We get asked this question a lot. The answer is – of course we accept parents on staff! But the real question we need to answer is, “Do we accept parents on staff who also have children at camp?”.
The answer to that one is – yes, but it’s complicated…
It should not be a surprise to any parent that children have distinct personalities and develop at different rates. This is what makes the job of parenting difficult – there is simply no “one size fits all” approach to being a good parent. Despite that, it is the job of a parent to guide their children through the process of growing up to become compassionate, productive, and independent adults.
Part of the process of guiding a child is allowing them to be in situations where they can safely “test the waters” and make their own mistakes. This is where Summer Camp becomes an excellent tool.
A week of Summer Camp is a great opportunity for parents to take a break and enjoy their own vacation. While at the same time, they can be assured that their child is in excellent hands, having a great time, enjoying new friendships, and learning to navigate many important life situations independently.
From a parenting perspective, we recognize that our child emerges from this carefully structured experience with tools and perspectives that we could never teach them on our own. From the campers’s perspective, a successful camp experience is something that stays with them for the rest of their life. It informs many of their future decisions and colors their future relationships in ways that only they can explain many years later.
Where it gets complicated is when parents are on staff when their child is at camp. For the camp experience to be successful, the camper must have the opportunity to be independent, and free of parental judgement and critique. At the same time, the camper has to be willing to navigate the camp experience without seeking out their parent for comfort and reassurance.
Not all campers and parents are capable of making this a successful experience. So as a parent of a camper who is considering applying for a staff position, you need to consider the following:
- Will you take your role as a staff member seriously? Your role at camp is to fill an integral position on a team that is responsible for the lives and well being of 50-100 campers.
- This will be an enriching experience for you, and it will be an enriching experience for your child, but it will not be an enriching shared experience. You will be busy with your own duties, and your child will be part of the camp program. Ideally, you will rarely, if ever, intersect.
- If you revert to the role of parent, you are not fulfilling your own duties, and are potentially undermining their cabin counselors. You may also be making it harder for them to form bonds with their cabin mates.
- If your child seeks you out at camp, are you able to gently but firmly, redirect them back to their counselor without addressing their needs, regardless of the size of their request?
- Are you able to remain detached and let their counselor handle the situation when your child encounters a difficult situation at camp?
- If you are completely honest with yourself, do you feel like you are going to have difficulty focusing on your own job duties while your camper has their own independent camp experience?
This is not a comprehensive set things to consider, but they should help get the conversation started and convey a general idea of what is expected of you as a staff member. We take the role of staff very seriously and expect you to as well.
To sum up, yes, we would absolutely love to have you on staff. But only if you honestly believe that you and your camper are ready to make this a great independent experience for both of you!
If you are still interested in joining us on staff, you can find our application instructions here.