Working at Unirondack

A Summer on Staff

So, you’re interested in working at Unirondack? Well, 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.

About Unirondack

Unirondack is a Unitarian Universalist children’s summer camp located on Beaver Lake in the Western Adirondacks. 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.

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!