Is Camp Alleghany the Right Place for Me as a Counselor?

Camp Alleghany for Girls proudly stands for the values, needs, and traditions of single-sex outdoor education and recreation for females.

Even in the 21st century, girls still face entrenched societal pressures that can affect their ability to thrive into their full selves.

Yet we’ve spent over 100 summers empowering girls and young women to do just that!

Our wholehearted commitment to work within this special and even sacred space for girls and young women remains, since 1922, the core mission of Camp Alleghany for Girls.

To come to camp with us is to join our century-old way of daily camp life, with its traditions, festivals, natural environment, camp culture, and more. New girls and women from diverse backgrounds join us every year as counselors. Welcoming them, and helping make them part of our camp world is a delight every summer!

To that end, the most successful outcomes for counselors happen when you know more about some of our unique, conditions, environment, and culture. (Also see our eligibility requirements for working at camp.)

As you consider applying to work here or during the interviewing process, we ask you to dive into the list below to assess how your personal and career goals align with the prior existing culture at Camp Alleghany for Girls. You should actively ask yourself, Is Camp Alleghany right for me? And feel free to ask us about any of these issues in an interview.

The Rustic Nature of Camp

Camp Alleghany is rustic. While some buildings, like the Camp Office, Infirmary, and Dining Hall have electricity, many do not, including the tents where the campers and counselors live. There is not air conditioning. We have a beautiful, newly built bathroom and shower building, but it is also rustic, built out of wood by a local builder. The showers feel like you’re taking an outdoor shower, some even with mountain views!

Campers and staff live together – up to four campers and a counselor, or counselors with other counselors – in white canvas flap tents atop of wooden platforms a few feet off of the ground. Our two camp tent areas — Junior and Senior Camps — are set in an open field, within 100 yards of the Greenbrier River, and are lit at night by lanterns.

Every day is spent primarily in the beautiful outdoors in a vibrant relationship with Mother Nature. We swim in the river, do most of our work outside, have most Evening Activities, nighttime campfires, free time and more, all outside. When we walk between events or activities, it’s outdoors.

Rain or shine, hot or chilly, we make it to meals, to the bathrooms, and to activities, by moving through the glorious outdoors.

Counselors are part of our Fully Connected approach to a timeless summer camp experience which means that cell phones, time online, and internet-connected devices are seriously limited.

For ‘Ghany Girls, this is paradise, building grit, resilience, and a meaningful appreciation of our natural world.

But it’s not for everyone. It’s so important that you ask yourself whether eight-weeks outdoors and largely unplugged is right for you.

Getting Our Steps In

Even if you’re not into fitness, you’ll get lots of activity in at Alleghany.

If you’re working at ‘Ghany, even in something less active like teaching Arts & Crafts or Alleghany Singers, you can still expect to be on your feet most of the day, and walking, walking, walking here and there and everywhere, uphill and down, and climbing stairs, taking hikes, walking to the river, and so on.

More than that you’ll reach and stretch and haul and lift in pursuit of all kinds of things like getting supplies, putting things away, cleaning up, working with equipment, helping kids of all ages with little unexpected things that kids need and then some. And remember, this is all mostly outdoors.

In short, this is a physically demanding job.

Now, at the end of the day, or when you get to sit down and relax or take Rest Hour, boy does it feel good! The rest of the time, you’ve got to learn to love being in motion because that’s what the long days at camp are all about!

It’s so important that you ask yourself whether eight-weeks moving around every day A LOT is right for you.

Breaking the Sound Barrier!

‘Ghany Girls are bursting with joy to be at camp, and it shows! They’ll sing, scream, and laugh all day — Camp Alleghany can be loud (and that’s not even counting the crickets chirping, birds cooing, owls hooting, and occasionally a strong wind blowing!)

From our morning Assembly, to our bustling meals in the Dining Hall, where everyone spontaneously bursts into song, to our friendly but fierce Blue/Gray competitions, to many, many of our goofy traditions, to simply living with 300 other people in a shared camp setting and, well…it’s not exactly the library!

Not. Even. Close.

Similarly, the pace of camp is energetic (though it has Rest Hour, Taps, and other opportunities to relax). When something super exciting is going on, like a Carnival Day, or a wild and crazy performance, things can get pretty high energy!

And if you’ve never been around 200 or so squealing, giggling, screeching little and big girls, you’ll want to understand what that means for you. To be a counselor, you have find this not only tolerable, but endearing.

Camp is, simply put, not very quiet.

If you value extreme introversion, respite, and the feeling of utter serenity, you’ll find that this kind of noise is not for everyone. It’s so important that you ask yourself whether eight-weeks in a space and culture that are often loud, and usually high energy, is right for you.

We’re Soulful Spirits

Since its founding, Camp Alleghany has had mild religious undertones.

While we’re not affiliated with any specific denomination, and we’re not a Christian Camp, we were founded with the enduring Christian values of love, compassion, generosity, community, and individual self-worth. These spiritual facets come into play in our reflective and introspective Vespers gatherings, our brief non-denominational Sunday outdoor chapel service, and in the values of Camp Alleghany, which include regarding the soulful humanity within everyone.

More directly, we sing a blessing before each meal, and the word God appears in some of our treasured Campfire and Vespers songs.

We welcome counselors and campers of ALL religious backgrounds, including no religion, and we don’t discriminate or push any theology or doctrine on anyone. At all.

Staff and campers may individually choose to abstain from singing the blessings or specific Campfire and Vespers songs, and may opt out of church. But this spiritual and even mildly Christian element is a part of our culture that you will experience at Alleghany.

And this is not for everyone. It’s so important that you ask yourself whether eight-weeks in a space and culture that will, in very small doses, include spiritual acknowledgments, some non-denominational religion, or mention of God, is right for you.

Friendship, Friendship, Just the PERFECT Blendship

While we do not condone, allow, or encourage ANY sort of romantic relationships at camp between campers, and certainly not between campers and counselors, we do allow counselors to date.

However, there are certain caveats.

Just as in any other job, you’re hired at ‘Ghany as an employee with a specific job. You’ve come here to do the work of being a counselor. That is your sole focus, priority, and role at any time when you’re on duty.

Any romantic relationships between staff members have no place in the work day and should not in any way be evident to campers or staff during any work hours, or visible to the rest of camp on our grounds at any time on or off duty. (This is equally true whether the relationship is between two female staff members, or a female counselor and a male staff member.)

Counselors have off hours, and take time off of camp grounds for personal time. These are the acceptable contexts for any dating between staff members.

If you’re unable to compartmentalize a dating relationship to your off hours and off site, or if you are coming to camp specifically in hopes of finding a romantic relationship, Alleghany is not the place for you.

A Girl’s Place, a Girl’s Space

Camp Alleghany’s mission is tied to gender — it is a camp for females. We have been for 100 years in large part because at its founding, and even now, there were — and are — inequitable opportunities for females in outdoor recreation and education.

We take great joy, pride, and enthusiasm in providing compelling summer camp programming that’s all about girls!

We understand that among the changes in society, there has been rapid public change around the gender spectrum in the last few years. Our team believes wholeheartedly that all camp professionals, whatever their gender orientation, have a place in the summer camp world. And we want to make sure that young adults who are focused on a gender-exploration journey are working at the right camp for them.

To be fully candid, our little slice of the summer camp world is about girls/young women — their needs, their voices, the unique pressures they face in society and culture, and all that they can achieve within both the obstacles and avenues to progress in our times. We’re fully committed to this mission as it is, and are not planning to change our culture on this issue as girls’ and women’s needs — and the spaces to accommodate them — remain crucial to society even today.

If you identify as other than female or are exploring other gender identifications, we ask that you realistically consider your comfort level within our camp culture:

  • We regularly and proudly use the pronouns she/her.*
  • We happily say “Ghany Girls” as we call campers, begin meetings, and describe ourselves. This is a core part of our identity that has brought joy to generations of campers and is a tone that speaks to our campers today. We will not be dropping this or altering it to reflect a different or larger understanding of gender.
  • We celebrate female culture, female ties, and the unique needs of females.

*Naturally, many of our songs use the words “girls” or use “she” and “her.” We are unable to accommodate he/him pronouns at Alleghany for anyone outside of our male staff. We will do our best to accommodate they/them pronouns for individuals as desired, but collectively (songs, announcements, large group settings, etc) we will use she/her.

If female language, she/her pronouns, single-sex culture, elevation of female values and needs, or any of the above makes you feel uncomfortable, Alleghany may not be the right fit for you.

Politics, Society, Activism, and Culture

The world can be a wounded yet wonderful place that we all wish to see improved. And we’re sad when it falls short.

In particular, young people in the typical age for counseling jobs, and coming from all places along the political spectrum, often want to make the world more just, fair, truthful, and pure in a way that comports with their own personal worldview. We applaud this meaningful aim, and are so proud of the volunteer and career-oriented work many of our former staff do in these spaces!

At ‘Ghany, though, our camp culture has long been a sacred and treasured place for somewhat opposite reasons. When we cross the river on our Barge (powered by human muscle, not fossil fuel), we are very consciously and conscientiously leaving the modern world behind, including its politics, social divisions, and its unfinished work across myriad activism fronts. What we then do is focus our energy on a socio-cultural mission all camp workers can meaningfully share: empowering girls and women to be their best selves!

In our camp community we honor the dignity of all people, speak and listen to one another with openness and respect, and practice inclusion, fairness, and kindness. All this is done without turning to the day’s news headlines “out there”, nor bringing in modern day social/cultural/political issues to the summer camp days of canoeing and singing and campfires!

As for pedagogy, the Camp Administration forms the structure of our Activity and Leadership curricula, which we train our staff to implement. Issues outside of our curricula should not be independently introduced at camp without prior approval.

We’re here to teach and play with young girls, to laugh and cry with them, to help them in their athletic/artistic/and personal journeys, and to give them a timeless experience of friendship, nature, activity, and fun. While we do have a service component both within camp and outside of camp for some age cohorts, the camp administration chooses these outreach efforts to match the values and culture of Alleghany and do so in a way that unites — not divides — the many, many different political and cultural approaches of its many camp families.

In short, we’re not here to push political, social, or cultural agendas on our campers or camp culture.

If specific areas of social, cultural, or political activism outside of empowering females is not something you feel comfortable leaving behind during the camp day, nor can compartmentalize until you return to school or other work, it is likely that Camp Alleghany would not be right for you. If you have questions about this, please ask us in an interview.

Is Alleghany Right for You?

After exploring these questions, if you feel that Alleghany is a good fit, we’d love for you to get in touch with us. In the meantime, we welcome you to also look at our basic eligibility requirements, elements that don’t encompass our camp culture but simply the conditions at camp and the scope of our services.

If you feel ‘Ghany wouldn’t be right for you can also get in touch with us — in our commitment to the values of summer camp for all individuals, we’re happy to help you find a camp that would be a better fit.

One final note is that we ask our campers to also self-assess across these areas.