Being a staff member at North Country Camps is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. Most of the counselors are college students that come for a few summers, make life-long friendships and then, move on to their "real jobs." I was a camper at Whippoorwill for 6 summers but was never a young staff member at NCC. My first summer on staff was 2015. I had an 11 year old son at Lincoln and a 9 year old daughter at Whip. I had already worked in the "real world" for around 20 years and was lucky enough that since I work as an independent consultant, my schedule was flexible enough that I could take time to spend the summer in the beautiful Adirondacks as a part of the incredible NCC community.
Whenever I talk about camp, I tell everyone that what sets it apart from other summer camps is the community that exists there. This is true among both campers and staff. Some of my kids' best friends are friends from camp, even though they don't live in our town. And yes, I am more than double the age of the majority of the counselors. No, I did not have the same kind of BFF friendships with the college students as they had with each other. But, I did form incredible relationships with many of them. I had the pleasure of working with kids and helping to guide younger staff members as they adjusted to their jobs.
Working at NCC is an intense experience. Everyone shows up before the campers arrive to get camp ready. There are days filled with preparing the camp for campers and certifications of all sorts - life guarding, CPR, Wilderness First Aid. Evenings are a more relaxed getting-to-know each other time. By the time the campers arrive, counselors have bonded and are in a routine. That routine changes as soon as the campers get there. The jobs changes from more physical work to spending days leading activities, supervising children, helping manage kids relationships, being a mentor and a rule enforcer. While the job really feels like it is a 24-7 responsibility, we get the privilege and pleasure of helping campers grow and watching them achieve things they never believed they could.
In talks with counselors that are in college, many of them tell me they love it at camp but don't think they can work there for more than a summer or two because they need to get "real" experience so they can get a job after college. I have worked in finance, investment banking and consulting in my life away from camp. I have seen what makes people successful in their post-college life. I have seen that an internship CAN be rewarding but for many interns, it is a summer full of making copies, coffee runs and grunt work. In the 10 weeks of summer that a college student has, when they work at camp, they are all in. Because of the intensity of the job, it often feels like more than 10 weeks. They learn teamwork and carrying responsibility on their shoulders. They come to understand how important it is to do their share of the work and to rely that others will also do what's needed. One of the most critical skills at camp is to learn to be flexible and to take on unexpected jobs because needs can change on a daily basis. In any industry and in any job, these are essential skills. First year counselors get exposure to all of this. The longer a counselor stays on staff, the more responsibility they take on, often moving from cabin counselor to section head and / or activity head. They continue to grow as people and as leaders. Camp is not only an amazing place to work and live but it is one of the best breeding grounds for success in whatever someone may want to do after.
Every summer we get some returning staff members and some new ones. Each group has a different dynamic. Some of the staff members I am closest with haven't been back for the last few years, and yet, I return whenever I can because of the incredible community that both my kids and I have been privileged enough to be a part of. Joining the staff at NCC is like joining a family.
Written by Tami Benanav
Testimonials from other staff members
Working at camp is a fantastic experience because it allows you to find a perfect balance between preserving carefree childhood summers while also encouraging you to grow into new and mature responsibilities and experiences. A summer working at camp is not only rewarding professionally, it provides a unique context to get to know a community intimately and wholly that will remain with you for a lifetime. - Danny Hickey, USA
Camp is is simply the most unreal experience I could have ever imagined. Coming from overseas, I didn't really know what to expect working here but in all honesty it turned out to be my second home. Having returned for 3 summers I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and also got to work with amazing kids. I've also gained a lot of skills being here and it has helped me develop into the person I am today. - Jack Simmons, UK
Working at North Country Camps is more than just a summer job. Throughout my years at camp, I have gained rich, indelible experiences - leading wilderness expeditions deep in the Adirondack Park, watching colorful sunsets on Augur Lake, sitting by the fire surrounded by the whole camp community - and forged incredible, lasting friendships that span across countries and years. When I think of the most influential thing in my life, my thoughts always turn to NCC. Each magical moment contributes to the vibrant tapestry of every single summer, which in turn has shaped who I am as a person. North Country Camps is more than just a summer job... it's home.- Jess Lewy, USA
The summers that I have spent at Lincoln are individually and collectively some of the greatest experiences that I have ever had. I got the chance to live, work, and challenge myself in such an incredible environment with a wonderfully diverse mixture of people. I was able to completely let go, be myself and this has resulted in me making lifelong friendships with those who have similarly awesome memories! Without a doubt it was one of the hardest jobs I've ever done, but it certainly delivered the greatest satisfaction. - Phil Joy, UK
Working at camp whip was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only did it introduce me to some of my closest friends, if also helped me grow as a person. Working at whip strengthened my confidence as a leader, taught me the importance of safety, and the ability to work with a variety of different people, all skills and stories I described when applying for full time jobs. On top of all that, I was able to go on some insanely cool trips in the Adirondack mountains and build relationships with a really incredible group of campers. Cannot say enough good things about spending a summer working at Whip!! - Erin Coyne, USA
Working at camp for 2 years (so far) has been the best time in my life, it's opened my eyes to a new place and somewhere I've fallen in love with! Everyone is so friendly and makes you feel so welcome and I wouldn't change my experience for the world. - Tom Featherstone, UK
My name is Flo, and I have just finished my 2nd year at Camp Lincoln as a Section Head. To me, being at camp is not just a job. It allows me to forget about the rest, to know that I belong somewhere. To know that people can count on me as much as I can count on them. It is also a great way to express my own creativity, which you cannot find in that many places. You are free to come up with your own new games, new activities, new exciting things to see and do. And the more enthusiastic you get about something, the more enthusiastic the kids will get too! I would recommend this to anyone trying to have a great time, but also anyone willing to learn a bit more about themselves and others, while building amazing friendships and life-long experiences. - Florian Dumas, FR
Working for North Country Camps has allowed me to engage with children of a variety of ages, working not only to support their learning of specific skills, but also to cultivate a positive living community, ultimately supporting my own growth as a future teacher. In the community that truly feels like a family, I have had the opportunity to push myself in my learning as a trip leader, section head, cabin counselor, and in all activities that I have taught and facilitated. Regardless of where I end up in the future, the flexibility, ability to work closely with other staff and build on each other's strengths, and the passion that working for NCC has taught me, will be incredible assets. I couldn't imagine a better place to call home, where I am able to share my love of hiking, exploring, learning, and having fun with all of the children and other staff. - Haeli Warren, USA