About our staff

So, you’re interested in working at Unirondack? It is impossible to effectively communicate the experience of working a summer at Unirondack in only one paragraph. It is, of course, so very contingent on the individual perspective one lends to the job. Nevertheless, there are some things you should know about working at Unirondack. First, Unirondack staff must be willing to do whatever needs to be done for the greater good. Second, that greater good is always whatever is in the best interest of the campers. Of course, we don’t always succeed in this goal. However, we make mistakes, learn, grow, and improve with each passing day. It’s worth noting that working at Unirondack means being an employee first, and a community member second. We work day in and day out for the benefit of campers and to build the community that best serves their needs. That often means putting our own needs to the side.

Unirondack staff must be willing to work with and accept all things that make our youth who they are. Respecting the inherent worth and dignity of every person is, of course, the first principle of Unitarian Universalism. It is also one of the most important prerequisites of a successful Unirondack employee.

If you are selfless in your interests, humble in your achievements, and are willing to laugh (at yourself) until it hurts, please apply!

We especially encourage people of color, gender non-conforming, and nonbinary folks to apply. A diverse staff is necessary for meeting the diverse needs of our campers.

FAQs about being on staff at Unirondack

by Director, Kris Fiore

Q. Are previous staff members guaranteed a position?

A. Actually, no. While strong staff members who are returning are offered an early interview and come with a level of familiarity, I do not explicitly reserve positions for staff members. All previous staff members are required to reapply for the following year. At the end of the summer, staff are offered exit interviews during which time the next summer’s employment is discussed. I will hire a more qualified new candidate over a less qualified returning staff member every time.

Q. Why do you prefer staff members who are 18 years old?

A. Of course, age isn’t everything! That being said, it is my experience that staff members who are 18 are more likely to come with a certain level of maturity. There are exceptions to every rule and this one is no different but I have found greater success in preferring 18 year old candidates. If you are 17 years old, your best bet is to apply for a position on the crew or in the kitchen as 17 year old staff members are not able to supervise campers alone.

Q. If I was a camper last year, am I required to take a “gap” year?

A. Simple answer, no. While I believe that a gap year has advantages, it is by no means a requirement. A gap year allows for a certain level of professional distance between the camper population and the staff member. Additionally, it encourages potential applicants to obtain other worldly experiences that may benefit their future employment at camp.

Q. Do you hire CITs?

A. Unirondack does not hire CITs. The way I see it is, if I want you on staff, I want you on staff 100%. Hierarchies have never been my favorite thing and I believe that it is more beneficial to hire a complete staff of mature, capable individuals who can equally share the responsibility for all work.

Q. How many applications do you get?

A. Typically, we receive 50-60 applications for about 35 positions. Realistically, we retain about half our staff each year which allows for 16-18 available positions. This, of course, varies year to year.

To give more specific numbers, in 2015 we received 66 applications. Of those 66, 18 staff were returning and we had 36 positions on staff. That would mean there were 38 new applications for 18 available positions.

Q. Why didn’t I get hired?

A. The reality is, every single year I must make the difficult decision to turn down intelligent, mature, and capable applicants because I just don’t have enough positions for every great possible applicant. Some years there aren’t even positions available for some areas of camp!

Q. What is the hardest part about being on staff at Unirondack?

A. This obviously varies between positions but there is one thing that is very difficult about every position. That would be the constant demand to be at your best. It is not easy to have such high expectations for such extended periods of time. At Unirondack we value the experience of the camper above all else. It is a lot of work to be so selfless and mindful of others for an entire summer. If you think this person describes you, please apply!

About Unirondack

Unirondack is located on a 9-acre plot of land on a small peninsula on Beaver Lake in the Western Adirondack Park in Upstate New York on land once occupied by the Haudenosauneega Confederacy, specifically the Mohawk and Oneida Nations. The camp is comprised of nine cabins in five buildings, a large presentation/theater space, a small recording studio, a field for large group activities or sports, a gaga pit, a swingset and small basketball court, a large Adirondack-style lodge, a large heated dormitory-style building, a dining hall which can seat 120 people, and has a lakeside artshop. We have a boathouse which has 14 canoes, 10 kayaks, and 2 sunfish sailboats as well as a small beachfront with a dock and swimming area.

If you are hard-working, creative, self-reflective, accepting of differences, and committed to creating a better world through living your values, Unirondack may be the place for you.
All jobs start the last week of June, beginning with our staff training week, and end the last week in August (for a total of 10 weeks). Approximately 65 campers and 35 staff members live at camp each week. Our campers range in age from 8-18, with our youngest camper session starting at the beginning of July and our High School aged sessions and our Family Camp taking place in August.

Being a staff member at Unirondack is an intense experience. Many past staff members say it was the most powerful and rewarding undertaking of their young adulthoods. They also say that working at Unirondack was some of the most fun they ever had. It is a wild experiment in selfless living in an intentional community and we admire the incredible folks who make up our staff community each year.

Compensation, Dates, and Details

Salary:

Counselors, Prep Cooks, Dishwashers, and Maintenance Crew Members all start with a salary of $1,250 for the summer and returning staff are offered $150 for returning for a second year and $100 for each additional year afterward. Additionally, some extraneous positions such as photographer, camp store manager, and lifeguarding adds $100 to a staff member’s salary.

Leadership staff salaries range from $1,600 to $4,000 per summer depending on certifications, experience, and position.

Other Compensation:

  • Room and board
  • Partial Travel Stipend (Train, Plane, and Bus tickets)
  • Reimbursement for certifications

Staff Week/Dates of Employment:

Staff orientation week is mandatory. The dates for staff week are following:

2019 Arrival Dates for Staff:

Leadership Staff: Wednesday, June 19 by 4pm
Kitchen Staff: Friday, June 21 by noon
Crew Staff: Friday, June 21 by noon
All other: Saturday, June 22 by 4pm

Topics covered during staff week:

  • Staff development (group games, role-playing, discussions, etc.)
  • Staff training (child development, camp procedures, camp safety & health department rules, etc.)
  • First aid and CPR training
  • Activities such as staff campfires, games, swimming, etc, etc.
  • For counselors (program planning — ie: workshop, one-shot, evening program ideas and planning)
  • For kitchen staff (meal planning, kitchen preparation, prep-cook and dishwasher training, cooking for staff during the week)
  • For maintnance crew staff (project planning, preparation of camp facilities and grounds, training, use of tools, safety procedures)
  • Trainings on anti-racism, sex education, social justice initiatives, and more

Unirondack Summer Staff Application

Before you apply…

  • All Unirondack staff members are required to attend our Staff Orientation Week (Sat. June 22 – Sat. June 29, 2019).

2019 Arrival Dates for Staff:

Leadership Staff: Wednesday, June 19 by 4pm
Kitchen Staff: Friday, June 21 by noon
Crew Staff: Friday, June 21 by noon
All other: Saturday, June 22 by 4pm

  • With few exceptions it is strongly preferred that potential staff members are available to work the entire summer. Our 2019 summer season dates are Sunday, June 21 through Saturday, August 24, 2019. If you need to make a special arrangement for leaving early at the end of the Summer (for college orientation or classes), please let us know as soon as possible. Please check your college calendar so that you know the dates you are required to be at school for the fall 2019 semester.
  • If you are applying for a counselor position you must be 18 or older. While we strongly prefer to hire kitchen staff and maintenance crew members who are 18 or older, but we do occasionally hire well-qualified 17-year-olds for our dishwashing and crew positions.
  • Our summers are drug and alcohol free. This is a requirement, not a suggestion. We require sobriety for the length of our employee’s contract. It is of the utmost importance that we are of sound mind and body at all times when caring for youth and we have found that enforcing a drug-free policy even during days off to be the best way to achieve this.
  • All potential staff members must submit at least 2 references, one of your references MUST BE A PRIOR EMPLOYER. All staff go through a background check (as required by the NYS Department of Health).
  • Summer salary includes room and board and one day off per week. Salary is paid at the end of the summer. Starting salary is $1,250 for entry-level positions.

We look forward to receiving your application, to getting to know you and to learning what you can contribute as a Unirondack staff member.

APPLY BELOW!

The earlier we receive your application, the better as most of our positions fill up early. Once we receive your application we will contact you to set up an initial phone or skype-type interview. Interviews for staff will begin February 1, 2019.

APPLICATION OPENS JANUARY 1, 2019.

APPLY HERE

People of color, transgender, and gender nonconforming or nonbinary folks are especially encouraged to apply.

Volunteer Opportunities!

For those who can’t commit to working a full summer at camp we do have volunteer opportunities. There are many different capacities in which you can volunteer. All volunteers are given a volunteer orientation and are expected to uphold our professional and community standards while at camp.

Intersession Weekend Coverage (2-3 days):

For staff alumni, come spend a weekend at camp and offer light programming and supervision for our intersession campers. This may include offering field games, supervising during meals, watching a movie with the campers, and doing arts and crafts. Coverage begins at noon on Saturdays and ends at 2pm on Sunday. Intersession volunteers are encouraged to come up to camp on Friday nights to enjoy the Friday camp activities and are also welcome to stay until Monday morning to have some quality personal time at camp on Sunday evening.

Morning Program Leader (5-6 days): 

Each morning our campers enjoy a full-camp program experience with an outside presenter. If you have a program topic you think campers might enjoy, apply to be a morning program leader! Programs are 75 minutes per day Monday – Friday. We will assist in purchasing any supplies needed for morning programs and providing supporting counselors each day. When not hosting their program, morning program leaders are encouraged to enjoy the camp community and surrounding areas at their leisure.

Kitchen (1 – 2 weeks):

Believe it or not, our kitchen relies on more than magic to make our incredible meals happen. If you are coming without any previous work experience we encourage you to apply to work as a dishwasher. If you have worked in professional kitchen settings before, consider applying to volunteer as a prep cook or working with our baker. We generally expect that kitchen volunteers are willing to work for at least one week.

Maintenance (1-2 weeks):

If getting dirty, lighting campfires, and sweating outside are your interests, consider volunteering on our maintenance crew. Some previous experience in carpentry or landscaping is strongly preferred but if you are open and willing to learn and work hard we are willing to teach crew members. Being willing to work for a stay of 1-2 weeks is expected.

Artist in Residence (1-2 weeks):

Must be at least 18 years old. For those with specialized skills in music production, theater, or visual arts, volunteer your time working at camp and offering a daily workshop to our campers. Artists in Residence offer a weekly workshop to campers which is a 75 minute commitment Monday – Friday and being willing to spend time helping out with supervision and other camp activities with campers throughout the day.

Program Staff (1-2 weeks):

Must be at least 18 years old. Volunteering for program staff can take many forms and is informed with a conversation with our Program Director. For staff alum it is possible to be a cabin counselor provided staff can commit to at least a full session. For other folks looking to volunteer for program staff we have workshops and one-shots that can be co-lead with our counselors as well as plenty of opportunities for activities supervision and community involvement.

https://goo.gl/forms/UVv2qpnCSYb07uCz1

About the Unirondack Staff

Unirondack’s staff is a strong, committed team focusing on providing a program of fun, learning and growth for our campers. Our unending focus on acceptance lays the groundwork for how we treat campers in all respects. We’ve found that by creating a universally accepting place for campers to express themselves, we build a strong community that allows all people the space to feel safe and welcome. It is a the perfect catalyst for learning, fun, and deep reflection.

Unlike some camps, every single staff member is encouraged and expected to interact with campers and enhance their camp experience. From dishwashers, to prep cooks, to counselors and crew members, we all contribute to the camper experience equally.

Our counseling staff runs a wide variety of age-appropriate activities and workshops all summer and makes sure that there is always something for everyone. Our counselors come to Unirondack with a wide range of leadership skills and talents in music, theater, arts and crafts, photography, discussion leading, athletics, swimming, boating and wilderness skills. But what makes Unirondack stand out from other camps is the imagination and creativity that our counselors bring to all of our camp activities. The wider the range of skills our staff brings to the summer, the more ingenious our programs get.

Our kitchen staff provide more than just food. The kitchen is a place of giving and warmth. With a focus on local food and an organic menu whenever possible, we believe that food is a gift of love. There is something to be said about a kitchen that sees each and every meal as a chance to make the experience at camp a better one. That is the type of staff member we are looking for in our kitchen.

Our Maintenance Crew Chief and crew members make sure that Unirondack’s infrastructure is running smoothly and that the camp is a safe place to be. Doing more than just fix toilets, our crew often jumps in to programing directly. What would a Renaissance Faire be without a drawbridge? The crew adds a special touch to camp. Whether it be in the back-breaking labor of buildings and grounds maintenance or aiding in an evening program as a zany fictional character.

We believe that it is important to carry on Unirondack traditions but also to bring new ideas and influences into our community. Some of our staff members have spent many years as youth campers while others have never been to Unirondack before and have come to Unirondack from thousands of miles away to bring irreplaceable experiences to our camp.

Potential staff members are interviewed by our Directors and Program Director, references are checked and background checks are completed.

Once the hiring process is over, our staff communicates by email to share ideas and thoughts about the summer. One week before the start of the summer our staff attends an intense week-long pre-camp orientation, which emphasizes counseling skills, community building, safety procedures, and program planning. Many of our staff members are trained in CPR and first aid.

It is our staff that makes camp a memorable experience for our campers. One comment we hear often from parents is: “The Unirondack staff helped make my child’s stay at Unirondack an incredible one.” They do, and it is one of the principal reasons why Unirondack is so special. The entire staff works together to make this a reality.