Junior Staff Information 2017
“My favorite part of camp, as it is every year, was being a part of such an inspiring community. Being on staff made that extra special, ’cause I was a part of the force that allows camp to exist.” -a junior staffer
Before applying for a junior staff position at NBTSC, here are a few important things to know.
- Junior Staff is a volunteer position – no pay, no travel stipend. Junior Staff is an opportunity to give something back to NBTSC, to get a taste of what it’s like to be on staff (and to give us a taste of what it’s like to have you on staff), to get to still be a part of the party when you’re too old to be a camper, and to participate cash-free.
- If we choose you and you commit, we count on you. On rare but traumatic occasions we have had a junior staffer bail at the last minute, or call a few days before camp to say they’d be a day and a half late (this last person was necessarily disinvited and his job was given to an 18-year-old camper we knew we could count on). We know you would never ever mess with us this way, thank you.
- Usually junior staffers work about 50 hours during the 7 days of an 8-night camp week, plus around 8 more hours on each of the 2 days before camp starts (proportionately less or more during a shorter or longer session). If an emergency or strange situation comes up, we might even need you to work a bit more. It’s often fairly gruntish work, like pots-and-pans scrubbing, helping the cooks, supervising campers’ chores, running errands (short ones and long ones), stuff like that. Not very glamorous, and sometimes it feels like a lot of work.
- Unless we are certain before camp that you won’t be helping in the kitchen, you’ll need to get a Food Handler’s Card. This can be done online, requires learning a little bit about food safety and taking a simple test, and costs approximately $10. (Your certification lasts for 3 years. If we choose you, we’ll send details.)
- Jr. staffers are needed from 1 or 2 days before the start of the camp session until about 5 p.m. on the last day of camp (departure day).
- For Oregon Session 1 (Camp Latgawa) we typically need just one junior staffer (we’re not in charge of cooking or dishes, so our staffing needs are simpler). At Oregon Session 2 we usually choose three junior staffers for the full 2-week duration. For Vermont and Joshua Tree, usually two or three. Sometimes we deviate from our plans, but, FYI, those are our plans.
- Drivers’ licenses are helpful. We consider all applicants but other things being equal, a driver’s license (and willingness to run errands) is a plus for sure. (Junior staff are not assigned to transport campers.)
- It is essential that junior staffers come to camp to serve, and that they keep their eyes open for ways that they can help, even when they do not have a specific task assigned to them. If you want to get away with doing the bare minimum, this is not a good position for you–you’ll find that your teammates (worktraders + other junior staffers) and senior staffers resent you and, probably, that you leave feeling bad about yourself or your camp experience.
- We expect junior staff to not only fulfill their grunt-work roles, but also to be actively involved with campers as a role model, informal peer advisor, and generally an exemplary and compassionate leader. Also: if you become aware of anything problematic going on at camp (such as agreement-breaking), you need to be comfortable enough in your staff role to completely disclose that information with senior staff and particularly with camp directors. For many former campers, this means that applying for junior staff makes more sense after taking a one-year break from being a camper.
- You may find yourself in a supervisory role with campers (in the dish pit, etc.) and if so, you’ll be expected to offer them clear, kind yet direct feedback ~ including constructive criticism when warranted. (And will also fill out written evaluations on any worktraders you supervise.) This is another reason that some campers are more comfortable waiting to apply until after a year or so after the end of their camper careers.
- Another thing we firmly expect of you as a junior staff person is not to get involved with a camper romantically (or of course sexually) during camp, at all. This means if you develop a crush and the person you’re crushed out on is on the older and more mature side, it may be okay to talk about it in a non-dramatic way with that person, but no acting on it during camp–no kissing, no nothing. (And depending on the camper’s age and maturity level, it may be a better idea not to share your feelings with that person at all. Please discuss with camp directors before speaking with the recipient of your affection.) We have other guidelines and expectations for junior staffers too, but once, someone seemed put off about this aspect of being on junior staff, so we want to make sure that it’s clear up front that this is part of the agreement you’re making with us.
- We know that for 99.9999999999999999999% of you this goes without saying, but we have unfortunately encountered the 0.000000000000000000001% whose behavior as a junior staffer left us needing to say: don’t even think about applying if you would have even a slight inclination to treat campers with anything remotely resembling a rude or sexually harrassing attitude.
- Junior staff is kind of an in-between role at camp–you’re not exactly campers, and you’re not exactly senior staffers. For example, you won’t attend most staff meetings, because they’re almost too big even without junior staffers, and because we discuss confidential information about campers. We’ll do what we can to help you feel at home in your new role, and you’ll have your own daily team meeting with your supervisor (usually the logistics goddess), but it’s important that you come ready to take charge of your own experience and actively reach out to people for what you want and need (and can give).
- Furthermore… as an adult on staff, you will be interacting with other staff (including senior staff) as an adult. Ideally, junior staffers are able to speak up if they feel uncomfortable with other staff for any reason. (You can speak directly with the person you are uncomfortable with; or, another staffer can facilitate a conversation. Or, if you have a complaint about another staffer’s behavior towards you, you are welcome to simply speak with your supervisor – the logistics goddess, or with the session directors.) Our intention is to support you in having a great time working with other staff; we’ll just need you to let us know if there’s anything awry so we can offer that support.
- Some people apply to be on junior staff because they think that way we’ll hire them later for senior staff. And yes, it’s true that many years we hire 2 or 3 senior staffers from the previous year’s pool of 8 or so junior staffers. But unfortunately there’s never room for all the former junior staffers who would love to continue on, so don’t apply if you see junior staff merely as a stepping stone to senior staff.
- We love hosting campers from Canada and other countries outside the U.S., but unfortunately, we can hire only U.S. citizens (or folks holding green cards and such) to work at camp. Yes, even though junior staff is a volunteer position, sorry.
- We do not normally choose people of normal camp age to work on junior staff. The minimum age for junior staff is 19. (JS typically range from approximately age 19-22.)
- Also, though there have been notable exceptions (Matt) we usually select former campers to work JS. People new to our community don’t have as good a shot at these positions.
- Application deadline is February 28. We’ll get back to you, by email, by March 31. Don’t worry – applying for junior staff is not the same as promising us that you are definitely available. If we are able to offer you a position, at that point you’ll have a week or two to make a firm commitment or turn us down. (Although we keep your personal information private, we usually notify applicants of our decisions via emails that are sent to groups of people rather than just to one individual. If you haven’t heard from us by March 31, check your spam folder.)
- We want you to know that our decisions are not necessarily personal – that is, sometimes a former camper we POSITIVELY ADORE applies to be on Junior Staff and for some reason we are not able to create a staff position for said person… it breaks our hearts to say no, especially when we imagine that you might take our “no” as a personal rejection. Anybody who ever came to NBTSC as a camper is part of our camp family forever, even if we aren’t able to invite you to join our staff.
- We really love and really need our junior staffers! Thank you for applying!
To apply, go on to the next page.
Photos of junior staffer Roya and of junior staffer Rosa (with Taber) in the staff skit, by Newt, 2005