When you are exploring whether to apply for a camp counselor job with Camp Alleghany for Girls you begin, of course, with checking out what we expect of you — the time commitment, skills needed, attitude, past experience, etc., that will be required for you to get a job.
In this we’re not unique — most employers have clear expectations and the link above takes you to ours.
But what you also might want to know, especially in considering packing up your trunk to settle into the mountains for eight weeks in the summer, is what do YOU get from us? What can you expect from us?
Well, we’re glad you asked.
And we like to think that you get a lot from us because we recognize that this employer and staff relationship is a two-way street. You’re committing to us, and we’re committing to you — to your success and enjoyment at camp and your ability to use what you’ve learned working at camp in new ways that we can help support where possible.
So let’s jump in and share with you what you can expect from us.
You can only do your job and do it well if you are properly trained. In addition to our week-long on-site training and staff bonding session before the campers arrive, and then during Mini Camp Week (the nuts and bolts of how to do the job), we also provide you with constructive mentoring at a deeper and more personal level during your time with us.
You’re an individual with your own style, personality, goals, hopes and dreams. We care about each of our staff members and want you to succeed at camp and beyond.
When you’re faced with a challenge, new task, or are working to meet a personal goal, we want to help guide you, brainstorm, and give ideas that can help you get there. This is a relationship.
But there are also some concrete ways this happens.
For example, the Head of Archery might have her staff rotate being “in charge” of Archery throughout the week, letting them step into the role of the Head, while the Head herself is still there, and then gives feedback about how the counselor did. It’s a way to “learn on the job” that can aid in advancement if the counselor wants to apply for a position of more responsibility the next summer.
Or to use another example, a Junior or Senior Camp Unit Head (supervisors our residential Tent Row), may work alongside a counselor in her Unit who needs extra help with a specific camper — the Unit Head and the counselor are partners in solving the issue, rather than the Unit Head coming in and being more authoritative and just issuing orders. Further, the Unit Head and counselor can touch base along the way to monitor progress and keep adjusting as necessary.
Honest Feedback, Fairly Delivered
When you’re learning, you can’t know if you’re getting it right unless you get some feedback. That feedback should always be honest, while delivered in a constructive way.
We highly value honesty, and in fact our camp is governed by an Honor Code. But we’ve all heard the phrase, “You just needed some honest feedback.” Sometimes this can be catty, or undermine efforts. We don’t tolerate that.
Our honest feedback is constructive and always designed to help you grow as an individual in a way that is supportive, kind, and meaningful, particularly in relationship to your own stated goals.
We have formal feedback sessions scheduled four times throughout the eight weeks counselors are here, and informal feedback is given at any given time! This helps set counselors up for success and growth throughout their entire tenure as a staff member.
Outfitting You With Supplies
To do the best job possible, you need to have the right supplies in good, working order and a place for their storage, tracking, and management.
We’re committed to giving you the supplies you need for your area of camp, and any supplemental materials and/or resources for your job.
Resources can be anything from a great personal calendar, a handbook you can turn to for clarification, a Pinterest Board of ideas for your area of camp, a budget for your programmatic needs, or a clear method to reach and work with the leadership team to make sure you’re heard in a timely when any questions, needs, or concerns arise.
The Intangibles of a Job Well Done
There’s a rewarding feeling that comes with helping young campers grow and develop. You might not know it, but that rewarding feeling is all about developing empathy. It comes from working seamlessly with your team members for a camper or project. It’s the result of utilizing heightened social skills, emotional intelligence, and even emotional restraint in a frustrating situation. It comes from being confident and calm in conflict management and resolution.
And guess what? Though these don’t necessarily have a specific “task” associated with them, they are actually just the kinds of “intangibles” that almost all employers, from small local companies to huge corporations, such as Apple or Google, are looking for as they hire today.
You can expect that by the end of camp, you will have achieved facility and even mastery in some of these areas. And you can expect to use that in everything else you do today.
Most of our counselors are in a “teaching” role in some capacity in camp, whether in an activity class, with their tent campers, or in any instance where they are modeling behavior for campers.
While there are clear standards of behavior here, it would be awfully dull and robotic if all you got to do was follow a paint-by-numbers system!
You have ideas, creativity, innovations that you personally want to bring and we want to nurture and guide that within our standards (and within time limits and resources) to let you find a way to make it a part of camp.
I can’t tell you how many things over the years at camp — from way before my generation all the way to your generation today — were brought about by counselor creativity and innovation! You should expect to be given this by us, and guided to help make it a reality!
Camp isn’t exactly crowdsourced and it isn’t exactly a strict boilerplate. It’s somewhere in between. And one way we reach that Goldilocks spot is by hearing from you!
We have a staff suggestion box that you should feel free to contribute to, whether by name or anonymously, whichever you prefer. Got an idea? We want to hear it!
We also offer weekly counselor surveys that you can expect to utilize if you want to be heard on various issues. When camp is over, there are end-of-session surveys as well. We take the feedback and suggestions seriously, and use them to improve our organization.
Help When Needed
You’re not alone in this job. In fact so many aspects of the job are about good old fashioned team work. That’s why when you need help, or have a question, it’s your right to expect a clear idea of where and how to get that help, whether it’s just for a simple question or an issue that’s more complex. We’re here for you!
There are also periodic meetings with your supervisors that you can expect to approach as being a two-way street. It’s one of the places where you get feedback from leadership — encouragement, praise, and areas for improvement — but also a place to seek mentoring, ideas, counsel, and a measure of sympathy and understanding. Your leadership teams have gone before you here and know the job — they can help you process its many facets constructively.
Opportunities for Self-Care
Being a camp counselor is a demanding and rewarding job. But in order to give your all energetically, emotionally, and in practical ways, you’ve got to take care of you.
We have a clear structure for breaks, taking a breather, time off, and just time to decompress if necessary.
Supervisors Who Care
Because camp is a live-in residential situation, we’re together a lot. That’s awesome and fun — we get to know each other and quickly bond at a deep level.
The prevailing tradition in this regard is that we care deeply for each other. Yes, we’re all getting a job done, and that’s our first priority. But even as we’re all doing our various jobs, you can rely on the fact that your supervisors and the whole leadership structure at camp, all the way to the top, cares about you as an individual.
We care about your physical and emotional health and well being, about you as a person, about your hopes and dreams, and what makes you YOU — from the lighthearted to the deep. Trust that, and you’ll find that this is a job with human warmth and kindness present in the heart of all our tasks and duties.
Individual Attention to Strengths
So often, camp counselors seek letters of recommendation for subsequent jobs, internships, or educational opportunities. The only way we can do this is by knowing you — and by caring about you, as we said above.
To that end, we pay attention to your individual strengths and your approach to the job and your growth within it. That means that when we go to write a deserved letter of recommendation (for those who truly fulfill the job expectations in work ethic and attitude) that we can do so utilizing specific examples, a personal touch that is truly about YOU.
Connection to the Wider ‘Ghany World
When you join our team as a camper or a counselor you become part of a dynamic network of women that began almost 100 years ago in 1922.
All around the country and the world, alumnae work in fields that you want to go into, live in areas you want to visit or move to, teach at schools or in other programs that you might want to be a part of, and run or work in non-profits or charitable or religious outlets that could be a good fit for you.
Our alum are connected, caring, and engaged with us and often a simple phone call or e-mail can help you get connected to someone in our network. It’s surprisingly powerful the feeling that having been at ‘Ghany conveys to its participants, and that small but meaningful connection point is often all it takes to open a dialog or even get a foot in the door.
Why leave fun for last? Well, at camp there’s so much fun, especially if you want the job to be fun, that it’s bound up in almost everything.
Then again, some things aren’t “fun,” just necessary, and that’s just part of the package. But the fact that there is FUN and PLENTY OF IT in this job, is certainly something you can expect to be a part of every singe day and likely part of almost every hour. It’s a perk at camp and we want you to embrace that with joyful expectation.
Apply to be a Counselor
I hope this list of things you can expect from us helps give you a fuller picture of the mutually beneficial aspects of working as a camp counselor with Camp Alleghany.
I encourage you to look over our Staff Page, read further blogs on being a camp counselor for more insight, and e-mail Program Director Casey Tucker if you have any questions about the job or about applying for it.
And if we’ve sufficiently intrigued you about working with us, we encourage you to apply at that Staff Page link above.
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls