Guide to Finding the Perfect Summer Job at the Y

Last updated: June 20, 2024, at 10:08 a.m. PT

Originally published: April 12, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. PT

Camp lead and students exploring nature

How to find your perfect summer job at the YMCA of Greater Seattle

The right summer job can have lifelong impacts, from discovering your passions to discovering your potential. The Y has a history of people finding their career path during a summer job, there’s something for everyone. To find your path, start by asking yourself a few questions to see some quick breakdowns of main job categories, requirements, and need-to-know info.

What skills and experience do you have?

It’s always a good idea to take stock of your skills and experience before looking for a job. What past job experience do you have or other certifications and skills? Also don’t assume job experience always means that you must have held that exact job before. Do you know how to swim, have CPR training, a food handler’s permit, or something like a lifeguard certification? Many skills are transferable, and you may be more qualified than you realize. For example, most of our summer jobs prefer applicants to have some experience working with kids. If you’ve babysat younger siblings, coached, or tutored younger kids, that’s valuable experience and it counts!

How old will you be this summer?

If you’re between the ages of 16 and 17, start by browsing our aquatics jobs, from lifeguards to swim instructors, these positions can be held starting at 16-years-old. If you are 18 or older, a wider range of jobs open up, a camp counselor or wilderness instructor positions might be for you.

How do you want to grow?

If you have focus and experience in a certain area, maybe it’s time to level up. Applying for a supervisor position like lead counselor at camp will provide hands on valuable leadership skill development that will give you a leg up on other candidates when seeking employment in years to come.

What are your limitations or needs?

Knowing how far you can travel for work or when you need to be off will help identify jobs that fit your needs. If you have kids or animals that need to be taken care of, an overnight summer position won’t work, so start by browsing day camp or aquatic jobs. If you’re looking to make a certain amount to pay bills, look for higher-paying jobs that require more responsibility or certifications like lead position or driving positions.

Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for and qualify for, review these main job categories and key details to see what interests you! 

Lifeguards & Swim Instructors

Swimming instructor and students in a session

Love to work in and around water? Then make a splash as a member of our aquatics team! We have a variety of positions open for lifeguards, swim instructors, aqua fitness instructors, swim support staff, and more. Dive in! Teach children and adults new skills while helping them achieve goals and preparing them for future success. In this role you will teach children and adults water acclimation and safety, water movement and stamina, stroke development and mechanics. We are looking for trustworthy leaders who want to make positive connections with our members and program participants, have a keen eye for safety, and set the tone for a safe environment for kids and families for our summer season. Each year our Y’s teach thousands of people to swim and enjoy the water as a form of play and lifelong exercise.

Key Details:

  • For positions at Y branches, pay starts at $19 an hour for ages 16-17 and $20 an hour for 18+.
  • For positions at Resident Camp pay starts at $75 a day and includes room and board at camp.(18+).
  • Must pass a swim competency test for all positions.
  • Must maintain certification-level of physical and mental readiness.
  • Must be observant and able to react calmly, quickly, and with good judgment in an emergency.
  • First AID/CPR required (training is available through Y).
  • Must have Lifeguard certification – YMCA or Red Cross (training is available through Y).

See all Aquatics Jobs>>

Resident/Overnight Camp

Camp counselors and students kayaking

Start your greatest adventure yet and share the wonders of the outdoors with kids this summer. A resident camp job at the Y gives you opportunities to explore future career pathways, all while exploring the great outdoors! Y resident camp happens at two locations, Camp Orkila on Orcas Island, and Camp Colman in Longbranch, Washington.

Key Details:

  • Pay starts at $75 per day and includes room and board at camp.
  • Staff live at camp for the entire summer!
  • Make memories and friends for a lifetime with fellow Y staff.
  • Resident and overnight staff must be at least 18-years-old.
  • The camp workweek is six day on with one day off, and including training, staff meetings, and regular duties.
  • First AID/CPR certification is required (training is available through the Y).

See all resident/overnight jobs>>

Boys Outdoor Leadership & Girls Outdoor Leadership (BOLD & GOLD)

Campers in outdoor leadership skills building activities in nature

BOLD & GOLD gets you out into the wilderness and tests your leadership and outdoor skills. We engage over 500 youth on outdoor experiences ranging from 5 to 15 days in places like the North Cascades, Mt Rainier, and Olympic National Park. Activities include backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, fishing, yoga, art, music, literature, backcountry cooking, and having fun in nature.

Key Details:

Pay starts at $110 per day.

  • Employees must be able to lift and carry items weighing up to 50lbs and safely travel over varied terrain (trails, tree roots, boulder/rock fields, shoreline, mud, snow, ice) up to 15 miles per day.
  • Be comfortable spending multiple days and/or weeks in a wilderness setting, communicating both verbally and non-verbally with other staff, volunteers, and participants.
  • Training for 2022 begins in mid-June, and instructors can expect to have three to five field weeks of work between Mid-September 2022 and May 2023.
  • Employees must be 21-years-old or older and have a current Driver’s License with a minimum of 3 years of safe driving history.
  • Current Wilderness First Aid and CPR certification required.
  • Current WA State Food Handlers Permit required.

See all BOLD & GOLD Jobs>>

Day Camp

Camper and a camp counselor enjoying day camp activities

Every day hundreds of children participate in fun and engaging Y summer day camp programs. Day camp staff serve as a professional role models for our campers by leading through example and guiding campers through recreational activities including arts and crafts, sports, social recreation, songs, nature hikes, archery, and more.

Key Details:

  • Positions start at $20 an hour!
  • Camp types range from Discovery Camp (1st-5th), Kids on their way (Kindergarten), Outdoor Day Camps (1st-5th) and Peak Camp (6th-8th grades).
  • Day Camp season runs June 20 – August 26 (start dates vary by location) with training for some positions beginning in early May and June.
  • Day camp counselors must be at least 16-years-old.
  • First AID/CPR required (training is available through Y).

See All Summer Day Camp Jobs>>

Category: Camp