Parents, tip those camp counselors!

<p>D is a counselor at an upscale day camp serving mostly affluent families, and today was the last day for the campers doing the first session. Parents of only a third of the campers tipped the staff. I'm dumbfounded. D and S were once campers there, and I tipped every one of their groups' counselors, as well as their bus counselors--I'd adjust the amount based on how I perceived their performance, but I'd never dream of stiffing them completely. One of D's responsibilities was to take a girl with serious medical issues to the nurse multiple times per day--no tip from her family. Another counselor was assigned to work on-on-one with a girl with developmental disabilities--no tip from her family. One of D's campers is the daughter of a very well known sports personality who is a multi-millionaire--no tip from her family. So if any of you have younger kids who attend camp, I want to educate you--high school and college kids working as camp counselors make very low wages and depend on tips to round out their income. Tip everyone, and if your kid's summer was especially great due to the efforts one one person (just ask, you'll find out), tip that counselor extra! (I realize some overnight camps prohibit tipping, but they pay more.) </p>

<p>It's a pricey camp, and I guess some parents must feel that they are paying enough already--but my view is that if you can afford to pay for an expensive camp experience for your kid, you can toss some cash to the young people who look after your kid's health and well-being every day. S once did deliveries for a package store, and said it was always people in the fanciest houses who didn't tip at all. I guess I'll never understand human nature.</p>

<p>Is this common? I've never even heard of camp counselors being tipped before, and I know my parents never tipped camp counselors at any camp I went to.</p>

<p>My kids have worked as camp counselors at sleepaway camps for years and never once been tipped nor has the thought that they should be tipped ever entered their minds. In all the years my kids attended camp, it never occurred to me to tip. I don't believe it's a situation where tipping is required. If the counselors are paid, then they are paid. Camp is expensive enough.</p>

<p>Oh, and also, I worked for years as a camp counselor in one of the most upscale parts of the country. None of us were ever tipped. If I was a director of a camp, I would strongly discourage tipping.</p>

<p>My sister was a counselor at a summer girl scout camp and was never tipped. I don't understand why you would.</p>

<p>Same reason you'd tip anyone--because the expectation of tips is figured into their wages. I guess this is a regional thing. At all the camps my kids attended, day and overnight, tipping was expected for good performance. I wouldn't have dreamed of not doing so. At day camps in particular the pay is quite low compared to other summer jobs, often less than minimum wage, and most college kids can't afford to take that kind of summer job without getting tips--similar to caddying, I guess. I'd certainly prefer to have the camp employees paid an adequate wage, with the additional cost folded into the fees, so tipping would be off the table--I feel the same way about waiters and cab drivers--but around here, the camps pay poorly and tips are part of the deal. But I wish the camps would offer guidelines to the parents--D's tips ranged all over the place, from $50 from a parent with one kid in her group, to $20 from a parent with two kids in her group to zilch. Last summer she ended up with about $500 in tips overall--this year won't be close to that.</p>

<p>MommaJ, I understand where you're coming from, but these camps should be paying their counselors enough that tipping isn't a necessity. It is shameful how little some of these young people are earning. It's not even minimum wage, if you do the math. And believe me, these camps are costly, at least where we live. The money certainly isn't going to the counselors! My daughter is lucky enough to be working at a camp that pays decently, and for that we're both very thankful.</p>

<p>Here's a link to an article on the issue. Apparently some camps forbid tipping of counselors, while other camps allow it and even offer guidelines for appropriate amounts.
To</a> Tip or Not To Tip Camp Counselors ::</p>

<p>Is the pay less than minimum wage or not? I've always assumed that camp counselors got paid right around minimum wage, which is low, but not on the scale of wait staff, and have never ever heard of tipping them.</p>

<p>My parents tipped the counselors when I was in camp, I tipped the counselors when my kids were in camp, and my S has received tips as a counselor.</p>

<p>I always thought this was as accepted as tipping a waiter. The kids usually hardly make anything for the summer (except at the morel upscale camps).</p>

<p>I always thought it was well deserved and I would make a point of asking my kids was there anyone who took special care of them over the summer and would give that counselor something extra on top of what I would have given.</p>

<p>My Sn always said that the parents that were the nicest and the friendliest would be the best tippers and the parents that were demanding and required a lot of extra attention (and would be rude) would give nothing.</p>

<p>I was a camp counselor at an upscale overnight camp in PA in the 70's. I got tipped, some quite generously (a few hundred dollars from several parents.) In addition to money, I got gifts from a few campers that were from Europe, a leather purse from Spain, a necklace from another family from Greece. I had no idea about getting tipped as I had only worked at a camp for disadvantaged kids before, but the staff assured me that tips were the norm at this particular camp.</p>

<p>I am from the Northeast where tipping for everything often seems the norm, does the camp have a stated policy on tipping, something discreet in the camper manual? Some people really don't know what is expected of them when it comes to tipping. They find it stressful and embarrassing to ask. No one wants to feel gauche. My dad tipped everyone, and I mean everyone. When I had my son he tipped all the hospital orderlies he came in contact with! He was a great cook so he brought in home made meals for the nurses. He even taught my son about tipping by tipping him to set the table or if he brought him a beer. Not everyone understands the rules of tipping even at an upscale camp.</p>

<p>Both D & S are camp counselors this summer, D at a day camp and S at an overnight camp. D makes above minimum wage and tipping is NOT allowed. S makes less money on a weekly basis than D, which I consider normal since he's getting room & board. He doesn't get tips, either. </p>

<p>The whole tipping thing probably depends on the type of camp -- both D & S happen to be at YMCA camps. I attended/was a counselor at a GS camp for years; no tipping there, either.</p>

<p>For those of you who tip, what regions of the country are you talking about? I have never heard of this. My H went to camp and worked as a camp counselor throughout college. My kids attended the same camp for many years. This was a camp in northern Minnesota, populated mostly (though not exclusively) by Jewish families from Chgo, St Louis, as well as alum kids from all over the country. Never once heard of tipping so I am really surprised to hear of mommaj's strong expectations on the subject.</p>

<p>My son has worked as a counselor last summer. I would say that according to what he told me, perhaps only 20% of parents tipped their child's counselors.</p>

<p>Back in the day when S was a camper and later a counselor at a wonderful camp, it was expressly forbidden and I understand and support the reasons. If it's accepted at your child's camp, I think the onus is on the camp to inform parents about the practice because it is not universal.</p>

<p>I went to a day camp on Long Island, NY, and then was a counselor there. Tipping was common. I empathize with MommaJ's daughter -- I was pretty unhappy with parents who didn't tip. I don't recall what my wages were 30 years ago, but we relied on the tips to earn decent money.</p>

<p>But tipping was not expected or common at any of the camps my daughter went to (I'd rather keep my current location private). I was surprised, but no one tipped. </p>

<p>So I think parents need to check with the camp owner and other parents to see what is expected.</p>

<p>In the camps that my D attended when she was younger, there was a written policy of whether tipping was allowed, and those camps that encouraged tips sent a letter home (as well as publishing in the manual) the suggested tips - so much for senior counselors, junior counselors, CITs, bus. Tips for specialty were not suggested, and unless the kids were the head of that activity, I don't think they got more pay, so they were worse off financially. The pay was not great, certainly not minimum wage, and somehow these jobs are exempt from that. I think the only people who made a more of less "decent" wage were group heads (usually teachers), and no tip was suggested for them.</p>

<p>I worked at a number of camps back in the day, and at 4H camp and a camp for children with emotional problems, and a very expensive private sleep away camp, tipping was expressly forbidden (and not done). I worked at a private day camp, too, and they sent a letter to parents re tipping amounts etc.</p>

<p>D1 went to day camps in NYC when she was little. I was very plugged in with parents, no one said anything about tipping. Later they went to ballet camps, no tipping there. I am a bit surprised by this practice. Would be interested to hear what others have to say.</p>

<p>I am also in the camp of paying those counselors enough so they wouldn't be depended on tips. When tip is involved, you get into counselors could possible treat one camper better than another because of a family's financial situation. I believe every camper should be treated the same. Adults maybe more mature about it, but teens would not be able to keep their feelings in check.</p>

<p>With 5 Ds, all of whom attended camp, and 3 of whom later worked at camps, I've never heard of tipping counsellors. Counsellors have always been well-paid for summer work, in my opinion, and are well above minimum wage, which is usually determinative as to the etiquette of tipping. If the camp in question is paying their counsellors with the expectation that tips will make up the difference to an appropriate wage, then the director should be stating a tipping policy in the camp brochure and materials so that parents are aware of this. I don't think this has anything to do with the financial situation of the families.</p>