Will I need to interview in person?
No, you will not need to interview in person, though if you are local to our winter office (Lancaster, MA) we certainly welcome you to do so. Most of our staff live outside of the greater Boston area (in fact they come from states and countries all over the globe!) and have their interviews conducted over Skype or on the phone. When your application reaches that point, we will decide with you on a mutually beneficial interview time and location!
Is there a deadline for counselor applications?
We have Application Cycles
which allow you to choose when to apply, however the process is competitive and we do recommend applying as soon as possible. If you have interest in a very specific area of camp employment (for example you know you definitely want to teach in our Learning Center or be a swim instructor), we definitely encourage you to apply early in the year. Each cycle has its own "decision date" - the date by which, if you are offered a job, you will need to let us know if you are accepting it. Should we have positions left following the 4th cycle in April, we will continue to accept and review applications on a rolling basis.
Is Camp Starfish a non-profit camp?
Yes, Camp Starfish is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which is an educational not-for-profit. We are completely funded by grants from foundations, corporations and individuals, as well as from tuition which is often provided by agencies, but we do not receive any federal or government funding. We provide some kind of financial aid to a large percentage of the campers.
The camp was founded in 1998 by Deb Berman and Rick Hobish. Our first summer of operation was 2000. We operated for the first 4 years at a rented camp on Cape Cod, and then rented our current home in Rindge, NH for the next few years, finally purchasing it in 2008. You can read more about the history of camp here.
What if I need to leave camp on a specific day?
If you have a specific day that you need as your time-off, and you inform us about it before the summer begins, we will make every effort to grant your request. Please do not wait until your hiring process is complete to let us know about this need; it puts everyone in a difficult position.
Are room and board provided?
Yes, housing and all meals are provided for free while you are working at Starfish. And, actually while "camp food" is often kind of scary, food at Starfish happens to be pretty good. We have hot breakfasts with cereal and alternatives provided, fresh fruit and vegetables on the tables at every meal and well-balanced lunches and dinners. We have a salad bar at lunch and dinner. There are always vegan and vegetarian options, and we are able to accomodate gluten-free menus as well as most allergies. If you have other dietary needs, we encourage you to speak with us to ensure that we can accomodate them (something we try very hard to do). It is an expectation that all staff will live in a cabin with campers, and you will have your own locker for small personal items and a cubby next to your bed for clothes and larger items.
Will I receive time off while I'm working at Starfish?
Yes, all counselors receive approximately one day off each week, although you will usually be off after your campers go to bed the night before your day off through 7 AM the day after). You also will have extended time off (a couple days and nights) between sessions 1 & 2, and again between sessions 2 & 3. Additionally, you receive time off each day (about an hour or so, which is enough to grab a nap, run, or shower, check your email, or just chill out, depending on your mood). On evenings that you do not have coverage in the bunk after lights out you will also have a few hours off where you can enjoy the staff lounge - watch a movie, catch up with friends, play a game of cards, get a snack, and relax. During your time off, you are welcome to go off-camp and take advantage of our local shopping & sightseeing!
What are some of the diagnoses campers may have?
While not all children at Starfish have diagnoses, most have been diagnosed with learning disabilities, psychological disturbances, developmental delay, or other similar challenges. Many of the children have either been clinically diagnosed with or exhibit behaviors associated with, but not limited to: Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Intermittent Explosivity, BiPolar Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A large number of campers have also been placed on the Autism spectrum, with diagnoses of Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder, or Asperger's Syndrome. Regardless of any specific diagnosis, we focus on behaviors as they arise, working individually with each child on any challenges at camp and their ongoing goals.
How much time do the children spend at camp?
It varies a lot based on the program they choose. Our first-time and youngest overnight campers can try 5-day, 4-night "Lite" and "Cove" programs. We have two 14-day and one 19-day session as well. Each session is separated by time off for the staff and some inservice training. Children usually attend one session, though some will attend session 1 and then return in August for session 3. It is intentional that campers do not spend the entire summer at Starfish; there are any campers on our waitlist to attend each year, and additionally, due to the intensive structure campers follow whilst at camp, a break between sessions is often beneficial. Many of our new or younger campers will do a 5- or 14-day session their first year, and return to camp for the 19-day session the year after. Our Day Campers can sign up for anywhere between 1 and 6 weeks of camp, but of course they go home each night.
What is the campers' age range? How many kids are there?
Our day campers can start as young as 5 (and usually finish the day camp program at about age 12). Overnight campers generally range in age from 7-15, and teens in our older camper programs anywhere from 14-17. Young adult programs are offered for ages 17+, which can include apprenticeships or our transitional independent living program, TIDES. Our "Cove" program offers a 5-day, 4-night camp for 6 year olds. We are a co-ed camp, usually with approximately 40% girls and 60% boys. Many of our campers have been coming for years - some since the first summer we opened! - and others are new each year. Each session has a maximum of 55 overnight and 14 day campers. Cabins on the girls' side of camp hold a maximum of 7 campers; on the boys side, 5.
Can I apply even if I don't have a lot of experience?
Previous experience with children will help you stand out in, and complete, our fairly competitive application process, but is not absolutely required for counselors. Our one-to-one staff to camper ratio helps provide an incredible amount of support for all staff. We also have an intensive 10+ day training before the campers arrive. The training (run by our Executive Director, Camp Director, Assistant Director and well-experienced leadership staff, along with guest speakers) helps provide counselors with a substantial foundation for working with children who have special needs. Our leadership & supervisory staff also provide the counselors with a significant amount of guidance and support throughout each camp day. During the summer, ongoing trainings and opportunities to enhance your skills will also be available. If you have absolutely no employment experience at all, please know that while your application will be considered, it will likely not be as competitive in our process as those of individuals who do have work experience in some field.
Is this a volunteer position or are staff paid for their work?
All of the positions at Camp Starfish are paid. No camp pays their staff lots of money - for a few reasons. The first is that many camps are not-for-profit and have small budgets (like Starfish). The second is that working at summer camp is something that people do for the experience, the joy of changing lives, and the chance to be a part of an intentional, postive community, rather than to become wealthy. However, because room, board and laundry service are included (all meals and the cost of living), and time off is paid, most people find that they can enjoy trips off camp on their time off and still leave camp at the end of the summer with almost their entire salary to put in the bank. You can learn more about salary structure and staff bonuses here.
Can I recieve academic credit for working at Starfish?
Yes, absolutely! Lots of staff do and we have information for you about Internships & Fellowships here. However, receiving credit for your work at Starfish must be approved and administered by a professor, academic adviser, department chair, or dean before you arrive at camp. We will, of course, be more than happy to complete any of the requisite forms and help ensure that once you arrive at camp, you have access to the resources you need to complete papers, time logs, etc., as required by your school. In the past, students have had requirements that included interviewing members of our administrative team or directors, writing stories or essays about their experiences, and meeting weekly with a supervisor to process their learning experience as they go. Any of these things are completely do-able...just let us know ahead of time so we can make sure your schedule at camp allows for these things to be completed in a timely manner! All staff working towards academic credit also participate in a weekly Interns Seminar to make sure you complete your requirements in style.
What can I do if I need to leave early?
Because the children's successes are largely contingent on our ability to provide them with individualized programming throughout the entirety of their summer, all staff are required to work the full season. We hire enough staff to make sure we can have a 1:1 ratio, so before applying, if you know you will not be able to work the entire summer, please contact us. If you have a specific date concern, such as needing to leave camp for two days in July to attend school orientation or a family member's wedding, we are usually able to work around that by scheduling your time off accordingly.