Summer Staff Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain an application?

Find it here! It’s best to open it on a computer with Microsoft Word, and not a tablet or phone.

Is Counselor the only job I may apply for?

Definitely not! We have a number of positions open to application: Program Assistant, Health Care Manager, Crafts Director, Drama Director, Media & Photo Specialist, Video Specialist, etc. See the Summer Camp Job Opportunities page for job descriptions.

How old do I need to be to apply?

You need to be at least 16 or turning 16 during the summer to apply. The majority of summer staff we hire are college-aged or out of college and we do tend to hire them first. Only a handful are hired while still in high school, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!

If I am not old enough to apply, is there some other opportunity to serve here at Black Rock?

Yes! Ladies, you can apply to be a Volunteer Waitress. There are four per week hired to help the Dining Room Hostess with each meal served to the campers. During free time you are able to participate in certain camp events. Gentlemen, you can apply to be a Maintenance Volunteer. Two or three per week are hired to help the Maintenance Host with the daily organization and maintenance of camp. During free time you are also able to participate in certain camp events. Both are wonderful ways to get a taste of what it’s like to be on staff here at Black Rock. Read more about it here.

Why is the application so long?

We care about the quality of the staff we hire and take the screening process seriously. However, you don’t need to be intimidated by the length either, just do you best. We aren’t looking for perfection!

You will grow spiritually if you are on staff, but you will also use your knowledge and gifts to come alongside campers and teach them about the truths of the Bible and the wonderful news of the gospel. This job is not simply fun, but a ministry, and because of that it is important that we can assess where you are in your own walk, and how you would do in discipling others. Plus, many staff members felt even the application process helped them understand what they believe and stretched them spiritually.

Do I need to fill out the entire application?

Yes. Think of the application as the first impression the director has of you – it acts as an introduction to who you are and what you can bring to the table here at Black Rock.

Can I do an internship at camp that is required for my major?

We may be able to work with you to provide the experience you need. Don’t hesitate to call to find out!

When is the deadline for applying?

There is not a strict deadline for applying, but the best time to apply is January to mid-March. We do most of the hiring in March and April. But we almost always have a few spots left in April and maybe even in May, so please check with us if it’s later in the hiring season!

What happens after I apply?

Once you submit your application to scdirector@blackrockretreat.com, you should receive a follow-up email within one or two business days. The email will explain more, but typically the progression is that we wait to receive a few of your references back, and then we will let you know if we would like to move onto an interview or not. The best way to speed up the process is to ask your references to be prompt in completing the form we send them. Interviews are best in person, but we can also do them by Skype or phone if distance is a problem. Not everyone will receive an interview.

What's the difference between Sr. & Jr. Counselor?

The main differences are level of experience/responsibility and cabin placement. Both counselors share the majority of the responsibilities, however the Sr. Counselor may have the final say in certain decisions. The Sr. Counselor is assigned one cabin at the beginning of the summer, and s/he remains there for the entirety of camp. The Jr. Counselor, however, switches cabins every two weeks to counsel with a different Sr. Counselor.

What if I have never worked at a summer camp before?

It’s okay! There are a number of new staff hired each summer that have never worked in this environment before. You will be trained thoroughly during pre-camp and supported throughout the summer.

I'm not the most outgoing person, will I be able to succeed at camp?

Camp is not just for the most energetic people. Our staff is made up of both quiet and loud, extroverted and introverted people. Much more important is your walk with Christ and heart for serving God through loving and leading the campers and staff.

Do I need to be an experienced and highly skilled counselor/program staff to succeed at camp?

Our Pre-camp Training week is very extensive and will teach you everything you need to know about working with kids and how Black Rock works. It might help if you have certain skill sets and experience, but it’s much more important to have a passion for kids and the desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus. As one camp director from Ukraine said about serving: “The main requirement is that need long arms to be able to hug children and show them Jesus.”

Do I need to have CPR and First/Aid training prior to camp?

While it is great if you already have these trainings, it is not a requirement. For those who are not up to date there will be certification sessions during Pre-Camp Training.

I don't have much experience with outdoor camping (i.e. building a fire), is that a problem?

Again, no! During Pre-Camp Training you will be taught how to build a fire and everything you need to know for Wednesday night campouts. You will always have someone else with you during those parts of camp, as well.

If hired, am I required to work the whole summer?

Yes, however if there are certain conflicts in your schedule you may discuss them with the Summer Camp Director and possibly get time off. These requests will be reviewed on an individual basis. We do not typically grant time off for family vacations, mission trips, or non-mandatory school related trips, especially requiring 3 days or more.

What if my school year runs into Pre-Camp Training?

While not ideal since Pre-Camp Training is a crucial time, it’s not the end of the world! This is something you would discuss with the Summer Camp Director and try and work out a solution. Most schools will allow some excused absences for camp, although good grades and good attendance go a long way in the eyes of school administrators. On our end we can allow some time off for taking finals and other times your attendance is required.

What is the pay?

For your first year it is $270/week for a total of $2,835 for the summer. Returning staff receive a $10 increase per week for each year they return. Pay day is every two weeks.

Will I be responsible for paying for lodging and food?

No! At Black Rock the counselors live in the cabins with their campers and food is provided free of charge.

Wouldn't I make more money at another summer job?

Compared to other summer camps we offer a very competitive salary. You might make more at other jobs, but keep in mind with those jobs you might also have transportation costs, food costs, living costs, entertainment costs, etc. But if you are at camp, you don’t have those costs PLUS you gain 40 new friends, a loving community, loads of fun, ministry opportunities every day, and growth in your own spiritual walk.

What happens if I am hired?

Celebrate! You’re in for one amazing summer and God is going to use you in amazing ways! But first, there is a lot of paperwork. We will send you a contract packet with lots of information, and it’s clearly marked which papers you keep and which ones you will complete and send back to us. You need to complete this paperwork promptly to keep your spot because until we get all your forms back and the Summer Camp Director signs the contract form, it’s not truly official.

Do I need to obtain clearances/background checks to work at camp?

In order to apply, no; in order to work here, yes. Once hired you will receive further instructions on which clearances you need and how to get them. It will be mainly your responsibility to make sure they are obtained promptly. Your hiring is contingent on completed and clean background checks.

Is there anything I need to do in preparation for camp?

Besides all the paperwork we will send you, there’s not much. If you are a counselor you will need to prepare a couple devotionals to lead with campers during the summer. All staff should remember that camp is a physically, spiritually, and emotionally demanding job so you should do your best to be ready for that, however necessary for you.

How many weeks does camp run for?

A total of 10 and a half weeks. The first week and a half is training, followed by 9 weeks of campers. There is also an optional Family Camp that staff can choose to add to the end of their summer.

What is "Special Week?"

It’s amazing and beautiful. We have been offering a week of summer camp for adults with intellectual disabilities for over 40 years! It is the first week after training. Yes it’s challenging of course, but it’s worth it because you learn what it means to be a Christ-like servant to others. Each cabin will consist of 6-7 campers, and the program staff and volunteers also serve as additional counselors for that week. Read more about it here.

What age groups will I be counseling and how many campers are in each cabin?

Each week is a specific age-group, ranging from 2nd grade-12th. See 2018 Registration Information & Dates for details. There are 8-10 campers per cabin. There are 16 cabins and we accept 144 campers per week.

Do I work with one other counselor the whole summer?

Not here! Every two weeks you will get the chance to counsel with a different person. Each cabin will always have a Sr. Counselor and a Jr. Counselor.

What happens on the weekends?

You are encourage to do whatever will most help you prepare emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the next week! You may stay on grounds (meals are provided) or you may go offsite. We advise you not travel more than 3 hours away on a weekend.

How is the quality of Black Rock's facilities?

Glad you asked! Quality is one of our core values. We think our summer camp facilities are a great balance of comfort and rustic so that it feels like camp. All of the cabins have their own fully functioning bathroom and clean living spaces. Recreation facilities are kept nice through periodic upgrades or remodeling. Check out pictures of our facilities here.

What is the basic daily schedule at camp?

Take a look at our 2017 Summer Camp Brochure. It includes a basic daily schedule and other helpful information. The Summer Camp Director also covers the daily schedule extensively during interviews.

Do you get time off each day?

Yes. Each morning you will have an hour break while your campers are at class with their other counselor. Most weekends you will have off from noon on Saturday to 7:00pm on Sunday, although a few weekends you have off on Friday nights. In the middle of the summer there will also be a Mid-Camp Break taken all together as a staff reflect, recharge, and have some fun.

Am I required to stay on camp grounds during my time off?

For the morning breaks, yes, you must stay at camp. On weekends, however, you are free to go home, go elsewhere, or stay.

Can I have my car on camp grounds?

Yes! However, you may not use it while camp is in session, and there will be designated parking areas.

I have dietary needs, will Black Rock accommodate them?

Yes. We have a wonderful kitchen staff who are very willing to work with staff and campers to meet their dietary needs.

Can I do laundry at camp?

Yes! We have a number of washing machines/dryers here at camp which you are welcome to use during breaks and/or on the weekends.

Can people send me things through the mail?

Of course! Directions for doing so will be sent in a packet you receive if you are hired.

Is there a curfew?

During the week it’s a non-issue as you will not be permitted to leave your campers alone in the cabin. Saturday has no curfew. Sunday nights will have one, as you will need to be back on camp grounds for a meeting, but the time is subject to change. Overall, the important thing to remember is that camp is exhausting, and getting enough sleep is vital to being an active participant.

Is there a dress code?

Not in terms of a uniform, but yes, modesty is vital to setting a good example for the young people you will come in contact with. More specifics will be addressed if you are hired.

Will I have access to the internet?

Yes. However, your electronics (computers, phones, etc.) will not be permitted in the cabins. You will keep them locked in the staff room and can use them only during breaks and on weekends. That means you will need to have a different alarm clock system besides your phone.

Can I bring my iPod to camp? And can I play music in the cabin?

Yes to both. Your iPod is the only device you are allowed to keep in your cabin, though it is your responsibility to keep it safe and from campers (they should not be able to listen to it by themselves). You may play Christian music, Disney songs, or instrumentals. Anything else needs to be cleared by the Summer Camp Director.

Can friends and family visit me while at camp?

Of course, but only on the weekends. Staff are even given a discount for family and friends to stay at the retreat center here at camp if desired.

What if I need something during the week?

If you really need something during the week the leadership staff will most likely be able to run out and get it for you. There is a system for that, which you will learn once at camp.

If I have medicine, do I keep it with me in my cabin?

No. Most medications or things of that nature will be turned into the health care manager at the end of pre-camp training. S/he will be in charge of distributing all camper and staff medication routinely as needed during the weeks, and then it will be returned to you each weekend.