Staff FAQ

Group of campers at Camp Starfish
Smiling camper teen making cinnamon rolls in the kitchen of Camp Starfish
two Campers smiling at Camp Starfish

For some prospective staff, explaining “camp” to family or professors/advisors who don’t get it can be tough. So, how do you help others get on the same page?

Helping those who influence you understand that Starfish is a program for youth with special needs which happens to do its work in a camp environment might help. The vast majority of our alumni are now professionals who are currently teaching, providing mental health services, and advocating for differently abled individuals – and many of them actually credit Starfish with getting them there.

OF COURSE! Here is a short list!

  • Room and board
  • Seasonal salary
  • Paid time off,
  • Extensive training
  • Multiple Certifications, internship credit and more!

We do not recommend booking tickets for travel until you have confirmed your role with our Director of Staff Experience (DSE). Specific travel details will be provided to you once you are officially hired which will add clarification to the arrivals and departures process, allowing you to make the best decision about travel. Staff are responsible for confirming their start dates with the DSE and booking travel so as to arrive ready for training.

You may 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.

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.

During the summer, if you have a specific day that you need time off for, you can let a director know before the start of the summer, and at the before the start of a session!, As scheduling between 100+ staff can be difficult, we will make every effort to grant your request. If you need a specific day off for religious purposes or a medical appointment, we can work with you to set up your time off and virtual access for these services, if necessary.

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, and don’t define campers by their diagnoses.

This answer varies a lot based on which program the camper chooses. Each session is separated by time off for the staff and some in-service training. Children usually attend one session, though some will attend a session and then return later in the summer for a second session. Depending on the program and the session, sessions can be 5, 14, or 19 days long.

Our campers generally range in age from 7-15, and teens in our older camper programs are anywhere from 14-17. Our transitional independent living program, TIDES Vista, serves teens 16+. We are a co-ed camp, with approximately 40% girls and 60% boys. Many of our campers have been coming for years and others are new each year. Each session has a maximum of 55 campers. Cabins on the girls’ side of camp hold a maximum of 7 campers; on the boys side, 5 campers.

Of course! Previous experience is not required, but it will help you stand out among other candidates. Even with no experience, we provide 10+ days of intensive and hands-on training before campers even arrive!
The training 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.

Sure! Camp is a big place! While you will be running around a lot each day, you are welcome to use your time off to work out if you would like!

Yes, we do have a staff parking lot available to use. In the past, even far-traveling staff have brought their cars as they are able to leave site more freely on their time off!

Due to our communal living spaces and being in the middle of the woods, we are unable to house seasonal staff pets for the summer.

If we have not answered your questions, please feel free to call our office at 978-637-2617 or email us anytime for assistance.

Table of Contents
Summer Jobs
Photo of Danielle Lubbers

Danielle Lubbers

Danielle joined Camp Starfish in the spring of 2023 as Camp Director. Originally working with the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, Danielle has ten years of experience providing programming to children, outdoor skills training for adults, and directing overnight summer camp experiences.

In her spare time, Danielle enjoys spending time with her two-year old Dalmatian, Mia. Danielle’s favorite activity at camp is raft building, as she enjoys seeing campers and staff work together to complete a team goal. Her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is “We are here to learn, grow, and have fun!”

Staff photo of David

David Mahnken

David Mahnken is Camp Starfish’s Mental Health Consultant. He provides staff training each summer on topics such as self-care, trauma-informed care practices, and health & wellness. David also provides support and consultation to the organization throughout the year. David holds a BA from St. Olaf College and an MSW from Simmons University. David is a LICSW who works in emergency services in addition to his own private practice in Massachusetts.

Prior to becoming a social worker, David’s first experience at camp was as a counselor in the early 2000s before becoming an administrator and member of the year-round team. His favorite camp activity is swim-I (swim instruction), and his favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “We make camp a safe place.”

Staff photo of Joe

Joe Clark

As the Assistant Director at Camp Starfish, Joe is a seasoned professional who is well-versed in all aspects of camp life. With five years of summer work at Starfish, he brings extensive experience and expertise to the camp year-round. Joe is from the UK, and holds a degree from Keele University. Joe works as a support worker in the UK, providing care to individuals with disabilities, since 2019. Joe also engages in volunteer work, including spending three months in Abrobiano, Ghana.

Joe is known at camp for his charming English accent, which campers often try to replicate! His favorite camp activity is playing soccer (football) on the field, and his favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “I take responsibility for my actions.”

Staff photo of Rachel

Rachel Roberts

Rachel Roberts is the Director of Staff Experience at Camp Starfish, responsible for all things staffing and groups. With a degree in Anthropology, and a Certificate in Global Citizenship from Franklin Pierce University, Rachel brings a unique perspective to her role. She oversees hiring, onboarding, retention, and staff appreciation for the 100+ seasonal staff at Camp Starfish each summer. Rachel has been a part of the Starfish team since 2016, working in various seasonal roles. She joined the Year-Round Team full-time in 2022.

As a lifelong New Hampshire resident, Rachel enjoys hiking in the woods with her dog, Clover. Her favorite camp activity is Free Play, and her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “We respect each other’s differences.”

Staff photo of Kristie

Kristie Martin

Kristie Martin is Camp Starfish’s Program Director, responsible for ensuring that each camper receives a structured, supportive, and fun program during both summer and year-round weekends. With her degree in Applied Psychology & Human Development from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, Kristie has a deep understanding of child development and uses this knowledge to create a nurturing environment for all campers.

Kristie grew up in the Monadnock region and takes pride in being a local. Kristie’s favorite camp activity is the Camper Talent Show, which she believes is the perfect opportunity for campers to showcase their skills and feel comfortable sharing with the community. Her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is, “I try my best, I do not have to be the best.”

Staff photo of Sarah

Sarah York

Sarah York is the Director of Operations at Camp Starfish, joining the team in the Spring of 2022. She brings with her a wealth of professional experience working in both mental health and human resources. Sarah’s role at Camp Starfish is crucial in ensuring that camp runs smoothly, and she is available to assist families every step of the way through the registration process. If you call the Starfish office, Sarah will likely be who you speak with first!

With her dedication to helping others and her commitment to creating a positive camp experience for every child, it’s no wonder that her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “We are members of a team.”

Staff photo of Jamie

Jamie Mahnken

Jamie Mahnken is Camp Starfish’s Executive Director, and has been an integral part of the Camp Starfish community since 2010, serving in a variety of roles. With a degree in Business Administration and Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University, Jamie is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for every camper, staff member, and volunteer.

As a North Carolina native, Jamie enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. Her favorite camp activity is kayaking to Blueberry Island, which is a meaningful and memorable experience for many campers, as well. Jamie’s favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “I am flexible and open to change.”