Posts Tagged ‘staff’

It’s All about the Staff

Monday, October 14th, 2013

As we all reflect on this past summer and how incredible it was, we want to take this opportunity to thank our amazing staff! Their contribution to camp was immeasurable.  They are a huge part of the reason why this summer was so special. From the Program Heads and Division Leaders to the Support and Counselor staff, we were so impressed with your dedication and commitment to making it the very best.  We recognize that although our program and activities are second to none, the counselor involvement and spirit really make the difference in creating the magic that is Starlight. We love that the Starlight staff understand and enjoy the role they play in their campers’ lives. They learned quickly that as a counselor they could positively impact and influence their kids as well as set the tone for everything here at camp. We appreciate that our counselors take this job to heart.

Camp Starlight is what it is because of the people, and we know how important it is to find the right team that is ready and willing to learn about themselves as well as teach other. Thank you to the people who keep our community the wonderful and safe place that it is. When it comes to camp, there is nothing as important as the people we surround ourselves with. What a team we had–It’s all about the staff!

-Alyson Lee

A Summer Full of Adventure

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Few people think of finding a summer job while bundled in scarves, coats, and gloves as they attempt to maneuver roadways and college campuses after the latest snowfall.  However, whether 2011 is the first time you’re considering a summer camp position or you’re a seasoned veteran, February is exactly the time to start the process of securing summer employment, if you haven’t already done so.  Many camps attend campus recruiting fairs in order to assemble the perfect staff.  So why should you attend one of these fairs or complete an online application now?  To begin with, a camp job is definitely fun, but also a lot of work…so be prepared! Where else can you get paid to play all day while building valuable job skills? Whether you work in a specific area and focus on a sport, activity or hobby you love or you work as a counselor who travels from activity to activity with campers, your day is full of exciting challenges and a probably even a few surprises, both of which will develop your problem-solving, critical thinking, and negotiation skills.

If you like working with children and aspire to a career in a field such as education, sports training, psychology or sociology, then you already have another reason to work at a camp.  Camp is an excellent place to gain valuable experience and is impressive on a resume.  Although camp seems lighthearted–and it is in many ways–working at camp requires a lot of responsibility, flexibility, and adaptability, all of which are very valuable characteristics sought by employers.   Each day guarantees new challenges, many of them unexpected.  Summer camp is often organized chaos.  Yes, there is always a plan in place, but the unexpected is also inevitable.  While this may seem scary the first couple days, it also brings an excitement and satisfaction that delivering pizzas or serving food (or even working at an investment bank)  never could.  Working at camp also requires a lot of communication and interpersonal interaction, two more transferrable skills that are highly valued by employers.  At camp, you must effectively co-exist with your campers, co-counselors, and other staff members to be successful.   You will also be able to tell future employers that you worked with people from all over the world and from many different socio-economic backgrounds.  That you’ve overcome cultural, language, and social obstacles with others tells recruiters that diversity is not something you fear, but rather embrace.

Working at summer camp can also be very healthy for your bank account.  You won’t become Donald Trump spending your summers at camp. However; camps provide housing and food in addition to a salary. It’s possible to live virtually expense-free for a couple of months.  Many summer camp counselors take home all or most of their salaries at the end of the summer.

Finally, you will form lifelong friendships at camp.  You may arrive alone and nervous in June, but you will leave in August with literally hundreds of friends from all over the world.  Two months may not seem like a long time, but when one lives and works in close proximity with co-workers, it’s more than sufficient to form bonds that ordinarily would take years.  There are always  tears on the last day of camp, not only when saying goodbye to your campers, who will have secured a special place in your heart forever, but to co-workers—the ones you know you will see again as well as the ones you know you will not.  Regardless, the world will seem like a much smaller place to you.

Though it may seem early to begin planning such a special adventure with so many possibilities, building a successful camp staff not only requires individuals who possess all of the qualities previously mentioned, it requires finding the right mix of personalities and talents.  Such an endeavor, of course, takes time.  Camp recruiters review literally thousands of applications each year and speak with hundreds of candidates to find those who are the best fit for their camp’s atmosphere, philosophy and program.  Starting your job search while the ground is still white and the tree branches still bare provides you with the advantage of a larger pool of positions from which to choose.  By April, most camps have nearly completed their hiring and only difficult to fill or highly specialized roles remain.

So, after a winter of wading through piles of snow, are you ready for a summer full of adventure?

How to fire up your resume outside of class!

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

According to American Camp Association (ACA) CEO Peg Smith, approximately 1.2 million camp staff make summer camp happen each year. Camp counselors are a large group in that staggering number and many are also college students who not only earn money for school but also professional experience, resume-building skills and learn a lot about themselves! Smith says that summer camp provides a unique learning experience for college students since “a camp job offers real life experiences and a hands-on education that simply cannot be found in a classroom.” If you’re looking for a way to earn money and also develop and grow as a person, summer camp is a place where children and adults come together to form a unique community. It’s a job that you can take seriously and share what you know—but also learn—from staff and campers.

Here are some benefits you can expect from the job:

1. No research then writing arguments here! You’ll have to master real-life, problem-solving skills in the moment, like how to get your campers to clean up and go to activities on time.

2. You’ll be a role model and surrogate parent for children who grow to love and respect you while you have a significant and positive influence in their lives.

3. As you care for and encourage others, you’ll develop greater self-understanding. You’re moving into adulthood and it shows in the way you treat others and make choices for yourself!

4. Professional development and training are required—no taking a back seat here. Hone your leadership and people skills.

5. You’ve heard about “networking,” and this is where it starts—you’ll develop and expand a network of peer relations that can last a lifetime.

Do you want to know more? Find out about camp counselor opportunities here and how you can combine earning money for college, professional and personal development and yes, a little camp fun!


This isn’t just your typical summer job!

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Are you ready for the best summer of your life?! Get out from behind the desk, stop flipping burgers, and leave the cash register behind! Go to Camp! Work at Starlight!

They say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love, and if you have spent a summer working at camp, you know that those words are true. But a lifetime of fun, spirit, laughter, new adventures, challenges, friendships and activities awaits you…and you can get all this… in just 8 weeks!

Yes, the role of a Starlight counselor is demanding and exhausting, but it is also more rewarding than you can ever imagine. Being part of a strong camp community such as Starlight gives you an opportunity to really be yourself. It allows you to teach, learn, grow, and even realize some undiscovered talents! Coming into the job, I don’t think anyone can understand the impact the campers and other staff members will have on you, but no one walks away without feeling like they were a part of something very special. A feeling you can’t describe; you just have to “know it”. A sense of team truly exists at our camp, and you will return from a summer at Starlight with a greater sense of self confidence, strong friendships, new skills, and even some great dining hall cheers! Learn more about this amazing opportunity in the Staff Section of our site and apply today!

Alyson Lee

The last job of its kind — Camp Counselor

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

By now you probably have a pretty good idea about what life is like for campers at summer camps, but there is an entirely different world behind the scenes of summer — the life of a camp counselor. Imagine a job where you can make new friends, participate in fun summer activities and have unique opportunities for personal growth and development. Indeed, being a camp counselor might just be “the last throwback job.” It’s intense, it’s 24-7, and there are few jobs like it for young adults.

A camp counselor’s day begins bright and early, when the campers wake up. They get up with the kids, get dressed, share breakfast together and motivate the campers to start their day. Counselors for the youngest campers (grades 1-5) stay with them throughout the day, like a big brother or sister, ushering them through their daily routine of activities, meals and field trips. Campers develop close relationships with their counselors over the summer, and the counselors take on the roles of surrogate parent, mentor, leader, role model, and friend. The counselors work hard to maintain a great relationship with campers (Read more here about the training counselors receive.)

While counselors have fun and get to participate in camp activities, they also have a tremendous amount of responsibility. “I learned to be a leader as a camp counselor,” Disney CEO Michael Eisner told Charlie Rose in a 2005 interview. In his memoir, simply titled Camp, Eisner reminisces about his many summers as a camper and then counselor. In the corporate world, Eisner says, no one is willing to give you real responsibility until you are in your 30s or even in your 40s. At camp, that opportunity comes much earlier and the payoff is huge.

David Knee, a counselor at Starlight who runs the camp’s counselor-in-transition program, couldn’t agree with Eisner more. “The position of counselor provides you with learning far beyond camp. It transcends camp to enable you to conduct yourself as a professional in any environment through community service, care for others, and the development of pedagogy, training skills, etc.”

Knee began his camping career as a camper 14 years ago. He is now the person responsible for building the counselor-in-transition program – grooming the eldest campers to be the counselors of tomorrow. Regardless of what camp your child attends, if they are interested in one day being a counselor, they will probably need to complete some sort of transition program like the one David runs at Starlight

Starlight’s program takes two years and after this training, CAs are eligible for staff positions. Camp Starlight’s “Counselor Apprentices” are usually 15 or 16 years old, and they receive specialized training as well as mentoring from current counselors, whom they shadow. “They are observing and instructing at the same time,” Knee says of the CA’s dual role as trainee and counselor. An important part of the CA training program is letting the CAs see the “backstage process” of camp, Knee says. Even campers who have attended the same camp for years don’t see all the hard work it takes to make camp great. So Starlight’s program begins right after campers’ “senior summer” at camp and includes a bus trip down the California coast just after visiting day for the group.

Through such transition programs and experiences, counselors can grow and flourish in the leadership roles they are given and prove themselves capable before and during high school, not just after they graduate. But the lessons learned at camp also provide excellent tie-ins to other careers that involve working with children, including teaching, coaching, and social work; not to mention careers in business, management and administration. Being a counselor demands highly refined interpersonal, time management and training skills — assets for any career and in any profession.

Take a look around – you might be surprised how many former counselors are in your world!


The Heart of Camp/Caring for Kids: Staff and Counselors

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

In an earlier post, we discussed one of the primary concerns parents have about summer camp – will my child be safe? This week, we wanted to talk about the people who care for our kids at camp and keep them safe; how they are chosen and trained to do their jobs. When you’re putting the care of your children into other people’s hands, it’s important to have confidence in their caretakers. At Starlight, not only does every person who works at camp have to love working with kids, they all also have to be good at it and have the skills to be a success.

Building a good staff begins with selecting the right personnel. We focus year round on finding, recruiting, and selecting the best qualified counselors to live and work with the children. Most of our head counselors, group leaders, campus leaders and department heads have been with their camps at least five years, and some have returned every summer for 20 years! All are professionally-trained educators and coaches who have proven their ability to instruct a particular activity. The counselors, who have the most direct contact with your camper, have all completed at least their first year of college (with many further on), and go through a rigorous interview and selection process, and reference and background checks. We recruit counselors from over 100 different colleges around the country and many fine universities throughout the world. Just over half of the counselors return from year to year, with many only ending their counseling careers when they graduate college and move on to real-world schedules (no more free summers!)

Of course, selecting the right people is only the beginning of the process of creating a successful staff. The counselors must also be trained and oriented to the camp’s particular processes, schedules and procedures. To do so, all staff must complete a week-long Orientation. We are especially lucky to have large groups of former campers who return to be counselors. They know the camp traditions and songs, and, more importantly, they remember what camp looks like from the point of view of the campers. At Orientation, they can share their experiences with new staff members and serve as ambassadors for our particular mission and traditions.

The seven-day day Orientation is filled with training in individual responsibilities, working with the campers, and of course, health, safety, and emergency procedures. Such intensive training ensures that counselors aren’t just up to speed with the programs but also child development and the best techniques for working with kids in the cabins. We bring in outside speakers to provide info on contemporary issues for schools and homes as well as advanced skills for working with other people’s children and those responsibilities.We also meet with counselors and go over each individual child’s information and specific issues that might arise over the course of the summer. By the time the campers arrive, the counselors have a great understanding of every child in their care, gleaned from information from the director’s meetings with parents, the camper’s profile information forms, and past years’ knowledge of returning campers. Even the group and campus leaders know the children well, since they are mostly veterans who watch the children grow over time. Orientation is fun, and the trainers work hard to create a feeling of unity and team amongst the staff.

Beyond the formal week long Orientation, over half of the individual activity instructors (waterfront, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc.) come to camp early, with key staff and counselors often training three weeks prior to Orientation. Counselors who are responsible for specific program areas are also trained to write lesson plans and taught how to execute a fun and instructional activity period. Each attends an entire training day devoted to teaching kids their particular activities and making it fun. Finally, every camp staff member is well-trained in general safety procedures and first aid, with additional courses and certifications dependent on counselor responsibilities.

All this training and teamwork that begins in Orientation quickly spills over into a great summer for the kids. But the seven days of Orientation before camp starts is just the beginning. Camp staff attend weekly meetings and trainings, and everyone receives ongoing support from their supervisors on a daily basis. Without a well-trained staff, no camp can have a successful season. The right people – people who love children and are good at working with them – create the foundation for a terrific summer of experiences and memories for the most important people on campus, your children.