Counselor Application deadline: January 31, 2018.
This is a firm deadline.
All decisions will be announced by February 28th.
We rely on a staff of volunteer counselors to support our instructors and look out for our campers. These folks are integral to the smooth functioning of the camp.
The camp is split according to USCF ratings into groups of 12 campers in each class. Each class has its own counselor and its own homeroom instructor. In addition to the group counselors, there may be 1-2 floating counselors.
All counselors are required to be residents in the dorm from Sunday night through Saturday night.
All counselors must be 18 or over at the start of camp. Typically our counseling staff is split between professional chess coaches, an occasional chess parent (preference is given to parents who also play and/or coach), and young adult chess players (many of whom are former campers). At the discretion of the Camp Director, parent counselors may have the option of being a group counselor for their child's group or being a counselor for a different group. Parent counselors may room with their child or room separately. Young adult counselors usually room with another counselor. Older adults will be given a single room.
Group counselors shepherd their 12 campers around throughout each day and do everything from maintaining order in the classroom so that the instructors can teach to checking to make sure their kids are in bed at night. They supervise afternoon sports/recreation activities, and assist their group's homeroom instructor in whatever way that is requested. The job requires a very high energy level- counselors work non-stop from 7 AM when they knock on doors to wake up the campers until our nightly staff meeting at 11 PM.
Good group counselors are the ones that act as surrogate parents for their 12 campers, reminding them to brush their teeth and encouraging them to eat something besides ice cream for lunch. Group counselors are also usually a 13th member of their group, and are allowed to participate in all camp activities such as the morning tournament games and analysis, and evening fun activities like the blitz tournament. At the discretion of their instructor, they will receive an evaluation at the end of camp, just like the campers.
Floating counselor(s) are responsible for setting up the computers and projectors in the classrooms, rearranging chairs in the main ballroom for simuls and other events, providing a break for group counselors, and whatever other odd jobs need to be done. They typically are not able to participate in as many chess activities as the group counselors- for instance, they cannot play in the Castle Challenge because that is when the AV setup has to happen.
The ability to function well with a minimal amount of sleep is a necessity. A sense of responsibility and urgency are also required. Counselors must follow directions quickly and efficiently, and work as part of a team with other staff members. Counselors do a lot of walking all day long and are also expected to lead rec activites, so applicants in good physical health are preferred. The best counselors have the ability to keep things in perspective and maintain a sense of humor. (Remember, camp is supposed to be fun.) Prior experience supervising children in Scouts, sports, school, church, or any other organization is a big plus. In addition, all counselors must pass a criminal background check.
Counselors receive free room and board for the week, 2 collared staff shirts and one camp t-shirt, plus free entry into the Grand Prix during the final weekend of camp. Counselors also get a gift certificate, if there is money left over after all the bills are paid.
Really though, nobody does it for the shirts, or for the all-you-can-eat cafeteria food, or for the gift certificate. They do it because they're just as nuts about chess as the campers, and they want to be immersed in it 24/7. That said, applying to be a counselor should never be viewed as a way to get “free camp.” Nor is it for parents who are only concerned about watching their own kid like a hawk and ignoring the rest of their group. Counselors are expected to put all of the campers' needs above their own.
How to apply:
We generally have a lot more people who want to be counselors than we have spots available, so write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and explain why you are interested in the position and why you think you would be good at it. Specify whether you are applying to be a group counselor or a floater (or either/both). Please provide TWO references (non-family members) in your email, preferably from people who have direct experience watching you supervise children. Interviews (either in person or over the phone) will be arranged after you apply.