There are many wonderful nuances during a camper’s developmental journey, and they all bring their own unique gifts and challenges.
From how we play games at 8 years old compared to 13 years old, to how the gospel story in each nightly devotion is characterized and understood in each cabin, at Rockmont we work to remain aware of these important differences in development and how we can best honor, celebrate, and nurture them. For each of these stages, we have a certain type of Counselor in mind.
Each year we hire up to 65 Cabin Staff to partner with campers and parents on this developmental journey, and the placement of our Cabin Staff is intentional and measured.
It begins with the staff application, where applicants are able to choose which age group they’re interested in working with. Some have previous experience with certain age groups and some simply know they’re the kind of counselor who’s ready to laugh while being dog-piled by Cabin 3. During the interview, we spend time talking about these experiences and hopes and how the work changes along these developmental journeys.
Along with the application and the interview, there are two other intentional factors that go into how we place each Cabin Staff member within one of the six age-based tribes:
Assistant Counselors (18 years old) work specifically with the youngest three tribes, Buckeye, Birch, and Hickory. For their first experience on Cabin Staff at Rockmont, we place them with a co-Counselor so they’re able to grow within a peer-mentor relationship while helping with the fun and growth of the campers in their care. Counselors (19+ years old) work in all six tribes and are key to leading both the campers in their care and the peers they work with.
The energy that each age group brings is different. Within each one, the fun, challenge, and spiritual formation needs to be met on its own unique level.
- First in Bear Camp (6-10 year olds), we’re looking for Cabin Staff who can have big, fun, and silly energy: remember the Counselor laughing at the bottom of the dog pile? We also look for a certain gentleness that should be given when helping campers in an interpersonal challenge within the cabin. And finally, this age requires Cabin Staff who can help campers see God’s absolute love for them at this age, blessing the curiosity and wonder that’s fully alive and necessary for any faith journey.
- Then in Deer Camp (11-12 year olds), we’re looking for Cabin Staff who can begin to see the nuance of emerging competitiveness within games and tribal activities and how to bless and direct the energy in a way that can be supportive to all kinds of competitors. They should be someone who can speak directly in helping boys this age live alongside others as they’re really introduced to their place in a community. And finally, they should be someone who will begin helping campers understand some of the core commitments of the Christian faith such as love, forgiveness, reconciliation, creation care, and spiritual courage.
- Finally in Mountain Camp, we’re looking for Cabin Staff who help campers find their wildness in these teenage years and live into it through all aspects of camp, from tribal activities to the Council program. They challenge campers to dig deeper in areas like friendship, kindness, and independence. And finally, they help campers grow in their faith by asking the bigger questions like “who is my neighbor?” and “what does it mean to love one’s enemies?” The spiritual journey becomes even more open and shared through devotions, mentorship, and the Council program.
After evaluating each Cabin Staff applicant and where they will best fit and contribute, Rockmont’s Directors spend considerable time during staff training week teaching age-group characteristics, emotional development, and what it means to meet campers at their level. These trainings are revisited many times throughout the summer as Tribal and Camp Directors, along with full-time Directors, evaluate Cabin Staff both formally and informally in the moment.
As we work throughout the year to build a thoughtful, hard-working, welcoming, and gospel-shaped Cabin Staff, each member is put in charge of a cabin with confidence and trust.
And with the belief that they’re right where they should be: to see campers through whichever stage of their growth journey, whether this be their fifth summer or their first.