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Summer Staff:

ALL THE DETAILS

So you're interested in working at camp, but you'd like to know a lot more? Here are some frequently asked questions (and their answers!) to help you understand the nuts and bolts of working at summer camp. Want to see the job description for a specific position? Email Megan Sweeney, Camp Programs Coordinator.

Keep an eye on this page for additional updates about our initial COVID-19 adaptive plans and how they may affect staff expectations for the 2021 season.

Changes for Summer 2021 (as of Feb. 19, 2021):

  • For the health and safety of our staff, campers, and families, capacity is reduced to 50% this summer. That means, 50% fewer campers at camp each week, and about 50% fewer staff. Capacity may be increased as we get closer to the summer if regulations allow.
  • Cabin group size has been reduced for some programs, currently capped at 6-8 campers per cabin.
  • Some of our usual programs will not be offered this year or have been adapted to meet current restrictions. This includes offering a shortened and reduced capacity Mini Summer Respite August 8-10. 

We follow the guidance of the State of Maryland, and we may be required to make a few changes to the atmosphere of camp. This will likely include wearing masks for parts of the day, like times when you're indoors, or outdoors when physical distance can't be maintained; distancing from campers and staff in other programs/family groups; and daily health checks. This may include restrictions on off-site time off, distancing from campers and staff in other cabins, required Covid-19 testing prior to reporting to camp, or a 10-day quarantine period (best described as a self-imposed restriction on interactions with others) prior to reporting to camp.

What is Pecometh's mission, and what does that mean in practice for staff? 

Pecometh's mission is to provide sanctuary for Christian hospitality & programming that promote God-inspired, life-changing experiences through camp & retreat ministries. While we don't require staff to identify as Christian, we expect enthusiastic and open-minded participation in all aspects of our Christian community: singing grace at every meal, singing/dancing to Christian kids worship music, encouraging campers to participate in Bible study & prayer by modeling active engagement and leadership, demonstrating good stewardship of the natural world, and upholding Christian moral values. We are an inclusive and affirming Christian community - we do not discriminate based on race, gender, sexual identity, national origin or church affiliation.

Every staff role also includes kind and empathetic communication/engagement with children and youth, setting clear boundaries by teaching and enforcing camp rules and procedures, working cooperatively with fellow staff, being willing to look and act a little silly sometimes (like by dressing up for theme activities and singing goofy kids' songs, for example), taking care of oneself in order to care for others, and contributing to the overall mission by sometimes doing tasks that aren't explicitly listed in your job description. 

When does camp start and end?
  • Mandatory Staff Training Week  for all staff June 13-18, 2021
  • Required training for some positions occurs in early June (tentative dates):
    • Adventure (Archery, Challenge Course, Nature Discovery): June 1-6
    • Aquatics (Lifeguard, Waterfront, Watercraft): June 10-13
    • Leadership (Coordinators, Managers, Lead): June 6-11
  • First day of camp for campers: June 20, 2021
  • Most contracts will end Friday, August 6, 2021
  • Summer Respite contracts will end Tuesday, August 10, 2021
  • Some contracts available through mid- to late August

What are my normal work hours? Report time is 10:30 am every Sunday, and the week ends Friday afternoon when you are dismissed from Closing Meeting, typically by 5 pm. Breakfast is at 7:30 each morning, campers are typically in bed between 9-10 pm. 

Do I have any free time? Staff typically have free time from camper “Lights Out” between 9:00-10:00 pm until curfew at 12:00 am. One night each week, you will be on hill duty during this time. One night each week, you will have a 30 minute meeting during this time.

What about weekends? Staff have most weekends free from approximately 5 pm Friday through 10:30 am Sunday. You may go home or stay on camp on the designated hill for that weekend. Most staff are required to work one weekend per summer; lifeguards are required to work up to two weekends per summer; leadership staff are required to work multiple weekends per summer. Most Saturdays, there are camp-organized optional trips for staff. **Weekend rules for 2021 may change based on requirements and recommendations from the state of Maryland. If staff are asked to remain on camp between sessions, you better believe we're going to do the best we can to make it fun and full of opportunities to relax and recharge.

Do I get any other time off? Requests are preferred prior to the start of your contract, but must be made at least 2 weeks in advance of the time off. Paid time off is allotted as follows:

  • 7, 8, or 9 week contract: 2 paid days off
  • 10+ week contract: 3 paid days off

Additional time off is unpaid. All requests are considered in order of submission and at the discretion of the Camp Programs Coordinator. Time off due to illness or injury is included in the allotted days’ time. **Based on requirements and recommendations from the state of Maryland, off-site time off may not be available for the 2021 camp season or may come with restrictions.

Flexible contracts may be considered on a case by case basis for staff who will require full weeks off during the summer for mission trips, family vacations, etc. These requests MUST be included on your application and discussed prior to contract offers.

What and when will I be paid? Pay varies by position, qualifications, and length of contract - see this year's pay scale here. Base pay for all first year Domestic staff (those already with US work eligibility and not sponsored or recruited by an agency) is $260/week; first year International staff (those with sponsored J-1 visas or recruited by an agency) are paid in accordance with their agency's "pocket money" determination.

Paydays are every other Friday; direct deposit is strongly preferred. All contracts include at least 1 week of paid training plus room & board.

Where do I live? Each Friday, you will receive a cabin assignment for the following week. Two staff members (a counselor and a service staffer) will be assigned to each cabin, along with 6-8 campers. Cabins are rustic: they have electricity for fans and lights, but are not air conditioned. Each cabin group, called a hill, has one centrally-located wash house with toilets, sinks, and showers. The wash houses have two sides: one for boys, and one for girls. All-gender bathrooms are available at the Health Center, Dining Hall, and Fellowship Hall.

What is a service staffer? A person camp can't run without! A service staffer is anyone who is not a counselor or Leadership Team: lifeguards, maintenance, facilitators, assistants, and instructors. If counselors are "mom" or "dad" for the week, service staffers are the cool "aunt" or "uncle"!

Will I be fed? Of course! Meals are provided throughout the week and on weekends. The dining hall serves up a variety of meals, with healthy options provided. Special dietary needs can often be accommodated if we are notified in advance.

What is your electronics policy? One of the best things about camp is the fact that you can unplug and enjoy nature. Campers are not permitted to bring any electronics with them (and counselors are expected to confiscate any items that are found during the week). Staff serve as role models and should be an example of the "unplugged lifestyle" for campers by refraining from all use of electronics while on duty. Staff are permitted to use their cell phones FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY and may be asked to turn in their electronics during work hours if necessary. You may bring other electronics, but these items may ONLY be used in the staff lounge during time off.

For the musical instrument question on your application, please list "Ocarina" in addition to any other instruments you may play to let us know that you read this important information. If you're reading this after applying, mention it in your follow up email.

Do I have a uniform? Yes, for 2 days per week. The rest of the week, you may wear casual clothes professionally appropriate to your job. Complete uniforms are worn on the first and last day of each session, most often Sundays from 10:30 am through the end of the day and Fridays from breakfast through the end of Closing Meeting. Your staff uniform consists of a staff polo, khaki (solid tan) shorts, and your name button. One staff polo and one name button will be provided to you during staff training week; additional items must be purchased. You must bring your own appropriate khaki shorts (trousers or skirts may also be worn).

Is there a dress code? A dress code is enforced for practicality and professionalism. Staff are to dress in a manner appropriate to the work which they are doing.

  • You'll need clothes that allow for full range of motion and comfort during work assignments and all camp activities such as active games, walking on trails, sitting on the ground, participating in challenge course, dancing at music time, etc. For example, a t-shirt and mid-length shorts are nearly universally appropriate for all camp activities.
  • Clothes should reasonably cover all undergarments and always cover private areas while standing, sitting, squatting, reaching, bending, and spontaneous dance parties. Staff are also encouraged to select clothing with sun safety in mind, as most camp jobs require a significant daily amount of sun exposure, especially during peak midday hours. Clothing and gear should be free of inappropriate or controversial words, slogans and images.
  • Shoes are required at all times outside of the pool. You'll want a few different pairs: closed-toe shoes with secure backs for trails, challenge course, and running activities; water shoes that securely attach to the feet for all river activities; and shower shoes are strongly encouraged!
  • Bathing suits should be athletic-style, professional-coverage suits appropriate for very active aquatic programming. We recommend choosing a style and size that will help you to feel comfortable and secure while playing pool games with children, participating in paddle sports, climbing on Splashdown equipment, or tubing behind a speedboat on the river. Rash guards or sun shirts are encouraged for sun safety. Staff are expected to suit up for and participate in all aquatic activities on the schedule (pool, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, Splashdown, and boating), so at least one bathing suit is a must.
  • While tattoos are not inherently unprofessional, tattoos with depictions inappropriate for children and youth must remain covered while working. This includes but is not limited to depictions of actual or implied violence, nudity, curse words, hate symbols, alcohol and drugs.
  • All piercings must be safe for an active summer camp lifestyle. To reduce safety risks during specific activities like Challenge Course, supervisors and activity staff may ask you to wear a piercing less likely to snag (for instance, studs instead of hoops) or to temporarily remove piercings/use piercing retainers.
  • Recent tattoos and piercings should be fully healed prior to reporting for camp and new tattoos and piercings should not be acquired during the contract period to allow full participation in all camp activities, including both pool and river aquatic activities (areas with high infection risk).

How do staff maintain physical and mental health at camp? Staff need to stay physically and mentally healthy: the summer is not a sprint; it's a marathon! On top of that, it's important to model these things for our campers. Personal hygiene, balanced eating, and good sleep habits are essential parts of maintaining your health.

  • Staff are expected to shower regularly, brush their teeth, and maintain personal cleanliness. Good hygiene practices such as regular and thorough hand washing and not sharing personal items like hairbrushes, toothbrushes, drinks, straws, lifeguard whistles, etc. are critical. 
  • Eating at each meal (yes, even breakfast!), trying new foods, and eating balanced meals are encouraged. Sometimes, you may have to actively say "no thanks" to  french fries (for the 3rd time that week) AND actively put together a side salad at the salad bar, or however you choose to make healthy food choices to power your active summer camp lifestyle.
  • The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep each night for young adults aged 18-25. With full, demanding days at camp, this is even more important than usual while also being even more challenging than usual! Sometimes, you may have to choose sleep over other things you may want to do, like finally using the wifi in the staff lounge or hanging out with friends. Staff presence is also required overnight in cabins for camper supervision and emergency preparedness.
  • If you are feeling physically or mentally unwell, it is encouraged and expected that you let your supervisor know AND speak to the camp nurse. The chaplain can also be a great resource for support. "Powering through" pain or not seeking help out of concern about looking weak or being a burden is a mental game we don't play at camp. You cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself. While staff are expected to have their own insurance coverage for non-work related illnesses and injuries, assistance is available - please do not let the cost of care be a deterrent. You are entitled to care for injuries sustained as a result of work duties and those injuries MUST be reported as soon as they become evident.
  • Many people have routine healthcare schedules for maintaining their physical and mental health, including therapy, counseling, and diabetic or allergy monitoring. It is CRITICAL to make plans with your provider(s) prior to the summer regarding how you will continue to receive care throughout the summer. Will you continue to attend in-person appointments? Will you have virtual visits? Will you have information to contact a provider as needed or in case of emergency? You can help us to help you by communicating time off and technology needs, as well as emergency plans, as soon as you are able.

What are your policies regarding drug, tobacco, and alcohol use? Our policies are designed with the law and the safety of staff and campers in mind. While respecting the independence of its community members, Pecometh requires that staff and campers comply with local and federal laws, including those that govern use of alcohol and other drugs. Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries has no ability or authority to shield individuals from prosecution under federal, state, or local law. 

  • Drug use or possession (including marijuana and prescription drugs not prescribed to you) is strictly prohibited on and off camp property and is grounds for immediate dismissal.
  • Camp Pecometh is a tobacco-free zone and its use in any form is not permitted anywhere on camp by campers or staff, or during camp-sponsored activities off-site. This applies to all products containing tobacco and nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaping, and juuling. It is against federal and Maryland state law for a person to purchase for or sell a tobacco product to anyone under the age of 21; or distribute tobacco paraphernalia to anyone under the age of 21.
  • Camp Pecometh is alcohol-free; use or possession of alcohol is not permitted by anyone, anywhere on camp, at any time. No staff members may consume alcohol on camp-sponsored trips. No staff members may consume alcohol within 12 hours of reporting to work. Staff aged 21 or above who choose to consume alcohol during time off agree to do so responsibly, including only in situations where underage staff are not present nor are likely to be present. It is against federal and Maryland state law for a person to purchase for or provide or sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.
  • Staff are advised that in the state of Maryland, a person under the age of 21 may be arrested, charged, and convicted of underage drinking through constructive possession, even if they had not consumed any alcohol, simply by being in the presence of alcohol. This mainly occurs when officials break up large parties or other events where alcohol is being consumed and the issuance of tests to every individual is deemed impractical. Pecometh therefore advises staff under the age of 21 to avoid or remove themselves from situations where alcohol is present.
  • All staff are advised that violation of any law may have an impact on current or future visa eligibility. Drug/alcohol abuse is a topic that is subject to scrutiny. An individual whose visa has been revoked may be considered deportable from the U.S. Applying for a new visa after revocation may be difficult or impossible, depending on the facts of the specific case. While this is of utmost concern to international staff, it may also impact U.S. staff planning to apply for travel or work/study abroad visas.

 

Reasons why working at camp this summer may not be for you:

You cannot attend mandatory training dates for your desired position, including all of staff training week. You cannot commit to working overnight every week from Sunday through Friday. You will not be able to commit to at least 6 weeks of work this summer due to other obligations. You cannot live without your cell phone/tablet/other electronic device. You are unable to live in the rustic, fast-paced, and interactive environment described due to physical or mental health requirements that cannot be met with reasonable accommodation, or due to personal preference. You are uncomfortable with participating in aquatic activities, even when provided with a life jacket. You will have difficulty living in a community setting or adhering to the Christian community standards explained above. You hate fun.

 

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