As a former Camp Director, I remember an all-camp night game when a camper had rolled an ankle. I scanned a group of staff in the vicinity and quickly picked a staff. Their total focus was instantaneous as they saw my expression and asked what was needed, listened, nodded and got straight to it. I had made the right choice – and they were my youngest staff.
At Farm & Wilderness we want the absolute best staff each summer. In my twenty years as a Director, I have found that a few years of age difference is not a determining factor of maturity. I am consistently impressed by so many of our campers – they are high achievers already proving their capabilities outside of camp. We want to get in on that talent pool early, give them a formative experience and a reason to dedicate their summer to being educators with us. Other former campers are diamonds in the rough. They may not have achieved the accolades of their peers for any number of reasons – yet they have always thrived at camp. We want to keep this symbiotic relationship going – we offer trust, hard work, and an unprecedented number of growth opportunities and in return, the community receives these young staff members’ best selves. They serve as role models for the next generation. Just as our older campers provide a benchmark for younger campers, young staff provide the benchmark for older campers.
As a parent of three, our house has received its share of gilded letters inviting our kids to be part of some high-powered summer program to advance their skills – often riding on the prestige of the institution such as summer art classes at RISD or film at NYU. These programs can be useful but are also essentially “pay to play” - you can get in and get the resume boost by paying the large fee and showing up. These summer programs simply do not offer the same experience and responsibility as being both employed and a vital and contributing member of a community. We have an extensive hiring and screening process because we know that everyone single hire is vital and important due to the direct impact on the campers they are caring for. A lot will be asked of each staff member – and a lot of support will be provided in a training session and ongoing coaching. Being part of a team that responds by giving its best – and then giving more – is an extraordinary experience. Its exhausting, and a lot of fun.
Young staff members bring an abundance of simple energy and joy for their camp – essential elements for a great summer. In the pandemic summer of 2021, one of the biggest challenges was to make our iconic, elaborate night games like “Spy Night” playable in cohorts and with social distancing and without turning them into pale shadows of past summer games. The seventeen-year-old staff stepped up and designed brilliant alternatives. The youngest staff members demonstrated 21st-century skills of pivoting and designing a responsive solution for demanding customers that any employer will value. Being a role model for young people, putting them to bed with patience, and waking them up with inspiration and energy day after day for six weeks is the sort of experience that tests your character in a fundamental way. The young staff who went back to their final year of high school knowing they could not just do this grown adult’s job but be praised for excelling gained a level of confidence and renewed purpose that they can make a difference in this world that will serve them throughout their career and life path. We are looking for the best staff and ready to help them be successful. Do you know someone ready for this challenge? Encourage them to visit our website and apply.