Help kids grow, live in a National Forest, work in a supportive community, near Lake Tahoe. It's the best, literally!
Since 1966, Mountain Camp has provided kids with a remarkable summer camp experience. We help kids develop life skills through a camp experience based on community, independence, and healthy lifestyle. We live our values everyday at camp, and through the job, our staff develop critical real world skills, build lifelong friendships, and feel the joy of having a truly rewarding job.
On the shore of beautiful Ice House Lake in the Eldorado National Forest. About 45 mins from South Lake Tahoe.
About Mountain Camp
We are an inclusive, supportive, creative, and energetic community of people dedicated to creating an incredible camp experience for kids between 2nd and 9th grade (with a Counselor-in-Training program for campers entering 10th-12th grades during our 2-week sessions). We live together all summer long in the Eldorado National Forest, surrounded by pine and cedar trees, on a 25 acre property on Ice House Lake. Each session we have about 225 campers and about 60 counselors. Our staff expands to about 90 with leadership, healthcare and kitchen staff included.
At the heart of our program is the mantra Help Kids Grow, which means that our goal is to connect with each camper, create a sense of safety and belonging, and then provide opportunities for campers to step out of their comfort zone and grow in a meaningful way through their camp experience. We teach campers social and emotional skills by role modeling the attitudes and behaviors we want them to emulate. We facilitate activities where kids can learn and practice new skills and develop self-confidence, empathy, and resilience.
Above all, the work at camp is rewarding because it is both challenging and meaningful. This job is not easy, but if you care about youth development, community building, role modeling the best elements of your own personality, all while having fun, this might be the right fit for you.
Counselors live on-site, in the cabin with campers. Cabins are usually made up of 2 counselors and 10 campers. Staff Training is mandatory and we run 10 weeks of camp in 1 and 2-week sessions (2023 season: May 28th-August 12th). On a daily basis, counselors spend about half their day with their cabin, and about half the day leading activities with groups of campers from other cabins. The day starts at 7:30 am and curfew is 11 pm.
Counselors get 2.5-3 hours of time off each day as well as a 24 hour period off each week. In-between sessions, time off stretches to 29 hours with an additional night of rest at camp while "on-duty" but without campers to supervise. Counselors cannot have their cell phones with them at all while on duty (not even in pockets or bags) and phones cannot be kept in the cabins overnight.
The safety of campers is our primary concern and counselors are never to be alone, 1 on 1 with campers, outside of eye-sight, or ear-shot of other campers or staff. There is mandatory online abuse prevention training before camp and other policies and procedures in place at camp to ensure the safety of campers and staff. Please ask if you have any questions about this.
We prioritize and provide training for maintaining healthy mental and physical well-being for both staff and campers.
The Employee Experience
When we interview 2nd-year staff and ask them why they want to come back, they talk about 2 things:
- The work matters. Spending your day helping kids grow is the most meaningful and rewarding work most of us have ever done.
- The community. Small and intentional, we are hard-working, creative, supportive people dedicated to working with kids and living our values in a beautiful natural setting, outdoors and away from technology.
Our goal is to Help Kids Grow, but counselors who dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the job always find that they too grow, both personally and professionally, through the experience. At camp, we prioritize supporting everyone to be their best self, and staff often find that the friendships they develop with co-workers are deeply connected and rewarding.
If this job is the right fit for you, it's the best job in the world. But the experience of working at Mountain Camp is not the right fit for everyone. The job has restrictions, such as limited time off and limited access to your phone or other tech, a curfew of 11 pm, a rigid daily schedule, and a living situation with limited personal space and privacy. The job is highly energetic and very interactive and social. Good self-care, self-awareness, emotional intelligence and emotional regulation are key to being successful. Please ask any questions you may have when assessing whether the position is a good fit for you.
Happy Counselors are great counselors. At camp, so much of the role modeling and facilitation that we do on a daily basis is grounded in the best individual traits and qualities of each person at camp. We hire exceptional people and pay them to be their best selves.
There are some qualities that are essential for living and working happily at camp.
- You enjoy working with kids. This means that you understand that kids can be challenging to work with and that you accept that you will need to be patient, positive, and in control at all times. We provide training and support along the way, and welcome people with all levels of experience and skill, as long as you are committed to working hard and doing your best.
- You enjoy being outdoors. Over 90% of your day is spent outside: in the forest, the sunshine, the water, and the dust! For many people, it's a dream come true, but this job requires a lot of energy, movement, and engagement. Please the job description for more info on physical requirements.
- You have a positive attitude. Camp is a small community and moods can be contagious. Over the course of the summer, everyone has tough days, but overall, optimistic, grateful, creative, goofy people make Mountain Camp a supportive, inclusive, and FUN place to work.
- You are flexible and adaptable. Camp is alive, dynamic, and unpredictable. Counselors are asked to adapt to new and changing situations and to solve problems by using creativity and good judgment.
- You are hardworking. The job is rewarding BECAUSE it is challenging. You cannot be a good counselor without working hard and investing yourself emotionally in the job. We provide lots of support to help you learn and grow throughout the summer, but you also have to be willing to bring your best self to the job every day.
Room and Board
In addition to a weekly salary, camp provides room and board (valued at $218/week for 2023). Counselors live in the cabins with the campers (usually 2 counselors and 10 campers per cabin). The cabins have bunk beds with camp mattresses (twin sheets and pillows are not provided). The cabins have electricity, but no toilets, sinks, or running water. Separate bathhouses are a short walk from the cabins. The cabins have wooden walls and metal roofs but mesh windows that do not close. Staff need to bring their own sleeping bags, and pillows. Twin sheets are optional but recommended.
The food at camp is great, and we can accommodate vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free diets. We do not use nuts or shellfish in our cooking, but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are available at every lunch and dinner. Breakfast includes a hot option each day in addition to cold cereals with a variety of milks, juices, yogurt, and fresh fruit (including berries!). There is a salad bar at every lunch and dinner, in addition to the hot options. Staff also have an area where they can store a small amount of their own food and snacks to eat during their break time.
We do not have laundry machines at camp. We reimburse a weekly sum to cover the cost of one load of laundry at a laundromat. Most staff do their laundry on their day off. There is also a laundry service, so you can send your laundry from camp and receive it back, clean and folded. This costs about twice as much as doing it on your own at a laundromat.
Staff are welcome to use the camp activity equipment on their time off, provided that the camper group in that area has what they need already. Staff often take mountain bikes, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, or sailboats on their time off. Staff can also be found doing archery, basketball, volleyball, soccer, or swimming at one of the many beaches around the lake.
There is a Staff Tent with limited WiFi, couches, a TV and a few computers for use on time off. We also have a Nintendo Switch and board games available for staff in their time off.
Getting Here and Getting Around
We recommend staff bring a personal vehicle to camp if they are able. We have a parking area where staff can safely keep their car while at camp.
We do provide initial transportation, if needed, to/from Sacramento when staff arrive at camp and leave at the end of their contract. Transportation needs to be coordinated in advance with camp and is not available during nighttime hours.
We do not provide transportation for staff on days off or time off. Staff carpool with each other, and those who have vehicles are happy to help those who don't. We always have many staff members who fly to camp or do not have a car.
We are located in the Eldorado National Forest, on Ice House Lake. Staff love swimming, paddling, and sailing on the lake on their time off. Staff often choose to hike and camp on days off at one of the many trails, campsites, or backcountry areas (Desolation Wilderness requires a permit). Summiting Pyramid Peak is a popular and strenuous day off adventure. We can loan tents and sleeping mats to staff who do not have their own.
South Lake Tahoe is a 60 min drive east with many fun options including restaurants, live music, and world class outdoor activities.
Sacramento is 90 mins west and has all the resources of a bigger city.
The San Francisco Bay Area is about a 3.5 hour drive west.
How to Apply
Please submit an application online from the link below. It may take us up to two weeks to respond to your application. Our interview process includes a quick one-way interview via an app called SparkHire. The next steps involve 2 or 3 live interviews with our directors, as well as reference checks.
Mountain Camp is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to creating a diverse and equitable work environment. Qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by local, state, or federal law.
In accordance with COVID-19 safety practices, Mountain Camp has a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, and all new hires need to be fully vaccinated and "up-to-date" with available boosters prior to their first day of employment. Mountain considers a new hire “fully vaccinated” when at least two weeks have passed after the date the employee receives their booster shot.
We hope you'll consider applying to work with us this summer.