Summer Camp Counselors

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Big Cat Rescue Summer Camp Internship Program

**As of 2015, Big Cat Rescue no longer operates a kids summer camp. Summer Camp internships are no longer available.**


Program Overview 


Do you love Big Cats! Do you have prior experience with children? Thinking of being a teacher? Are you interested in educating children about cats and conservation? Then this internship is for you!


Big Cat Rescue is home to more than 100 big cats and is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Summer Camp Internships are 10-week terms and are full-time non-paid positions.  Interns work a 6 day work week of 50+ hours and are required to work weekends and holidays, as these are the busiest times at the sanctuary. Camp weeks run from Monday-Thursday, 9:30am-4pm.  Interns will also help with prep and cleanup before and after camp days. Summer Camp Interns are expected to assist with public tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Summer Camp Interns will receive Fridays off each week.


The summer camp internship runs from June 4th through August 10th, 2012.  Applicant's will arrive two weeks before camp starts on June 18th for intern program training and must be present and dependable for the entire summer camp session. Two age-specific groups run simultaneously—8-11 year olds and 12-15 year olds.  Please indicate your preference, if you have one.


The applicant must be age 20 or over, have prior experience with children, and have an abundance of patience, creativity, and stamina.  You will need a high tolerance for working outside in the intense Florida heat. You will be working in a close partnership with a certified teacher, who will be responsible for designing the curricula, activities, and lessons.  Your job will be: giving tours of the sanctuary to the campers multiple times daily, maintaining discipline and order, making sure all campers and teachers are following the sanctuary’s safety rules, and assisting with all other aspects of camp. Duties include and are not limited to: helping children with arts and crafts, outdoor games, enrichment projects, and lessons, all preparation and cleanup of classrooms, gate opening and closing, contact with parents, cooperation with Big Cat Rescue volunteers and staff, etc.


Internship Training


Camp Intern training classes include the following and are offered within the first two weeks of the internship; (Please note some classes will be given for information purposes only. Summer Camp Interns will not be cleaning or feeding cats at any time.)


Tour Back Up, Gate Operation, and Guest Relations: Teaches the safety procedures and guidelines for assisting with guided tours of the sanctuary, proper operation of the gates, and guest sign in procedures.


Human First Aid: Protocol and techniques for minor wounds and health conditions.

Animal Emergency: Standard operating procedures for an injured animal or animal escape.

Animal Observation: Identify and document signs of an ailing animal.

Small Cat Cleaning: Protocol and techniques for cleaning the small cat and other small animal enclosures.

Events: Represent and promote Big Cat Rescue and its mission offsite.

Kids Tour Guide: Guidelines for leading kids tours of the sanctuary to educate families about the big cats.  Information is given at a child’s level of understanding.

Tour Guide: Guidelines for leading day tours of the sanctuary to spread the mission of the sanctuary and to educate the public about the cats both in captivity and in the wild.

Enrichment: Create and hand out enrichment items to the small cats and other small animals.

Operant Training: Reward desired behaviors of the small cats and other small animals using clicker training.

Small Cat Feeding: Protocol and techniques for feeding the small cats.

Special Tour Guide: Guidelines for leading the tour guide portion of the Feeding and Keeper Tours




Intern Housing Tiger Tail Lodge at Big Cat Rescue

Intern Housing Tiger Tail Lodge at Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue provides free intern housing for up to 15 interns.  All interns have their own private bedrooms, access to local phone lines, wireless internet, access to a shared computer and shared kitchen and T.V. areas. Intern housing is stocked with linens, towels, pots, pans, dishes, etc., cleaning supplies and laundry soap and dryer sheets. Each intern will be reimbursed for up to $50 of food costs each week (if receipts are submitted to the Intern Manager in a timely manner). Intern housings are smoke, alcohol, and drug free environments. Smoking areas are provided outside of the housings. Staff may reside in Intern Housings. Housings are for staff and interns only; guests are not permitted on the property or within the housings.  Some housing may have domestic cats residing inside that are being fostered by the staff or interns for adoption. Interns are permitted to live off-site in their own accommodations at their own expense.  All interns are responsible for the cost of their own transportation, and long distance phone calls.





Animal Care:No animal abuse of any kind will be tolerated (this includes teasing) which is grounds for immediate dismissal.  No food or toys shall be offered to any animal without prior approval from a Staff or Committee Member.  No animal shall ever be removed from its cage or enclosure without the expressed consent of the Staff or a Committee Member.


Safety:No part of your person shall come within three feet of any enclosure or pass through the wire of the enclosure.  Under no circumstances is any person to run or horseplay on the property.  Any person feeling under the weather should contact the Coordinator to notify of an absence.  Cell phones are to be left in the intern’s housings or Volunteer Sign In; however, if the intern is expecting an urgent call and must carry a cell phone, absolutely no calls will be answered while behind the barricades.


Interns must complete the Big Cat Rescue Intern Orientation and are upheld to the same rules and standards as all volunteers.


Interns must wear an Intern Shirt and their two-way Motorola radio at all times while on the sanctuary grounds.  These are provided to the intern at the start of the internship.  The radio must be returned to Big Cat Rescue in good working order at the end of the internship.


Interns must check the Important Updates section of the site daily before beginning their work to check for crucial information and updates regarding the animals and the sanctuary.


Interns are allowed one vehicle for personal transportation and must be parked in approved intern parking area. Interns with vehicles must assist interns without transportation with grocery store trips.


There is an 11 PM curfew for interns living in Intern Housing.  Interns must be onsite and in their own assigned housing at this time.


Interns living in Intern Housings are depended upon for nighttime and during closed hours for emergency situations and are not permitted to spend nights offsite for the duration of the internship.


The housing is a smoke-free, alcohol-free and drug-free environment. The consumption of alcohol or illegal substances is not permitted for the duration of the internship.  Smoking is permitted in designated smoking areas only.


Part time jobs or classes are not permitted for the duration of the internship.


Tardiness and unscheduled absences will not be tolerated.


Security of the residency access gate will be maintained at all times. Any compromise of this security, including the disclosure of codes or the sharing of keys, will result in removal from the program.





No Contact: Big Cat Rescue is a strict no contact facility.  While interns work among the cats and other animals at the sanctuary there is no physical contact with any animal at any time.



Internship Requirements


  • Must be a minimum of 20 years of age.
  • Big Cat Rescue is an English speaking facility.  Interns must be fluent in the English language with spoken and written comprehension.
  • Must possess vision and hearing at adequate levels.
  • Must give complete disclosure of any prescription drugs and physical limitations.
  • Interns must be able to financially support themselves for the duration of the internship. Interns are responsible for the cost of their own transportation, and long distance phone calls.
  • Due to the demands of the internship position, part-time jobs or night classes are not permitted for the duration of the internship.
  • The work is physical and primarily performed outdoors in all types of weather.  Good health and endurance are required. Interns must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds and walk or stand for extended periods of time.
  • Interns must obtain a tetanus vaccination, at their own expense, that will be good for the duration of the internship, prior to participating in the internship program and must submit proof of vaccination.


Internship Fees


  • A $50 fee is required to be paid upon confirmation of the interview session.  This non-refundable fee is for the cost of a criminal background check.
  • A deposit of $300 must be submitted upon acceptance into the program.  This deposit holds the internship slot and insures against failure to complete the internship or damages to the housings. Upon successful completion of the program and inspection of housings the intern will receive the deposit back.  Deposits are collected via credit card.




Big Cat Rescue can only accommodate 2 Summer Camp Interns at any given time.


It is recommended that you apply no later than three months prior to your desired start date, but applications will be accepted anytime.


If you would like to apply for the Big Cat Rescue Summer Camp Internship Program please complete the Summer Camp Intern Application and submit the required documents.  (Email is preferred)


Your application packet must contain:

  • Summer Camp Intern Application
  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • 3 letters of recommendation (No more than 1 reference from Professor/Teacher will be accepted)
  • A copy of your driver’s license or passport

Please send your application packet as soon as possible. Please provide all of the requested information in your application packet or your application will not be considered.


Work with kids at Big Cat Camp

Work with kids at Big Cat Camp

Within 2 weeks of receiving your application packet the Intern Manager will review it.  The best applicants will then be contacted to schedule a Phone/Skype interview with our Education Director(s). The best applicants from the phone/Skype interview will then be contacted to schedule an on-site interview session.  You will choose an interview session date and confirm with the Intern manager.  A $50 application fee will then be required to hold your session dates and to perform a criminal background check.


All U.S. and Canada residents are required to participate in an onsite interview session.  These sessions are two days in length, starting at 10am on Saturday morning thru 2pm Sunday afternoon.  During your interview session you will take a tour of the sanctuary, shadow interns and volunteers, stay in intern housing if available (if not available the applicant must book a hotel and transportation to the sanctuary at their own expense), and interview with members of the Big Cat Rescue Intern Selection Committee.  Interview sessions are by appointment only.  Phone interviews will be conducted for non U.S. and Canada residents only.


After your interview session a criminal background check will be performed.  If you pass the criminal background check, you will hear from us within 3-4 weeks and will be notified as to whether or not you have been accepted.


Once you have confirmed your start date with the Intern Manager, the $300 deposit will be required to hold your start date.  At the end of the internship, the entire $300 will be returned to you. This deposit is taken via credit card, and will only be kept if you confirm your acceptance of the internship and cancel or do not show up on your start date, or if you are terminated from the program early due to breach of contract, or if you damage Big Cat Rescue property or intern housing.




Submit specific questions regarding the intern program via email to Chelsea Feeny, Intern Manager at


Big Cat Rescue Internship Program Contact


Chelsea Feeny

Big Cat Rescue Intern Intake Manager

12802 Easy StreetTampa, FL 33625



Summer Camp Counselors in Action


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