Join Our Staff

Want to be on staff? Here’s what you need to know. (This was written – a long time ago – by Grace, so that’s the “I.”)

One day, an advisor walked into our evening staff meeting and said, “A camper just asked me, ‘What do you have to do in order to be on staff? What are the qualifications?’ And I realized I didn’t know the answer. So, what is the answer?”

Without hesitation, I said, “Well. First and foremost, you have to live your lives in such a way that I think you are great role models for our campers. It’s a full time career.” I’d never thought of it exactly that way before, but it made sense to all of us once I’d said it.

Another day, an advisor walked into our evening staff meeting and said, “A camper just told me, ‘I figured it out! In order to be on staff, you have to be sexy. Think about it–every single one of you is gorgeous!'” A silence ensued, during which we scrutinized each other. And it was true! Not, you know, like many of us would qualify for the pages of a fashion magazine, but in a sort of all-shapes-and-sizes, radiant, healthy, happy-from-the-heart, and uniquely stylish way. Busted. We all got a big laugh out of that one.

But when I hire, what I mainly think about with my conscious brain are these things:

1) First, I hire mostly repeat staff from previous years. Continuity is good in our intense, fast-paced, high energy setting.

2) I also bring in new staff each year. Freshness and outside perspective is very good for our tight, close community.

3) Diversity is important in many ways. I don’t have quotas of anything, but I like to have people who are younger and people who are older, people who used to be campers and people who did not, people who embody a variety of ethnicities, people who are parents and people who are not, people who grew up unschooling and people who are educated and socially competent even though they didn’t, people who are good at connecting with campers one-on-one and people who are good at leading a group of 120 in a wild game, people who can sing and dance and people who can lead a night hike, people who love to chase balls and people who love to read books, people who are male and people who are female and people who consider themselves not precisely either, and etc. You get the picture.

4) Each staff person needs to be someone I trust to
*take a sincere interest in working with, getting to know, learning from, enjoying, and offering support and respectful leadership to campers.
*come to camp with a cooperative, friendly, willing attitude toward directors, staff, and campers.
*take responsibility for his own happiness and well-being.
*look for ways to be helpful beyond her official job description.

5) Each staff person also needs to have some particular quality, skill, or expertise that makes them uniquely valuable at camp–whether that is world class pizza talent, the ability to empathize with but not indulge an angry kid, a series of inspiring workshops up their sleeve, or magic hands that make sick people well.

Photo: the original 1996 staff in Grace’s garden, back: Josanna, Reeva, Ned, Sarahjoy, Skip, Chuck, Kyla, Billy. Front: Colleen, Grace, Janet.
(That’s right: 90 campers, 11 staff, no junior staff; and all of us, even the cooks, advised. What were we thinking?!)

If you’re interested in joining us

Send an email to our staff liaison.

We make an attempt to acknowledge all emails, but if you haven’t heard back within a couple weeks please prompt us. (We usually have to say “thanks so much but we’re full up,” but you never know, and we are always thrilled to hear from prospective staff.) We make most of our staff decisions between January and April of each year, but sometimes are still hiring later than that.

If it’s been a year or more since you let us know you’re interested, and you’re still interested, please let us know (and remind us that you have contacted us in the past). We do take your interest in NBTSC seriously and we are grateful for it and we will make a spot for you if we can!

Junior staff applications are posted annually on our website.

About volunteering: we often hear from talented people who want to come donate their services. We greatly appreciate these offers, but we only have room for occasional volunteers. One issue is just that–room. We sometimes overfill our retreat centers, taxing the water systems, crowding the dining halls, and using every available bed. We cannot necessarily invite more bodies into the mix, no matter how helpful. Also, we do have direct costs associated with each volunteer, ranging from about $150 to $600 per week, and we can’t always afford to make room in our budget for that. Don’t hesitate to ask, but please don’t take it personally if we can’t use you.

If you have worked at camp in the past and are interested in coming again, just fire off an email and we’ll add you to our list of potentials.

If you have attended NBTSC as a camper, and are now interested in working on staff, please send an email (and resume if you have one) as described above. If you are pretty young (19-22 range) then we’d probably hire you first as a junior staffer, so you’d best fill out a junior staff application.

Please don’t take it personally if we don’t hire you. Each year we hear from dozens of new folks who want to join our staff, and many of them have amazing resumes, and we can usually only take about 2-3 new people per session. (That doesn’t mean nobody gets in without an amazing resume, though, so don’t give up before you try!)

Photo of Ted Joblin, night watchperson 2002 West Virginia, by Alex Davis.


positions (sometimes) available

Advisor–teach workshops, be big brother/big sister to a group of 11 campers with whom you meet daily, attend daily staff meetings, etc. For new folks, these are usually volunteer positions. If you can be available on short notice, your chances increase, because we occasionally have last-minute staff cancellations.

Cook–cook yummy vegetarian and vegan meals, having the pleasure of working with fresh, beautiful, organic ingredients. A big job. We rarely take folks without previous large group vegetarian cooking experience.

Kitchen coordinator–we are always interested in hearing from people who can run our kitchen in Oregon, Vermont, and/or California–that is: plan the menu (can be based on our previous menus), make shopping lists for food, order food, plan the cooking schedule, supervise cooks and kitchen assistants, and cook, thus providing 3 delicious and nutritious meals for 9-14 days, for 130 people. We only need one such person (per location) each year, but because this is such an important position and our former coordinators may not always be available, we are eager to know of other interested and qualified folks.

Junior staff–we almost always fill these volunteer positions with former campers, usually 19-year-olds. On occasion, we’ll take someone else. Involves logistical/support work of all kinds–running errands, waking campers in the mornings, scrubbing pots, assisting the cooks, etc. The annual application deadline is usually the end of February–go here for more information and an application.

Worktrade–we offer approximately six full worktrade positions each year. Full worktraders are campers (ages 13-18) who come to camp for free but do approximately 4-7 hours of work each day–typically a lot of helping in the kitchen, plus miscellaneous other stuff as needed. We also have numerous partial worktrade positions available; for these, a few campers fulfill their worktrade requirements prior to camp, most during camp–it depends on your skills and our needs. Information and application here.


“The staff was great, I loved being with them. Camp was the funnest time I ever had.
It really made me psyched for life. I felt so peaceful and free.”