What made you think working as a camp counselor would be a good experience?
I went to a Girl Scout camp as a young girl and it was a great experience, but other than that I had never really attended any other camps. I thought working at SNJ would be a great way to work with kids, learn new skills, meet new people, and work on my teaching skills. I looked up pictures and videos of the camp and I fell in love with the beautiful campus in Portola.
How did you hear about SNJ’s programs and what made you choose us over other camps in the area?
I heard about SNJ through a job fair at UNR. I liked that SNJ focused on outdoor education as well as traditional summer camp programming.
When you were a first-time counselor what were some of your concerns about starting this new job?
Some of my concerns as a first-time counselor were managing a large group of kids and keeping them safe. I also wanted to help each camper have a great time and I was worried about not being able to give each camper the attention they deserved. I was also apprehensive about dealing with behavioral problems, but after the training I felt better prepared to handle those tough situations. After my first week, all those concerns vanished. I had a co-counselor to help me throughout the day and there are numerous safety procedures and precautions to keep the kids safe. I was able to form connections with all my campers and I think I had as much fun as they did throughout the summer.
How were you received, did you feel like you fit in, or what things helped you overcome those first time worries?
As soon as I arrived on camp I felt extremely welcome. Everyone at the camp was friendly and willing to help me out. The first week of training was when I really formed some strong connections with my fellow counselors and created great relationships with the management staff. All of the managers were very friendly, open, and they always stressed that they were there to help in any and all situations. I loved that during our trainings the managers would play the games with us. The work environment at SNJ is professional, but also fun and very team oriented. I felt like I was part of a supportive work family or a big group of friends while I was working there.
What is your favorite lesson you’ve taught through SNJ?
I always loved taking the kids up to the Challenge Course and helping them tackle their fears and push themselves to do things they never thought they could do. I also liked to lead the night hike activities because it was in a new teaching environment and the kids loved the lesson.
What memory makes you smile when you think about your summer with SNJ?
One week when it was pouring buckets of rain outside we had to keep the kids indoors and we did a lip sync battle. I was a member of the Spice Girls for the counselor song and I had a great time, but the kids had me rolling on the ground with laughter from their performances. They really got into the lip sync and it was great!
Another fun memory was when my campers made an awesome song and dance up about me and they performed it for me on the side of the pool before they jumped in. Also, all the crazy things the kids say and do always had me laughing. Color Wars was really fun this year and my favorite part was the skits that the kids did for their teams.
In what ways do you feel this job helped you grow professionally?
I’m currently studying to be an English and French teacher and this job helped me to work on my teaching and behavior management skills, while also helping me to become more comfortable and confident working with kids of all different ages and backgrounds. I have formed numerous connections that I think can and will help me in my future career.
How do you feel like you’ve made a difference in the lives of the kids you’ve worked with?
I always try to impart a love for nature and being outside to my kids and one week I saw that the whole camp experience had really had an impact on one of my campers. A young boy about nine years old shared with me at the end of the week that he loved being outside and he was going to try to be outdoors more and not play so many video games. This truly touched me and made me hopeful that I was able to share my passion for nature with my campers.
What type of person would you recommend this job to?
I would recommend this job to anyone who is passionate about working with kids and would like to spend their summer outside. This job is great for people who like to stay busy and perform hands-on tasks/skills.
What is one piece of advice you’d tell someone who was looking at jobs in the area? OR What is one piece of advice you’d tell someone who is starting with SNJ?
I would say to bring your own unique personality to your position and to remember that our focus should always be on the kids. I would say that working at SNJ is truly about being a team player and working with people from many different backgrounds. Also, you should always try to be open to new ideas, advice, and different ways to approach working with kids because you never know what might work the best. One last piece of advice would be to remember that every single child is unique and has a different story; it’s important to form connections with every camper you work with and to truly listen to them and form a relationship. This will make your job as a counselor easier throughout the week if the kids feel like you truly care about them and that they can trust you.
Summer Camp Counselor
My name is Heidi Schefcik and I am a student at the University of Nevada, Reno. I’m studying Secondary Education with an emphasis in English and French. Although I study English and French, I am fascinated by studying the Earth and all its wonders! I studied abroad in France for half a year and I loved every second of exploring a new country and hiking through new mountain ranges. I love to travel, experience new things, and see the world. Hiking, camping, skiing, backpacking, and just hanging out outside are some of my passions. I have worked with Sierra Nevada Journeys for almost a year now. I’ve worked as a counselor at their summer camps in Portola and as an intern at the Reno office. I absolutely love working with kids in outdoor settings and watching them explore the world and see new things. I am very excited to be a part of the amazing team here at Sierra Nevada Journeys!