NBTSC Worktrades, 2013
Here’s what you need to know before applying for a worktrade. After you’ve digested all this and are sure you want to apply, you’ll do that online. (Simple to do after you’ve registered for camp.)
Application deadline is March 31.
For campers with special skills and for families who couldn't otherwise afford NBTSC, we offer a variety of worktrade positions. Here's what you need to know before applying. Please read carefully to avoid misunderstandings!
Because it makes sense for many people to apply for more than one type of trade, we have just one combined application process.
If it is important to you to get into NBTSC with a reduced fee, we encourage you to apply for as many types of worktrades as you would be willing to accept. The most difficult positions to get are often (but not always) full worktrades -- we strongly encourage you to apply for one if you like to work hard, but you stand a better chance of getting some kind of assistance if you're also willing to take a partial trade. (We give full worktrades to just a few reliable, hardworking people we know from previous camps; financial need is a factor, but less important than the applicant's ability to convince us that we'll be happy we chose her/him.) If we can't give you the kind of worktrade you say you're interested in, it's possible we'll offer you a smaller worktrade instead. (Such as: if you apply for a half worktrade and we can't give you one, it might be possible for us to offer you a $100 worktrade instead.) You're free to turn us down, of course, if we offer you something you don't want.
Also, while you can specify all kinds of parameters when you apply for a worktrade—kinds of work you aren’t willing to do, limiting the number of hours you want to work during camp, etc.—the more limits you set, the less likely we will choose you. Seems like common sense to us, but sometimes there are so many stipulations on a person’s application that we wonder if this thought hasn’t occurred to them.
In order to apply for any kind of worktrade, you must also register for camp and send in a deposit, by March 31. If you do not receive a worktrade you are not obligated to attend NBTSC. When you register, you will be asked whether you will attend NBTSC whether or not you receive a worktrade. Answer “no” if you want your deposit back.
We rarely give worktrades to one individual for more than one session per year. Also, people who are planning to attend more than one session of camp do get lower priority, since our purpose is mainly to make it possible for people who can't afford camp to be able to come to at least one session. There are exceptions to these policies, though. In fact, it occasionally happens that we’ll give a full worktrade to someone rock-solid for one or even two sessions, and they attend as a regular camper another session also.
We take all applications seriously, and try to give trades to as many people as possible, sometimes even when we need to exceed our budget to do so. For this reason, we ask you also to take this process seriously, and to apply only if you really need financial assistance and sincerely want to take on the responsibility of a worktrade.
Notes on filling out the application
In most cases, the camper and parents should collaborate. If an application describes the parents' financial situation (most do), then parents must at the very least read it over and sign it.
The application will instruct you: "Please explain your family’s financial situation, telling why it would be helpful for you to receive financial assistance. " Sometimes people say not much more than "money is tight." That doesn't tell us much - maybe it's tight because you'd rather spend it on clothes or a cruise. "Four of us are living on a teacher's salary" is a little better, but really not that helpful. Specific numbers can be useful if you're willing to share them, but so can explanatory info such as:
We are a single parent household: my brother, my mom, and me. My mom works part time so that we can unschool. Although my parents have been divorced for a long time, my dad has only recently stopped supporting my "extra" activities financially. Sometimes just paying for our regular monthly expenses is challenging, so saving up for extras can be difficult. I'm used to doing yardwork for neighbors and working to pay for a lot of my extras and I have a plan for paying for NBTSC, but without the worktrade, it will be extremely difficult for me to save the full tuition.
A note for parents who consider their child financially independent
We sometimes get odd little comments from parents about how they don't want to provide information about their own financial situation, because they require their kids to pay for their own camp and other "elective" expenses. Well, we are all for youth taking responsibility for their own dreams, but some of these comments seem to imply that since the parents don't want to financially support their kids' interests, it is therefore our job to do so. We find this a little off-putting, and it doesn't usually inspire us to give financial assistance to a family.
(But, campers, don't despair -- we also realize that occasionally there's a prospective camper whose parents aren't sold on unschooling and therefore don't want to pay for NBTSC. Please do explain your situation to us. Not because we want to undermine your parents in any way--we don't!--but because we can understand that sometimes adults have a hard time financially supporting something they don't feel great about. If your parents stretch to say "Yes, you can go," but can't quite bring themselves to say "And yes, we'll pay for it," and if you personally are financially really strapped.... well, save up your babysitting money, but also apply for a worktrade, and--without being dramatic or self-pitying about it, please--err on the side of too much information.)
Make sure your online account has your accurate, current email addresses (for the camper and at least one parent). Unless you tell us you don't have email, this is the only way we will notify you whether you received a worktrade. Make sure you check your email, and let us know if your email address changes. Make extra-sure that your filter understands that we are not spam: while we keep your personal information private, we do send out our worktrade-response emails in batches. (Corollary: If April 30 has come and gone and you don't seem to have heard from us, check your spam folder.)
The application deadline is March 31. It takes a while for us to carefully read all the applications and consider them in relation to each other and to our needs and our budget. We’ll get back to you, via email, by April 30.
- We rarely give worktrades to individuals older than 18. (We focus our resources on people of regular camp age.)
- All campers are assigned approximately 4 hours of work during a 7-night camp week, and worktrade expectations are in addition to that basic requirement. To keep worktraders’ schedules from getting too complicated, they usually do the same type of work both for their regular camp chores and for their worktrade.
- We used to have a more open-ended worktrade application, in which we invited campers to propose trade or barter situations outside of the standard “work at camp in exchange for a discount” arrangement. For the most part, we don’t invite those proposals anymore, since we were rarely able to say yes to them and they ended up draining our time and disappointing the people making these (creative and wonderful) offers. But.... if you have something wonderful to offer that doesn’t fit into our normal application process, you can always email Grace about it. Just please be prepared to receive a short, though friendly, “no thanks.”
Want to trade food?
Our kitchen staff is undergoing some change, but food is typically something that we do like to trade or buy -- if your family can provide eggs from humanely raised chickens, or organic vegetables, etc., we want to hear from you. We expect to pay (or trade at) wholesale prices as we do for all our food, but we love when food can come directly from camp families. Don’t use the worktrade application as a way to broach this topic; just send us an email telling us what you can offer and any other details you want to share. We may be a little slow getting back to you -- your email may need to get forwarded a few times before a decision can be made.
Um, worktrades involve work.
Except for “easy worktrades,” which don’t have such a big impact on a camper’s experience (and are available only to new campers), worktrades are for people seriously interested in working at camp and helping significantly to meet the needs of NBTSC. Certain things come with that territory: you don’t get to pick your own hours or make your own schedule. While we do our best to create pleasant work conditions, there is real work that needs to be done, and most of it needs to happen at certain times rather than at a camper’s convenience. We do offer the chance to state preferences and limits in your application, but once you agree to a worktrade that we’ve offered, you don’t get to specify additional parameters. Many campers apply for worktrades year after year, and it’s important for you to know that if you get less than a glowing review from your supervisors, we’ll be hesitant to “hire” you again the next year. (We know that teenagers grow and change rapidly, so two years down the line we’ll likely take your application seriously again, having a thorough conversation with your references to avoid regrets.)
When you apply for a worktrade, you are basically telling us: “I want to earn my camp money at camp rather than in some other way before camp.” Just as we don’t think people should spend their lives at careers that don’t inspire them, we also don’t think you should apply for a worktrade with us if you aren’t inspired about the idea of helping make NBTSC go round.
NBTSC worktrade categories
Available only to financially challenged brand-new campers.
We don't give absolutely-no-strings-attached scholarships, except in unusual circumstances. But we do offer something close —“easy worktrades,” which reduce your camp fee by half. We ask you only to work 6 hours per week during a 7-night camp week (which means 12 hours during a 2-week session)—most likely you would be assigned a simple one-hour task to do daily on each full day of camp. We encourage you to also apply for a half or partial worktrade, in order to increase your chances.
We do not offer easy worktrades for the Vermont retreat, because we don't expect any brand-new campers there. Everyone will have participated already in the main Vermont session, and/or been a longtime NBTSC camper.
Available to all certified lifeguards.
We enthusiastically offer worktrades at Oregon Session 1 and in Vermont for certified lifeguards. (For Vermont, your certification must be American Red Cross.) These positions are not tied to your family's financial situation—it you're certified, we want to hear from you! You can apply for a lifeguard position in addition to or instead of other worktrades. The application deadline is now the same as for other worktrades -- March 31 -- and we strongly prefer that you apply online by this date. However, if you miss that deadline you can contact us later to find out if we are still interested in having more lifeguards. We can occasionally work out informal arrangements later in the season. (This doesn’t apply to any other category of worktrade -- we are otherwise strict about our March 31 deadline.)
$100 and $200 worktrades
Who’s eligible: solid, willing, reliable workers--camp history or lack thereof not a factor.
($100 worktrades available for one week sessions including the Vermont main session and the Vermont retreat; $200 for two-week session.) If you want to reduce your camp fee but not cut too hard into your freedom to plan your own days at camp, this might be a good option. You work 10 hours per camp week, credited at $10 per hour. You are trained at the start of camp and do not need to arrive early or stay late after camp. You will not be asked to work during special evening events, projects, or field trips (unless you want to).
Who’s eligible: solid, willing, reliable workers who are happy to make a serious commitment and prioritize their worktrade over other camp activities.
Half worktrades are a serious commitment, requiring a camper to work 4-5 hours most days of camp. Half worktraders at Oregon Session 2 or Vermont cannot sign up for committed projects, nor for the Oregon field trip. (You can participate in a drop-in project, but may not be able to attend some or all of it.) It is also possible that you will need to work during one special evening event (such as bonding night, trust circle, part of prom, etc.). We won't ask you to do this unless we need the help, and only one event per session, but we need you to be available if asked.
Half worktraders are normally trained during the actual camp session and do not need to arrive early or stay late. (But, if you are able to arrive a day or two early, or stay a few hours late, we may be able to make special arrangements with you, and then you could get some of your work out of the way before or after camp.) (In past years Vermont half worktraders were asked to arrive 4 hours early, but we are dropping that expectation for 2013.)
Full camp-session worktrades
Who’s eligible: solid, willing, reliable workers who’ve been at NBTSC previously and can commit to arriving at camp a day or two early, and staying late.
Our full worktraders are a breed unto themselves -- this is an intense position, almost like being on junior staff. In choosing these folks we do consider financial need, but the most important factor is our trust in the applicant's ability and willingness to joyfully handle the job. Full worktraders attend camp without paying any money; instead, they work about 50 hours over the course of 8-10 calendar days. (For the Vermont extended-week session, more like 64 hours over the course of 12 calendar days.) If you are a full worktrader, you can expect your camp experience to be largely about the rewards of working hard to support something you believe in, and of helping to create a great experience for other campers and staff. For the right person, this is not only a way to attend NBTSC money-free, but also a deeply enriching experience in its own right. Because these positions are scarce, we strongly encourage you also to apply for a half or partial worktrade. But we don't want to discourage you from applying for a full worktrade--we need reliable people, and in fact if there came a time when we didn't get enough solid camper applicants, we'd need to hire more staff instead.
Full worktraders must come prepared to think of themselves as workers first and campers second. Although you will be assigned to an advisee group, you may sometimes be needed to work during advisee time--or during talent shows, Oregon projects, evening events, early in the morning, during the Oregon field trip to the coast, etc. (Oregon Session 2 and Vermont full worktraders can’t sign up for a committed project or for the field trip.) It is also possible that you will need to work during one or two special evening events (such as bonding night, trust circle, part of prom, etc.). We won't ask you to do this unless we need the help, and only one event per camp week, but we need you to be available if asked. A cooperative, willing spirit is essential--we don't want to nag. (And, of course, we want you to have a great time and will never assign you work at inconvenient times without a reason.)
Schedule and responsibilities
Full work traders are needed for 4-7 hours each full day of camp, plus possibly 6-8 hours on each of the 1 or 2 days before camp starts, the first day of camp, and/or the day camp ends. (About 50 hours total, per 7-night camp session, prorated for longer or shorter sessions.) Work consists of anything we need done that you can do--from scrubbing pots and pans to babysitting to chopping vegetables to running errands to cooking oatmeal.
We expect full worktraders to arrive early and stay late.
We’ll most likely need your help starting one or two days prior to camp. For Oregon Session 1 you can meet us in Medford or directly at Camp Latgawa. (You may also be able to arrange a carpool with staff from Eugene, but no guarantees.) For Oregon Session 2 you can meet us (on Sunday) at Camp Myrtlewood or in Eugene. For Vermont we may be able to help arrange a ride with staff from Rutland or White River Junction, but you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself to Farm & Wilderness.
We will also need your help until 4 or 5 p.m. on the last day of camp, except at Oregon Session 1, and you will need to provide your own overnight accommodations afterward.
If we award you a full worktrade, we will let you know then exactly what time and day you need to show up and how late you’ll need to stay.
Important deposit, refund, and rebate information for full worktraders
You actually have to pay $250 to register for camp, but you get it all back if you hold up your end:
- Like everyone else, you send in a $150 deposit with your registration. Once we grant you a full worktrade and you confirm that you accept it, we will count on you. If you cancel after our regular cancellation deadline, you won't receive any of your $150 deposit back. (It’s difficult for us to reconfigure the worktrader lineup this late in the season.) Assuming you show up at camp and fulfill your worktrade agreement, we will happily refund your deposit after camp. If you don't complete your worktrade hours, you won't get your deposit back. (Also see our refund policy.)
- Also, we need you to get your paperwork and money in on time just like everybody else. If you meet the requirements for the rebate, you get your $100 rebate.
Oregon Session 2 one-week full worktrades
Available to hardworking, reliable returning campers (not new campers) who can provide their own transportation and lodging (i.e. tent or vehicle), and who can be present for 8-10 days.
We don't normally offer full worktrades for our two-week session -- we don’t think it’s healthy or realistic for an individual camper to take on that much work for that long. But we do want to offer a way for a few hardworking, reliable individuals to be at our Camp Myrtlewood session without needing to pay in money. Hence, the one-week full worktrade. These folks will need to understand that the camp schedule will not coincide with their own coming and going -- they’ll either depart or arrive, with little fanfare, smack in the middle of everybody else’s longer session. They’ll be part of a regular advisee group, but must provide their own transportation to and from Camp Myrtlewood and will need to bring a tent or vehicle to sleep in. We may assign you to our 2-day staff orientation and then the first part of camp, or to the second half of camp plus departure and closing responsibilities. (Don’t apply for one of these worktrades if you intend to be present for the full two-week session; in that case, it would make sense for you to apply instead for a half worktrade for the whole session.)
Also see "important deposit, refund, and rebate information for full worktraders, above."
Vermont full worktrades
These are available only for the main session or the retreat -- not the full two-week shindig. As with Oregon Session 2, we think that a two-week full worktrade just involves too much work. But, you can register for the full two weeks, and then apply for a full worktrade for just one of the two sub-events.
- Worktrade amounts are discounts from the camp pricetag, not amounts-to-pay.
- Rebates: all worktraders, including full worktraders, must earn back their rebate just like any other camper. Hence, all “half” discounts and such are calculated from the total (early registration) cost, minus the $100 rebate amount.
- Deposits: All worktrade applicants -- including full worktrade applicants -- pay the $150 camp deposit, just like everyone else. For most worktraders it just goes toward the amount you still owe us. For full worktraders, it acts as collateral: come to camp and fulfill your worktrade agreement, and we refund that deposit right after camp. But if you cancel your registration after our cancellation deadline or simply don’t show up, you forfeit your deposit. If you come to camp and don’t do your worktrade, you don’t get it back either. (Not to mislead--our full worktraders have almost never let us down; quite the opposite.)
- Campers with half-or-greater worktrades are not typically eligible for the multiple session $100 discount. That is, if you register for two sessions and are given a half worktrade for one session, you pay full price for the additional session. (Why? Because you are already getting a discount. We credit your work at roughly $9 per hour - that's more than what most staff earn, by the way - and your worktrade discount generally adds up to much more - around $100 more - than what you earn by working.)
But, if you register for two more sessions, in addition to your worktrade session/s, the $100 discount applies to the second non-worktrade session. (And if you have only a $100/$200 worktrade, you are fully eligible for the $100 multiple session discount.)
Specific discounts and work requirements
Oregon Session 1 (Camp Latgawa)
- full worktrade $630, 50 hours
- easy WT, 6 hrs, $315
- half WT, 24 hrs, $315
- $100 WT, 10 hrs
Oregon Session 2 (Camp Myrtlewood, 2 weeks)
- no full 2-week worktrades
- half worktrade, $550, 48 hours
- easy worktrades, $550, 12 hrs
- $200 WT, 20 hrs
- One-week full worktrade, $550, 50 hours
Vermont (full 2 weeks)
- no full 2-week worktrades
- half worktrade, $550, 48 hours
- easy worktrades, $550, 12 hrs
- $200 WT, 20 hrs
Vermont main session (extended week, 9 nights)
- full worktrade, $830, 64 hours
- easy WT, 8 hrs, $415
- half WT, 30 hrs, $415
- $100 WT, 10 hrs
Vermont retreat (short week, 5 nights)
- full worktrade, $430, 35 hours
- half WT, 18 hrs, $215
- $100 WT, 10 hrs
Photo by Alex Davis--2002, West Virginia