While our theme deals with a magical world, another magic is hard at work that is worth commenting on. This magic can only be found at camp. It is not tangible, but everyone feels it. It is indescribable, but those who have felt it recognize it instantly when someone tries. For a short while, it completes you even though you may have never realized you were missing something in the first place. It is where a minute can feel like an hour, and a week like thirty seconds. Where hours and minutes are no longer used to tell time, but rather mealtimes make up the only plausible method.
It is where strangers become best friends, and friends become family. It is where tests, homework, bills and the economy are far less important than what house gets called up for dinner first, and who has what kaper. It is a place where the adults are the ones to start the water fights rather than the ones who are telling you to stop. It is a place where dancing in a rainstorm and splashing in puddles is not childish, but encouraged. It is where imagination runs rampant, and no one teases you about that. It is where complex disputes can be settled simply by rock-paper-scissors and "not-it". It is where you will find yourself doing things you never thought possible and then leading others on doing them. It is a place where you can be who you truly want to be, even though you don't know who that is. It is a place where the outside has been banished along with cell phones, shopping malls, and the Internet until parents arrive on the last day. And this camp magic lingers in your heart and soul; leaving you longing for it months after camp is over. In the hopes to capture that magic again, you will not think twice about dedicating your year so you and others can experience it once again.
Trying to explain your camp life to an "outsider" is harder than trying to reason with a two-year-old. The truth is people who never went to summer camp simply cannot appreciate how grand it really is until they have gone. There are some people for whom camp becomes a life-line. It gets into their blood, seeps into their cells, and refuses to leave. These people get misty-eyed whenever they smell campfire smoke in the air. They take a certain pride in their voices were hoarse and in not having showered for four days. Ketchup stains on T-shirts are considered battle scars, instead of just dirt.
Camp people know that being able to drink bug juice without getting a bright red mustache is a rite of passage. No matter how many years have passed, a camp person can still remember the exact words the camp director said to them when they were chosen to lead a Color War team. Camp people love construction paper and puff paint, lanyard, and scrapbooks. To a camp person, Foursquare, and Kings are not games, they're a way of life. Camp people get hungry, not for lavish meals, but for under-cooked hamburgers and burnt hot dogs cooked over a ten-year-old charcoal grill in the pouring rain. In the winter, they dream not of a sunny beach and the scent of coconut oil, but on chilly July mornings with dew drained grass. Camp people have backup plans for rainy days, even though it never rains. Camp people are comforted by the sound of a child running the bases, the sight of a child climbing the rock-wall, and the smell of the locker rooms.
Camp people understand that school is ten months out of the year in order to make the time spent at camp more special. Camp people know that hitting a bullseye in archery is properly done in silence but must be done while surrounded with a group of friends. Camp people usually can't remember what they're laughing about anymore by the time they finally stop. Camp people know that life is just easier when you shout, "YES!!! I made a mistake!" Camp people know the contentment of everyone in sight wearing the same staff shirt. Camp people find comfort in knowing that throughout the whole year, no matter what goes wrong, everything will be okay once you get to camp. Camp people know that when you look your worst, it means you've done your best. But above all, camp people know that regardless if you've spent one summer at camp or fifty, a part of you will be changed forever.
No one is “just” any role. Everyone is of equal value. Camp occurs because of all of our efforts combined.If something is not working, change it.The phrase “someone needs to ...” does not exist at camp. That someone is you. Be proactive. You design, determine & develop your own destiny.
If something is broken, fix it.
If someone needs help, help before being ask.
If there is a conflict, resolve it.
If you need help, ask.
If there is something you want to do or see, speak up & act.It doesn’t matter how big or small.
If you are the type of person who craves heavy recognition...2) Unable to Practice Productive Communication
If you are the type of person who constantly needs to be in the spotlight...
If you are the type of person who believes that you must receive before giving help...
If you are the type of person who requires privacy on a daily basis...
You will really struggle at camp. Your work environment and your living situation are the same. You will be in very tight quarters with lots of people. Any privacy is an illusion. Furthermore, the campers always come first, and you need to do it with a smile. So, what do we mean when we say "campers come first"? It means sacrifice. If you are exhausted and heading to bed but hearing a crying camper, you take care of that camper. If a camper comes up to you and says they have no more dry pairs of socks because they opted to jump in a puddle, you give them your last pair of clean socks. If your team is about to win against another team and you are given the opportunity to take the winning shot, you give the ball to a camper even if it means your team might lose.
If you are the type of person who enjoys talking behind people's backs aka gossiping...3) Not Flexible in Nature
If you are the type of person who loves when there is drama among one's friends...
Please do not apply. Gossip is quite damaging to the staff community and those who engage it may be sent home. There is enough going on at camp at already that we do not have the time or energy for drama.
If you are the type of person who bottles in their frustration rather than productively talking them out...
You will really struggle at camp. We are living in tight quarters with close to 170 people. There will be miscommunications. We have a wide range of personalities, and you must be able to work things out in a productive manner.
There is a reason our motto is "Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. Mischief Managed". Please note that the first three words focus on how to handle life's plot twists. Logistic parameters will change and despite our best efforts, you may not always have advance warning. It is important for you to go with the flow.4) Ego
Your job description as an academy employee is "to do whatever it takes." It doesn't matter what role you are assigned, everyone is expected to cheerfully help out and do so without being asked. Medical staff babysits the Director-On-Duty station. Kitchen staff helps unclog toilets. Counselors help in the kitchen. Admin staff runs supply errands.
If your response to feedback is to either become aggressive or mentally shut down...5) Unable to Cope With Stress/Lack of Resilience
If you feel that your idea of truth is absolute...
If you care more about how feedback is given rather than feedback itself...
If you are unable to consider other people's perspectives and feelings...
You are going to be miserable at camp and find this is a very hard environment to work in.
If you respond to stress or making mistakes by shutting down or procrastinating...6) Wrong Primary Motivation
If you respond to stress or making mistakes by becoming grumpy or verbally aggressive...
If you feel you are the exemption to needing sleep, taking your break and/or otherwise, not engaging in proper self-care...
Please strongly consider seeking employment elsewhere. While camp is an amazing place, it is a constant high-stress environment. You need to be able to cope with it effectively or the whole team suffers.
After a long and very hard day at camp, it is your primary motivation that is going to drive you to pick yourself up again and dust yourself off.
If your primary motivation for applying to become an employee is...
- I am concerned I am getting too old for camp.
- I am concerned there is nothing left for me to explore.
- All my friends are now staff but I am a camper.
- I am not really interested in learning to be a leader. I am just curious about what the staff do.
Please consider waiting another year before applying or seek to volunteer in some other capacity.
If you are still eligible to return as a camper, you are encouraged to contact Ash by January 10th. We have the ability to tailor a camper's experience so that it both challenges you constantly while giving you new horizons to explore. Furthermore, there are leadership opportunities that are restricted to campers only.
If your primary motivation for applying is because you want to give back to the community and make the dream come to life for someone else, then we are highly interested in receiving your application.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a staff member at Trefoil Academy.
Transitioning from a camper to a staff member will be one of the hardest transitions that you will do in your camp experience. When you were a camper, your needs always came first. As a staff member, the campers’ needs always come first. This can mean having to scrap a program that you spent months planning without batting eye or even giving up your last pair of clean socks. You have to be able to make these kinds of sacrifices without batting an eye or a whisper of protest.
For the past several years, I have been studying the transition process and have noticed a few emerging patterns. I wanted to take a moment and share them with you.
Observation: Your attitude is your strongest attribute.
There is a saying in the business world. Hire for attitude and train for skills. An individual’s attitude makes all the difference in the transition. If you dwell on the door behind you, you will miss the doors directly in front of you.
Observation: Embrace the notion that this will be a very different camp based experience. It will change your perspective of camp. At the same time, your appreciation will also be deepened.
If that statement causes you to hesitate slightly, it means that your subconscious feels that you might not be ready right now to make the transition as well as you could. You may wish to consider staying a camper for another year. Remember, you can always apply to become an adult staff member, and there are always leadership opportunities among the campers. Please send me an email if you wish to learn about them.
Observation: Many staff become staff to give back to the next generation after receiving so much.
This is very noble. However, be careful of falling into a trap. The camp is a very dynamic creature. You won’t be able to recreate your exact camper experience.
Since 2009, this camp has always been a live-action role-playing adventure with an interactive mystery. It has always been a recreation rather than a reenactment because market research showed the pitfalls in the latter were unavoidable. It is the reason we have the houses we do instead of the Hogwarts houses. To survive, a camp needs a niche and an edge. You have to be on point with your brand to survive in a highly saturated market. With our niche, our closest competition is on the other side of the country. Our primary would-be rival is on another continent. The “video-game” has been a benchmark phrase for the evaluations for the past five years.
A major benefit of this camp’s structure is that it allows the campers to have a diverse range of experiences. Other camps only specialize in a particular activity (i.e. sports, drama, SOL’s etc) or offer a limited general experience. We defy the norms and allow campers to do both. There are some campers who participate in sports, crafts or science for the entire week. There are others who generalize. There are ones who dive relentlessly into the mystery and there are others who dabble. They have a choice.
Each camper has a different experience, and they can alter that experience from year to year as they grow. The structure is set up to do that automatically, not the staff. The fact that folks want the next generation of campers to have the same experience that they had is noble. It is a sign of a job well done. The problem is: each staff had a different experience as a camper. As a prospect staff member, you will be expected to stay on point with the brand. This includes: leading a dungeon crawl, roleplaying as a character in skits and atmosphere, dressing up in costumes, and acting goofy in front of a crowd of people.
Observation: Some folks believe that the only way to stay involved is to become a counselor.
That is a complete and utter myth. First off, there are so many different roles.
This myth contradicts the reality of the camp industry. This is not an easy job. Some folks are better suited to day camps, others to weekend camps. Still, some people thrive best in a resident camp setting. In addition, it is important to note that people’s needs change as they grow. Some may start out as not a good match at one point in their lives but turn out to be star performers later on. The opposite also exists. It is always dangerous to take on a role simply because you have always done it in the past. You are just maintaining the status quo in a dynamic field.
There are also many different types of roles one could play at camp. The following tool is intended as a guide to help figure out what environments you would be well-suited to. It doesn't mean you couldn't thrive in another environment but rather it would just take more energy to do so.
It is important to have the right match for the right role. When you have the right balance of challenge, autonomy, and social connection, the result is this insatiable hunger. This drive that just consumes you and makes you defy all the odds. You are not held back by either the past or fears of the future. You are hungry for the present and confident that you will prevail. You do not think twice about the long hours or the other things competing for your time.
Observation: Remembering that camp is for the campers, not the staff
There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into this camp to simply make it operational and that doesn't include all the frills. A lot of this work is not glamorous and slips below the radar. As a staff member, it is important to be and remain appreciative. Either someone else or yourself is responsible for it. At this camp, we are heavily spoiled as a staff team but it doesn't mean we need to be entitled. When a person becomes entitled, they lose focus that the camp is for the campers and become less flexible. They struggle to adjust to change, and there is a very good reason our motto is: Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. Mischief Managed.
Observation: Those who are eager and proactive in their learning typically have the smoothest of transition.
Camp is a sanctuary to all of us, and as staff, we facilitate that sanctuary by striving to always be learning and improving. While we have a blast with a cutting-edge program that allows making a fantasy world come to live, we do so much more than that. The camp is a business dedicated to youth development. At camp, a camper learns how to navigate various social waters in a forgiving environment and learns so many life lessons that will aid them in the mundane world. We are facilitators even as we are still learning ourselves, and frankly, we always will be. This is a good thing both professionally and individually speaking.
Observation: Most newer staff are concerned about their existing friendships with returning campers.
No one is asking for you to give up your friendships. You will still be able to hang with them when you are on break and sit with them occasionally during meals. Is the nature of your friendship going to change though? Yes. However, that is both healthy and natural in a lasting friendship. I recommend having a heart-to-heart chat with your friends. Please remember that a healthy friendship is a two-way street where both parties are supportive of each other. As you support them, they should be expected to support you when you are "on-the-clock".
As a potential former camper, there are two changes you should be fully aware of.
Change #1: You will not be returning to the house that you were assigned as a student.
As a student, you were sorted into your house based on what that house had to offer you. As a staff member, you are assigned to a house staff team based on what you can offer that house staff team. We are very deliberate in our hiring. Please know that this assignment is also capable of changing from year to year especially if/when you apply to become an adult staff member. This house transition will give you a clean slate to build from. While you may have existing friends in your new house, it is different because they were not your roommates.
I have transitioned between houses so I understand the magnitude of what is being asked of you. Please know that no one is asking you to replace the love that you have for your former house. Rather, you are being asked to simply make room in your heart for another. Staff members belong to all four houses. You had an opportunity to learn some useful skills and talents from your old house, and now it is time to share them with the academy at large.
There are some tricks to aid with the transitioning between houses.
- Volunteer or even better, come up with house spirit related projects for your new house. Working on these kinds of projects will help you internalize house pride for your new house. Also, it will make your new house leadership giddy that you are willing to demonstrate initiative like that right from the start.
- Wear your new house color constantly. Doing so allows your brain to make subconscious positive associations.
- Learn as much as you can about your new house. Each house has its own culture, but the good news is that there are multiple sources of information that you will be able to learn from. Talking with staff members that were former students of that house will let you discover how the students of that house view the house, and what counselor traits they respond best to. Meanwhile, a discussion with your new house leadership team will give you an insider's view of what it is like being a staff member, and what they are looking for out of you. Communication is key! You will be able to get a picture of how the house has changed over the past few years. Finally, there are blog entries on each of the house as well as their online house bio. This will give you an inside look at how the house was developed and its "in-game" history. Remember how a house views themselves is often different than how a third party views them.
- Keep an open mind during the whole experience. It will take some time transition, but the adventure is worth it. This is merely the beginning of a new chapter.
Constantly compare your new house to your former house (ex. "we always did it X in X house"). In addition to delaying the transition, you run the risk of losing authority with the students. As you know from experience, students have a very fierce house pride and desire staff that wants to be there with them. It is a normal human reaction to go "well if you do not want to be here, we do not want you here either." Have a closed mind. You have to be willing to put in the effort to make the transition. If you wishing to view this as a temporary assignment, I would advise you to remain a student for another year. Having a closed mind about this experience means you will not have a good time. You rob yourself of the intrinsic benefits that a staff member gets from this experience. Also, the students will quickly pick up on this, and you will lose their respect.
Change #2: If you are accepted as a staff member, you are then no longer eligible to attend as a camper for any of the Trefoil Academy sponsored camps once you have taken one of the academy specific training. You may still attend that prior winter and spring camp as final camper experiences.
There are multiple reasons for this decision. In addition to the risk management reasons, you will never get the same camper experience if you try to go back. On top of that, you as well as the rest of the staff will have a hard time with transition backward. Instead, you are encouraged to continue applying or volunteer in other ways.
Please remember that if you apply and have never been accepted, you are more than welcome to register as a camper during your appropriate registration period.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I hope to see you soon as either a staff member, alumni or a student.
All staff, regardless of age, use the same application and application process.
Here is a glossary of terms that you will encounter in the course of completing the application:
Dates: 2019 TASS Dates: July 11th @ 1 pm to July 21st @ noon (Campers will be on site from July 14th - July 20th)2019 TASS Fee: $185*
*Must to be a 2018-2019 GS. Otherwise, accepted candidates will need pay an additional $32 to register with GSVSC at the time of registration.Training Requirements: GSVSC CIT Training (or Eq) as well as 30 hours of Academy Specific Training
Within the camp, we view all our staff as the same. Our insurance is through the Girl Scouts, there are different requirements to make sure individuals will be fully covered.
First off, please know that your volunteer service is greatly appreciated and valued.
Every camp has a limited number of available beds that may be allocated towards campers. The camp’s budget is calculated off of that number. This budget is what lets us rent the site, make sure our needs are met and offer a wide variety of programs to our camper. The biggest part of a camp’s budget is the cost of being able to operate (i.e. meals, renting the site and equipment, insurance etc.) The federal, state, and organization regulations change depending on if one is considered a minor or not. Furthermore, there are inherent expenses employing a staff member regardless of their age. Those expenses also have to be factored in when determining that year’s camper fee.
Associate Professors draw from the pool of available beds that could also be allocated towards campers. The loss of possible profitable income is worth it because the work that Associate Professors provide is highly valuable. The above fee cancels out the remaining baseline cost. (The cost of program and baseline professor employment cost has already been deducted from that number.) This creates a breakeven effect and prevents us from having to raise our camper fee further.
The fee is not refundable. Please make sure you will be able to come for the entire time you have been hired prior to applying!
Within the Girl Scouts, Prefects and Trailblazers are known as Counselors-In-Training (CITs). The GSVSC insurance requires that CITs attend a GSVSC approved CIT course. (If they have already passed a GSVSC CIT course, they do not have to take it again.)
Every Girl Scout camp employs their CITs differently. Some Girl Scout camps may have their CITs occasionally lead a song but otherwise, a CIT is treated like a camper. Other Girl Scout camps, like the academy, prefer to treat their CITs like staff the entire time.
The CIT course provides a minimum baseline across all the camps. It is up to each camp to train their CITs further to suit their respective needs.
It is critical that you pass this course. (Passing is not hard. You just have to participate.) Otherwise, the insurance will force us to drop you from the staff roster.
If you are not local to Skyline Council, please get in touch with the deputy director in charge of human resources as soon as possible after you are hired. She/He/They will help you in looking up possible courses. Before you sign up for any course, please obtain a copy of that course syllabus and share it with Ash, the director. She is also a Skyline Council CIT trainer and can tell if the council insurance will accept that course. We hate for you to take a course and have it rejected by the insurance!
Dates: 2019 TASS Dates: July 11th @ 1 pm to July 21st @ noon (Campers will be on site from July 14th - July 20th)
Applications will be accepted until October 31st @ 11:59 pm (EST).
The Summer Session staff team has always been a tight-knit group. In the interest of fairness to all parties, all applications will be treated the same regardless of the length of prior service.
You will receive a time sensitive online human resource packet. It will need to be completed within one week of receipt. This is especially important for those who are hired as counselors because your responses are needed in order to finalize this year’s program. December is a very busy month with preparing for camper registrations.
You will also receive a link to this year’s staff brain. All information in this online database is considered to be highly confidential. Please do not share it with anyone.
First, please know that you are still considered a heavily valued member of the Trefoil Academy family, and that we still care about you. This is not a rejection of you or a slight against any prior service. It is a highly competitive field with a lot of great applicants and a limited number of spaces.
Your application will be retained in case there are dropouts.
In the meantime, you are strongly encouraged to become involved in our Sanity’s Feathers Alumni Association.