The Value of Camp Staff

Submitted by Darrin Johnson, General Manager New England Base Camp

One of my fondest memories within Scouting was when we arrived at Worth Ranch in Palo Pinto, Texas, in the summer of ’87.  It was not my first summer camp experience, it would be the most influential though.  It was Father’s Day, it was about 100 degrees out and the parking lot was next to the swimming pool.  We got out of the van and ran to look at the pool.  The water was green and not just a little green.  Every one of us looked from the water to each other with two thoughts going through our heads: “That water looks absolutely disgusting” and “When can we get into that water”.

I really do not remember too many specifics of that week.  I remember walking up Hernia Hill about 100 times that week.  I remember going tubing down the Brazos River.  What I remember most though was the staff, and one staff member specifically-John Briggs.  He taught Swimming Merit Badge and was my favorite staff member that summer.  At the end of that week, I had a goal in Scouting.  It was not to get my Eagle and it was not to go to Philmont.  It was to work the swimming pool at Worth Ranch.

For the next several years, I went to camp every summer and every summer I knew that my goal was still to work the swimming pool.  In the summer of ’91, I finally started to work staff.  I did not know a single person on staff that summer.  No one from my Troop had ever worked at camp before, so I really did not know what to expect when I arrived.  I moved my stuff into my tent and went to the first meeting as a Worth Ranch Staff Member (just not at the pool).  We played a bunch of games to get to know each other better and spent the week getting the camp ready for campers.

That summer, I spent 8 weeks working at camp.  It would not be for several years before I finally reached my goal of working at the swimming pool, but that did not matter.  Along the way, I discovered something very important about working at summer camps.  You get to know people better then you ever would have if you were not living together at camp.  After a couple of days I got to know Mike, Jason, Chris, Travis and Daniel.  That was over 25 years ago and I still talk to them on a regular basis.  Even though we are spread across the world, we make sure to meet up once a year to reminisce about the “good ole days”.

Working staff at a camp is more than just  teaching pioneering or fishing.  It is about discovering who you are and about making friends.  I am forever grateful to John for being the type of staff member that made sure that kid wanting to take Swimming Merit Badge had a great time while he was at the pool and always said hi when hiking down the trail.  Working staff taught me how to talk to adults and kids. It taught me Scouting skills and life skills.  It gave me friends that I call family.  And it allowed me to learn and to grow.

New England Base Camp has multiple staffing opportunities.  Every weekend, our staff is ensuring that our guests have the opportunity to be out in nature learning new skills.  Each summer, you can chose between any one of the seven different locations to apply and work.  Working camp will be the best decisions you have ever made.