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What does it mean to be a Counselor Assistant?

The Magic of the Counselor Assistant Program (CAP)

By Ellie Gilchrist, Current Keystone Science School Employee & Former CAP

image 004 5Whether someone has been coming to camp for years or it is their first time, being a CAP is a wonderful way for high schoolers to experience camp while getting some leadership experience.

When you are a member of the Counselor Assistant Program at KSS, you are assigned a counselor mentor that you will shadow and assist during your week at camp. You will go on the Earth Trek, overnight, and challenge hike with your counselor mentor and their assigned group of campers. During these times, you will have the opportunity to lead games, help campers with wilderness skills, and support counselors with a wide variety of tasks. However, when you come back to campus, you get to debrief with your CAP friends. CAPs get to have their own room in the dorms, separate candle chats, and a CAP night.

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Backcountry Hygiene: What steps can you take to ensure good hygiene health while in the backcountry?

Keystone Science School spends a lot of time camping in the backcountry whether it’s part of an overnight and challenge hike with Discovery Camp, or each car camping or backcountry experience on a KSS Adventure. No matter the program, KSS takes hygiene very seriously. By understanding how to maintain your hygiene and limit illness, we can ensure that everyone stays healthy while camping. Good hygiene in the backcountry is focused on keeping our hands and gear (especially kitchen tools) clean. Here are some steps that Keystone Science School takes to keep good hygiene when in the backcountry:

Hand Washing

It’s important to wash your hands frequently when spending time outdoors, KSS makes it easy to wash your hands in the backcountry by providing biodegradable soap and water reservoirs specifically for hand washing. We set up hand washing stations so we can ensure to wash our hands before meals and after using the restroom.

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Mission Moment: What’s it Like Seeing Snow for the First Time?

Snow is spectacular. That’s one thing most folks seem able to agree on. But seeing it for the first time ever, that’s beyond special. At Keystone Science School, we are beyond humbled to introduce at least a handful of students from around the state and country to snow for the first time each school year.

From September to May, KSS transforms into an outdoor learning center for K-12 schools seeking science-based field trips. Our outdoor education instructors lead students on hikes and tours of the area as they teach lessons from one of our curriculum areas: aquatic ecology, forest ecology, geology, watersheds & water management, snow & avalanche science, and winter ecology & adaptations. Whether schools visit us in the fall, winter, or spring, chances are they may encounter some snow.

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The Intentionality of KSS Activities

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Keystone Science School Summer Camp programs are full of fun games and activities but every activity is full of meaning and purpose towards a larger objective of helping youth develop more independence and confidence. Some of our most “campy” traditions are viewed by campers as simply fun activities but to our staff and parents these traditions are important aspects of the curriculum and social emotional learning that happens during each camp session. Please read about just a few of the summer camp activities to learn how each are intentionally designed to engage campers for long-term outcomes.

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What You Can Learn as a Camp Counselor

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Being a summer camp counselor can be an amazing experience. It might be one of the most challenging jobs you undertake, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. There are long hours, tons of laughter, and so many life-changing moments. The life-changing moments aren’t just for the participating summer campers but also for each KSS staff member and counselor. KSS strives for each counselor to enjoy their own life-changing moments and opportunities for life-long learning. 

Review the KSS Employment page for a list of available positions and other perks and benefits. Here’s a list of skills you can gain from being a summer camp counselor. Build your resume and gain valuable life skills!

Teambuilding Skills

Camp Counselors work with a large group of coworkers and campers, so teambuilding comes naturally. Learn how to work alongside and communicate with others to achieve a common goal. As a counselor, you will lead various activities for campers that inspire collaboration and group problem-solving. Knowing how to effectively work with others is a skill that will follow you through all future endeavors.

Risk Management

As a counselor, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your campers. You will learn how to identify and minimize risk, as well as critical evaluation and decision-making skills. These essential critical thinking and problem-solving skills are great for your resume and show a dedication to details and safety.


Camp Counselors have to be quick on their feet and able to adapt to changes at the last minute. Counselors come up with engaging activities and games on the spot and resiliency is a key quality for anyone working at summer camp.

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