-18 years old by June 12, 2023.
- 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 take place June 3–4. The person filling 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 12. 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 12. This first day can be adjusted to accommodate the last days of the school year.
The application for the 2023 season is now open! Please click here to begin your application.
Want to Learn More?
- Adler Planetarium is hosting a virtual opportunity fair on February 11. At this event, teens can learn more about summer opportunities at Adler Planetarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and more! Sign up here to attend this virtual event.
- Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting an in-person job fair at the zoo on March 4 from 1–3 p.m. Attendees will learn more about internships, jobs and volunteering at the zoo. Learn more and sign up here.
- If you plan on applying to any of the summer opportunities at Lincoln Park Zoo and are interested in learning more about how to submit a high-quality application, we are hosting two different application help sessions. These sessions will be held remotely over Zoom. Those sessions will be held on:
- Monday, February 27, from 6–7 p.m.
- Friday, March 17, from 1–2 p.m.
- If you want to attend one of these virtual sessions, you can sign up for free here.
- Further information sessions may be added throughout February and March. For the most updated list, or to invite a zoo educator to speak to your group, please email email@example.com.
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 3-8, 2023.
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 responsible for campers?
No. Counselors-in-Training play a supporting role to the camp instructors and will never be solely responsible for campers. They may have the opportunity to lead an activity, organize the group, and manage behavior, but they will never be left alone with a group of campers without additional support.
How will I know if I’ve been accepted?
We will contact all applicants via email by Friday, April 21, 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 environment, 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, Horticulture, Nutrition, Conservation & Science, and IT departments. People filling this position will participate in two shadowing sessions 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.