Having just received the “waiter of the week” award
At Summit Camp, our upper camp boys and girls are also referred to as Super Teens. When you are a 15+ year old camper at Summit, you will be either an “ST” (boys super teen) or “GST” (girls super teen). Super Teens are Summit’s campers that are ready for transitional life skills such as work opportunities, independent living skills, and social learning development in a supported environment. Thus, ST’s and GST’s are generally our version of “CIT” campers.
The ST program includes the following skill activities:
Vocational opportunities– Each ST/GST camper has two active job roles throughout a camp session. The first of these is always waitering at one meal per day. ST waiters eat their meal before the rest of the camp, and then they are assigned a table for which they are usually the sole waiter. They must set the table and prepare the table for the younger campers’ arrival. They put water, bread, salad, and other food that is pre-prepared on the tables, and clean the area in preparation. Then, when the campers arrive, the waiters must bring the hot food to the table as well as get any requested items from the campers and staff there. The waiter might have to get a camper a bowl of buttered pasta who does not want the main dish, for example. Finally, the waiter must clean the table and bring the dessert course. Then, they must clean the table a final time, and when the other campers leave, they will clean the dining hall by sweeping and putting away all the leftover dishes, chairs, and tables.
In addition to the waitering position which is daily, each ST/GST participant will attend the job fair the first night of the first full day of camp. They will hear about the different job roles for which they can apply. These include working in various areas of camp : mail room, computers, instructional areas, athletics, on the play, working in the office, and helping out with camp maintenance- these are just a few of the job roles. The campers then complete an interview and are “hired” for a job. They will work twice per week. They are supervised by the staff in the area and do everything from fully sorting all the camp mail and packages to helping fix things at our bunks or helping the Unit Leader coordinate the unit play.
These positions are paid positions; the ST/GST workers receive their pay for the “day off” trips that the Super Teens take, which is also considered part of the vocational opportunity. As workers, they have Wednesday “day off”- which means they will be able to sleep in a little late, choose a special “elective” area for program activity in the morning, and then go through the off camp trip where they can use their earned money to buy souvenirs or other items.
In addition to their personal work periods, the ST’s and GST’s participate in the following programs during the week: Tribes, ADL, and Independence. Each is led by a specialist instructor hired solely for this position.
Tribes: A weekly program that reviews topics in the social learning/social thinking milieu. This program helps campers develop their inner cognitive dialogue around social concepts and improves interpersonal social awareness.
Independence house: A weekly overnight program where the bunk group will stay in our independence house facility, where they will plan a menu, cook together, and engage in social learning activities; further activities such as cleaning, laundry, and hygiene area also worked into the program.
ADL/TALS (Activities of Daily Living/Transitions to Adult Living Series): Upper camp ST’s participate 2x weekly in the ADL program. This includes topics such as career or vocational planning, relationship etiquitte, social / behavioral awareness in various environments, and activities in cooking and meal planning, budgeting, hygiene, and related topics.
These three programs are seen as interrelated and the staff coordinating these programs work together. They often have background in special education, OT, Speech/Language, and CBT.
Lions, Tigers, & Bears: The upper camp evening programs include a rotation of co-ed programming called ‘Lions, Tigers, and Bears’ in which they are divided into co-ed groups for activities such as pool parties, campfire night, or ‘social’ (like a school dance).
It is important to emphasize that the entire super teens program is focused on the development of transitional skills that will increase social skills, independence, and self-esteem. In the evening activities, when they are doing “Lions, Tigers, Bears” for example; this is a co-ed program where maybe they are having fun at a pool party or doing a social dance, but there they are practicing the social interactions that they are working on in their programs in school and at camp. When in their bunk
groups, super teens are often doing activities such as sport or discovery programs where they may be working collaboratively or problem solving differences of approach or opinion.
All Summit staff receives training in social learning and understands that the primary goal of their role regardless of the area of work is to increase social and personal development; so if you are hired to work as a “soccer instructor” at Summit you are hired with the knowledge that your primary goal is really growing people rather than making sure our campers go home knowing specific soccer moves. (Not that there’s anything wrong with soccer, it is just not our main priority!). This especially important in regards to working with our older campers, who need the right type of nurturing and encouragement coupled with respect of their age and specific needs for support.
Summit works well for our super teens first ‘work experience’ largely because it is, first and foremost, camp. Our teens benefit from engaging in a traditional adolescent social experience- which means participating in the greater communities where they are visiting as well as sharing tight quarters with each other and our staff, so the opportunity for social growth is excellent. There is also a great chance of meeting and becoming quite close with one or two other participants who you share a lot of life experience- ultimately this is something I most want Summit to provide for all our participants- the chance to meet other teens and kids who really are similar and they can really connect with on a deeper level because they share common interests, life experiences, and traits; those people which in our lives generally are the people who we truly make lasting friends with.