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CJ Staff: Finding the Best

One of the greatest parts of my job as Resident Camp Director is interviewing and hiring staff for the summer.  This school year we rolled out the application in late December, a little earlier than usual, and within a few weeks I had more than 50 applications in my inbox!  It’s incredibly encouraging to see so many young people who have “come up through the ranks” in their CJ lives, and are excited to pass on the traditions and help create memories for the campers who walk the paths of Camp Jorn today.  It’s also fun to see applications from “new” people, people who are passionate about the camping experience and want to make a difference in the lives of kids.

As a parent myself, one of my greatest desires is for my own kids to find the kind of positive role models they so desperately need in today’s day and age.  The old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is still relevant, but so often missing in the lives of kids these days.  Camp is one of those places that provide these role models, in a safety-conscious, growth-oriented, fun environment.  Finding the best staff to work with Camp Jorn campers is not only one of the greatest parts of my job, but one of the most important!

Potential CJ staff go through a rigorous hiring process.  We receive their application and 3 reference forms, which must be written and are also spot-checked for accuracy and authenticity, and then conduct a phone or in-person interview.

I ask a lot of questions- the usual “what strengths do you bring to this position?” and “which program areas do you feel most comfortable working in?”   But more importantly, I want to know what the applicants understand about kids, and how they will conduct themselves at camp:  How do you relate to kids?  What are some of the fears and concerns of campers coming to camp?  Tell me about a terrific leader or teacher you’ve had- what qualities made him/her that way?  What are some things a kid could do that would really impress you?  Make you crazy?  How do you let them know?  How do you think kids learn the difference between right and wrong?  Is it okay for kids to disagree with adults?  What’s been one of your most recent disappointments?  What was the last thing that made you feel really good about yourself?  When was the last time you changed your mind about something?  What kind of training helps you do your best job?  Are you comfortable trying new things?  The list goes on…

We work hard to put the “right people on the bus,” to fit the pieces of the puzzle together to create an incredible summer staff team.  Staff are given materials throughout the spring that help them ready their minds and spirits for the job ahead.  They spend at least a week of training at camp before the first campers arrive, learning everything from emergency procedures, to camper development, to canoe paddle strokes, to the best camp songs to sing!  They talk about what kind of leaders they want to be, and how to be them.  They role play the kinds of issues they might have in their cabin group.  They create lesson plans for program area classes and wild ideas for campfires!  Then, the first Sunday of camp, the buses arrive…  It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!  But we have a few more months before that happens!   =)

Campers, tell us about the staff members you particularly love, and why they’re so great!  Tell us what you see in them that make you want to come back to camp every summer!

Staff, tell us what qualities you think make up the best counselor at Camp Jorn?

Parents, tell us about the perfect staff member for your child!  What do you look for?  What’s important to you?  We at camp want to listen and continue to improve in every way.

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