For many families with young children, summer is a time to send their children to resident or day camps. But, what about your tween or teen? They can still benefit from summer camps --by working at one! Many summer camps have a program for the teenage camper called Counselor In Training (CIT). This program is typically for campers that have been campers and have outgrown the "camper program," but are not old enough to be considered for staff.
What to expect as a Counselor in training
The CIT's still pay camp tuition, but usually at half the cost. Accordingly, the CIT's spend half of their time at camp enjoying traditional camp activities. The other half of their time is spent "working" or helping out around the camp. CIT's may be helping in the dining hall, camp beautification projects, helping with camper luggage on arrival and departure days or other labor type tasks. The CIT program is usually a commitment for half or the whole summer.
CITs can also help out in program areas too. For example, they might help campers put on life jackets at boating, saddle up the horses for riding or read off tags on the buddy board at the waterfront.
Cabins usually will have a counselor and a CIT assigned to a camper group. While the counselor is in charge of the cabin, the CIT will act as the role model for the campers. He/she may help campers with hygiene, sun screen and bug spray application. Often times since the CIT is a recent camper graduate, he or she will be key in helping the campers with making up skits for talent show nights, cook out menus and teaching traditional crazy camp songs that are popular with that particular camp.
CITs don't get a day off, are not allowed in staff - only lounges and are not required to attend staff training week. They may get a weekly evening off and be dropped off in town for an ice cream or pizza.
Junior counselor program
Some camps have a CIT program that spans for 2 summers -- CIT I and II, while other camps have a Junior Counselor program (JC). JC are CIT graduates working their way to a staff position. This position usually requires the whole 8 week summer and pays -- but very little. JC are usually required to attend the staff training week prior to camp opening. They are assigned a counselor to work with and a cabin to live with, performing many of the same duties as the CIT's. A JC can do more in the program area, maybe teach arts and crafts, help lifeguards or co-teach a swimming class with proper Red Cross certifications. They are allowed in staff lounges and have a weekly day off.
The year as a JC can make or break the teens ability to secure a staff position. The Camp Director will often ask the staff their input when it comes time to write the end of the season evaluations for the CIT's and JC. How can you secure a staff position? As a CIT or JC you should try to work with and get to know all the staff.
Research the camp
It is recommended that you check with the camp directly to find out in more detail the jobs available for the teenagers. Keep in mind neither the CIT nor the JC should be left alone with campers. They are there to assist the staff. Some camps have great CIT and JC programs which would involve leadership training and organized by an adult as the CIT Director. Be careful of some camps that take advantage of the teen which could result in endless labor type activities.
For teens just looking for a summer job and are not really interested in a future staff position, there are many camps that hire teens for dishwashers, dining hall help or maintenance and groundskeeping positions.
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