It’s the goal that each KSS Summer Camp staff looks back on the past summer as their Best Summer Ever! Working as a camp counselor or support staff can be an amazing experience, full of new friendships, tons of laughter, and amazing adventures. Summer camp is a magical place, and in full transparency, it’s a lot of work! At KSS, we strive for a One-Team mentality so all staff help out across all programs and departments. This creates an incredible community and culture, but expect to work very long days (15+ hours, 6 days a week).
A Day in the Life
Whether you’re a crossover counselor or lead adventures instructor, you’ll be participating in rigorous training in May and early June. Starting at breakfast time and on into the evening, staff will participate in bonding activities and be trained in childhood behavior development, risk management, leadership skills, and more.
Once session one of camp begins, instructors are expected to be engaged with campers for the duration of program hours. Crossover and overnight instructors should be prepared to work long hours, as staff are essentially on-call for the duration of an overnight session. That being said, our summer structure incorporates mid-week breaks for overnight counselors, where their position is covered for an evening by another staff member.
What makes the staff so close throughout the duration of camp is working together, learning from one another, and bonding during off time.
At Keystone Science School, there is no “typical” summer staff member. And we think that’s part of the recipe that makes our employment experience unique. In the summer of 2021 alone, our camp staff represented every region of the United States from 12 different states. Staff were current students or alumni of 25 different universities, which are listed below.
Some staff were former campers at Keystone Science School, while others had their first camp experience ever as counselors for us. While many instructors have extensive experience in the backcountry, others had never been camping before. Most importantly, staff spent time with each other on days off by going to concerts, camping, biking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, rafting, hiking, and backpacking together. Beyond what staff learned during our early summer training, they learned from one another both during work hours and during off time.
Appalachian State University
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado State University, Fort Collins
East Tennessee State University
Montana State University, Bozeman
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Massachusetts
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
University of New Hampshire
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Puget Sound
Western Washington University
California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia
Housing & Food
Part of the daily routine of being an instructor is, of course, where you sleep and when and what you eat. Depending on your summer position, you may be housed in one of several different options, some of which can change depending on your role during a given session. Accommodations include rustic historic cabins that have electricity but no running water, a new modern shared living space, and two historical homes with running water, showers, and toilets. Counselors working Discovery overnight will sleep in the dormitories or Snake River Village, depending on the program they are working. There are always buildings close by the cabins and the canvas tents that have running water (i.e. toilets, showers, etc). Residents also have access to all buildings around campus, including the staff kitchen.
We are lucky to have breakfast and dinner cooked and served for staff on all days that camp is in session. Lunch during camp days can be made before breakfast begins or while preparing camper lunches, depending on the program you are working. On weekends when staff are not working Fusion, there is access to leftovers and ingredients in the Rives dining hall kitchen, as well as access to the two fridges in the Granite Grill in our main office space. (Most cabins and dorms are furnished with at least one mini fridge as well.)
All food allergies and dietary restrictions are considered by our chef, who will have alternatives available each meal and in the kitchen.
KSS Staff Progression
We make a commitment to help our staff grow within each job role and strive to create opportunities for each staff member to grow within the KSS organization. Each staff member has their own unique journey but we want to help each person grow and gain skills for their next step. Being a camp counselor can be a great foot in the door to being a seasonal program staff member, year round program instructor, or even a custom experience specialist or marketing support role. Throughout our hiring process we will share more about opportunities throughout our organization and ways to keep you engaged in the KSS Community.
Beyond KSS, many summer camp alumni have moved into positions within the outdoor and education industries, as illustrated below.