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Hello,

  This summer I will be working as Paid Camp Staff for the first time (Camp Kern, CA). I was asking to see if the forum had advice for me and all new Camp Staff (what to bring, what not to bring, compensation, etc.). Additionally, I thought it would be kinda cool to hear everyone’s stories from there time on staff

Thanks

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Posted (edited)

Hey!

I am currently a scout, and I have worked at a summer camp last year and this summer as well. 

Highest Suggestion: Don’t bring your footlocker, go to Walmart and buy one of those plastic drawers to keep your clothes in. Trust me, I’m getting one this year.

Make sure to bring a backpack with you as you will be on the move, depending on the program area you are in. I was in the first year scout program, so I was always on the move. 

 

What program area are you going to be in? Do you have to come home each week due to being under 18? (If you are under 18)

 

Finally, you will have the best summer of your life. The camp I worked at was 3 hours away in another state and I still talk daily with the friends I made from there. Trust me, you will find your group of friends quickly.

 

Feel free to ask any other questions!

Edited by ItsBrian
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My kids found the following things helpful sometimes indispensable while camp staffing for 4 summers. They had the time of their lives at camp. Daughter is staffing Philmont PTC this year and son is staffing a snowboard camp on Mt. Hood. You never know where a camp staff job will lead. Have a great summer.

 

Large plastic tote boxes with tight/snap on lid - keeps stuff clean/dry and reduces critters in your snacks

battery alarm clock - cell phones don't always charge or stay charged, have a back up

phone charging brick - for above, you can get them cheap and cheap ones work just as well as expensive ones

a small rug or carpet squares for beside your bed in your tent - nothing worse than stepping out of bed and getting a splinter

a folding chair - good for kicking back in staff village

cards, books, board games

SNACKS!!!! - put in box listed above

A rain suit and a poncho & rubber rain boots - if you have to do a severe weather round up at 2:30 AM boots are nice to pull on and keep your hiking boots dry for the day

Clothes hangers, clothes pins, and a length of paracord - you can make a makeshift laundry area and air out those staff uniforms

Small fridge - my kids camp allowed a small bar fridge in each tent, kept drinks cold, had to be unplugged if tenters left camp for the night. They used my ancient college one, but now is the time to look in thrift stores near colleges for them, they are cheap 

lots of small flashlights and extra batteries - flashlights are worth their weight in gold and disappear all summer long, get cheap ones to give as 'loaners' that never come back

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Posted (edited)

I spent two years at my local summer camp. 

Besides what you can bring, just be open and take it all in. Those two summers truly are the best two summers of my life (so far). Meet new people, get to know the personalities behind the staff members that you've seen for years. While it is a job and those scouts are there for merit badges, remember to talk to them just like normal people. Have conversations with them, if you see them around camp say hi. Create memories for yourself with your new family, but it's a great feeling when the scouts attending camp take time between their sessions to come say hi because it means you're making an impact.

Also, don't stress. It's a great and very fulfilling job and the entire senior staff wants you to succeed and do well and are there if you need help. Camp staff teaches you some incredible skills.

Edited by Drastent
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Most fun job I've ever had. Also lowest paying, but I'm glad I staffed camp and still keep in touch with fellow staff members. 

Just enjoy it, make new friends. Get enough SLEEP. It is a job and the campers are paying for camp, not the Walking Dead: Staff edition. 

Bring your own snacks, camp food loses what appeal it has after a week or so. 

Know the material for the badges you teach. Make them as fun and active as you can. Try to get the scouts doing stuff. 

Have a great summer! 

 

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Where to begin.

For one camp I bought a wetsuit. Water temps were in the 50s, and after getting hypothermia once due to water submersion,  I HATE cold water. Despite being laughed at by the Laplander, wore it every time I went kayaking, or canoeing as the Brits called it. Best investment. At that same camp, I had my Smokey Bear hat. Glad I did have a wide brimmed hat because when I was not on the water, I was on the rifle range. If you are going to be in the sun, any wide brimmed hat is a must.

When I was COPE director,  I went out and bought my own harness before camp. Pricey, but well worth it. More comfortable and less bulky than the ones the camp bought since they were one size fits most.

For another camp I worked at,  radio and loud cheery music. The Scouters in camp thought I was the most important person as I drove around camp delivering coffee and newspapers in the morning. After Reveille was played, the Scouters knew coffee was on  the way when they heard 'You are my Sunshine" baring from my car. :) Coffee is your friend! 😎

 

 But the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT thing to have is A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE!  Camp staff is fun, i did a total of 5 years at  4 different camps. While there is a lot of fun, there is at times stress and frustration. 2 AM Lost Campers in the rain is not fun. Dealing with ticked off SMs because you kicked out their misbehaving Scouts from you class is frustrating. Worse is when the PD says you cannot kick them out, and you are stuck with them in the class the rest of the week. THEN having to deal with the ticked off SMs because their Scouts did not complete the MB because of the problem Scouts above is frustrating.

But the friendships you make, the Scouts you meet,  and the fun you have more than compensate.  The closest I've had to those Summer camp days has been working Cub Scout Day Camp. That and when I go with my troop to summer camp. I am usually in Aquatics

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  • Unscented soaps and shampoo, helps keep the bugs away
  • Small shampoos (hotel type) and liquid soaps as you will leave them in the shower
  • Snacks and good container to keep them in
  • Good walking shoes, try to vary each day
  • If you have one a fitbit or step tracker is kind of fun, you will be amazed at the number of steps each day
  • As has been noted, good daypack to keep all your stuff in during the walking about camp
  • Water bottle, but honestly after week 1 at camp the campers will leave plenty of them around and you will have your pick
  • Good towel, but honestly after week 1 at camp the campers will leave plenty of them around and you will have your pick
  • A second Class A shirt, they can get gamey as the week progresses
  • Cheap sunglasses and a cord to keep them, you will be in the sun a great deal
  • Hammock
  • Good socks

 

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Congratulations Chief, you're going to remember this summer for the rest of your life!  I was a staffer at Camp Gorsuch in Chugiak, Alaska, 78 - 80.  Many, many wonderful memories. 

The suggestions above are spot on.  But I'll second @Eagle94-A1's insight:  bring a positive mental attitude.  It rained almost every day at Camp Gorsuch, but we staffers put a brave face on it, joked about it, and carried on anyway.  The campers picked up on it and were encouraged and positive as well.

Later in the summer, please pass along your thoughts and stories, we'd like to hear about them!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the tips so far!

just to awnser a question I will be a Lifeguard (and waterfront MB teacher), this camp is on Huntington Lake and there is no pool. The camp is about a 2hr drive from home so I can come home each weekend but am not required to.

Staff are provided cabins to stay in which have power but no HVAC.

thanks for all the advice so far, please keep it up

Edited by chief027
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Be the staffer the young scouts think you are. The youth staff are larger than life to young scouts. They will leave camp wanting to be like "that" staffer. I told my scouts who staffed camp to not burst that bubble. Don't swear, don't mock. Be bold, daring, a friend, and be fair. Be different, but be yourself. You can't fake being cool. You gotta be your own cool. I know of scouts who learned to play the guitar because they were inspired by a staffer. Another learn to tell jokes and be quick with cleaver quotes to help people feel better, just because of a camp staffer. Quiet staffers who model confidence inspire shy want-a-be leaders. The waterfront is a serious area, show that seriousness with humanity, and humility. You are likely creating a vision for young scouts to work toward. Be the staffer the young scouts think you are.

Barry

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8 hours ago, chief027 said:

Thanks for all the tips so far!

just to awnser a question I will be a Lifeguard (and waterfront MB teacher), this camp is on Huntington Lake and there is no pool. The camp is about a 2hr drive from home so I can come home each weekend but am not required to.

Staff are provided cabins to stay in which have power but no HVAC.

thanks for all the advice so far, please keep it up

Lucky!! I had to come home every weekend due to being under 18. Same for this year.. I’m jealous you have cabins.

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2 hours ago, ItsBrian said:

Lucky!! I had to come home every weekend due to being under 18. Same for this year.. I’m jealous you have cabins.

Yeah the staff pretty much all stay in camp on the weekend because the council that runs the camp is about 3-6hrs away(depending on where in the council)  from the camp so it isn’t really an option to leave. It sucks that you don’t get cabins, but as long as the tent is big enough it’s not ideal but doable 

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My son the former camp lifeguard recommends a good pair sandals. Think Chaco, Teva, or some other sturdy, hard soled, arch supporting sandal and don't use them as shower sandals. The dock can can get hard and hot. He also said a good pair of water shoes, think aquatic tennis shoes, will come in handy especially if your beach has a rocky bottom. He wore those when he worked boating. He also said have multiple bathing suits and change them regularly, dry them thoroughly and wash frequently. He changed his after polar bear swim, after lunch, and for evening flags.  He learned the hard way that chaffing sucks.

My daughter said to make sure that you take a few minutes everyday and 'escape' camp to keep your sanity. Take a walk, read a few pages of a book, listen to your go to playlist, watch part of your favorite movie that you downloaded to your phone, draw, write a journal. Just do something that removes your brain from camp mode each day.

They wish you all the best. Have the time of your life.

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34 minutes ago, bsaggcmom said:

 

My daughter said to make sure that you take a few minutes everyday and 'escape' camp to keep your sanity. Take a walk, read a few pages of a book, listen to your go to playlist, watch part of your favorite movie that you downloaded to your phone, draw, write a journal. Just do something that removes your brain from camp mode each day.

They wish you all the best. Have the time of your life.

Yes... biggest thing and shocked that it came up this late.

Espescially if you have a group of younger scouts (or work in first year like I do), it could drive you insane. There will be nights where you had a bad day or you are extremely exhausted and you just need to take a nap or go to sleep early. You’ll be thankful for a minute of sitting in your cabin or tent without anyone bothering you. It was actually one of the first things the camp leadership told us.

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