The countdown to camp is ON, and we can’t wait to welcome our newest Angels to Summer 2022 at Bryn Mawr! In this special edition of the Poplar Post, you and your parents can read all about what to expect on the first day of camp.
Every year, we welcome staff from around the country and around the world. Some of them have been working at camp for many years, but even the most experienced camp staff member was once brand new to LBMC! We asked some of our returning staff members how working at Camp Bryn Mawr is is different from what they expected when they first came to camp.
“I truly had no idea what was in store for me before I arrived for my first summer. It turned out to be the hardest, most wonderful and one of a kind experience I could have asked for. I left a piece of my heart at Bryn Mawr, and I had no idea that camp would hold that much power!”
“I went to camp growing up for after-school, track-out, and summer camp. But the culture at Bryn Mawr goes beyond its function as childcare. It cares for the mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of every kid in addition to the physical, and I would argue that it cares for its staff to the same degree. Bryn Mawr is a family at heart.”
“I expected to make the biggest impacts on campers in my program area. It turned out the biggest impacts often happen outside of a program area.”
“The idea of working a full summer was daunting, but once I was there, I was having so much fun and time really flew by.”
“I think I felt a stronger sense of community and belonging than I expected to, being an international staff member. I also feel like I was valued more than I expected to be, and was given more responsibility, which felt really nice.”
“It was way more fun than I expected. I liked that, especially at the beginning, there was an introspection part to it.”
“There are moments and conversations I had with people that I never expected, and it was so good to fully feel alive! Like I was experiencing all the emotions, and for once it was okay, and other people related to me too.”
“It’s completely incomparable to any job I’ve ever had or probably will ever have again. I really feel I gave LBMC my everything. It was a lot — but also a lot of fun and felt good.”
“Bryn Mawr was supposed to be a one-time summer experience while I was still in undergrad. As I go into my 16th summer I can easily say that Bryn Mawr is a special place to work! They call it the Bryn Mawr family for a reason. Working at camp is definitely not the easiest job, but I would say it is the most rewarding job! You are able to make friends with other staff from all over the world, you are in an environment which empowers staff to lead and try new things, you learn to be vulnerable and how to ask for help. This place has shaped me into the person I am today.”
It’s no secret that horses and riding are an important part of camp life at LBMC! For our Angels who love equestrian sports, as well as the girls who attend Bryn Mawr Riding Camp, the stables, arenas and trails are where amazing summer memories are made. To make this magic happen, we rely on staff members who love horses and riding just as much as our campers — but our campers aren’t the only ones who benefit! A summer equestrian job at camp comes with opportunities that our riding staff wouldn’t find anywhere else.
An equestrian summer job with a difference
Ask Emily Tyler, our riding camp director, why she has stayed at Bryn Mawr for more than a decade, and she’ll tell you: Working at camp is an experience like no other.
“The connections and bonds that you make with campers and staff are indescribable,” she said. “You also get to immerse yourself in an environment where you’re learning about all aspects of horse care, stable management, and teaching.”
Camp is a place where equestrians can share their love of horses and riding with the next generation.
“The campers who are here for the equestrian experience, they share that same passion,” Emily said.
Gain teaching experience without turning pro
For competitive amateur riders, there’s a significant benefit to working as a camp counselor: USEF rules have an exemption that specifically allows amateurs to work at camp.
Many equestrian summer jobs have a significant drawback for competitive riders. In order to teach riding lessons for pay, they must give up their amateur status with U.S. Equestrian. It can be a tough choice if you want to gain teaching experience but aren’t ready to compete as a professional.
Because our riding counselors also live in cabins and supervise campers away from the stables, they are able to take advantage of the camp exemption and maintain their amateur status! A summer camp equestrian job is the perfect way to develop your skills as a riding instructor while you continue to show at your preferred level.
Hone your stable management skills (and more)
Between our on-campus riding stable and our 50-acre Bryn Mawr Farms complex, our riding staff cares for about 40 horses each summer. Our horses come from the equestrian teams at the University of Findlay and Centenary University, and Emily and her staff take pride in caring for these animals, who need to remain in tip-top shape for intercollegiate competition. It’s a great opportunity to learn and improve stable management skills.
“We monitor for specific horses’ nutrition, hoof care, wound care, and basic health management,” Emily explained. “Our staff really get to learn a lot about caring for horses and running a stable.”
But one of the things that makes camp special, she added, is that there is so much to experience outside the barn.
“The benefit of being at camp is you get to try new things,” Emily said. “Campfires, paddle boarding, tubing, adventure programs — you get to do all the ‘camp’ things.” That includes favorite fun traditions in the arena as well, like horse shows, fun rides and games, horse beauty contests, and in-house competitions for staff and campers.
Make friendships that last
Above all else, Emily added, the best thing about an equestrian job at camp is the same thing that makes any camp job special: friendship.
“You make friends from all over,” she said. “You meet people from all different walks of life — not just staff but campers, too. You form close bonds with people from all over the world.”
When you combine that with the teaching experience, professional development, and fun, she said, it’s hard to compare working at camp to anything else.
“Camp is a one-of-a-kind experience,” Emily said. “There’s no other equestrian job quite like it.”
Music is a part of every day at camp! From the first sounds of Reveille to the final notes of Taps, we are always singing, dancing and getting energized by our favorite songs. Whether it’s a Dining Hall cheer, the Alma Mater, or the hit song of the summer, there are certain tunes that just feel like camp. We asked some of our summer camp staff about the songs that say “Bryn Mawr” to them:
You’re in charge of picking music for the new staff recruiting video. The first scene is a sweeping shot over Cabin Row as camp is coming to life first thing in the morning. What song do you pick to accompany this scene, and why?
“I would choose the song ‘Love Myself’ by Hailee Steinfeld. In my time at Bryn Mawr, I found that I got to know myself better, learned to love myself, and relocated my inner child.”
“‘Beautiful Day’ by U2. I’m sure there are songs that campers may be more familiar with, but this is the first song that came to mind and was truly what I thought every single morning on the way to our early leadership meetings: ‘It’s a beautiful day!!’”
Working at camp is an experience unlike any other! Summer camp jobs are great for developing skills like communication, adaptability, and creativity — experiences that will serve camp staff alumni well in any career field. But camp jobs provide more than just valuable work experience. As a member of our summer camp staff, you become part of an incredible community, living, working and playing alongside co-workers and campers who start to feel like a big extended family. Many of our staff members find that one summer simply isn’t enough — they want to come back year after year to continue growing, teaching, and immersing themselves in the Bryn Mawr spirit!
We asked some of our returning staff members to think back to the moment when they first knew that they would be coming back to LBMC for another summer at camp. Here are some of their memories:
“There wasn’t one single moment that made me want to return to camp; it was once I was home and couldn’t stop talking about camp and going on and on about how utterly wonderful it was and how much I missed it.”
“At some point, a Division Head asked me to envision one of my hardest days at home and then think about how that compares to my hardest day at camp… they didn’t compare!!! The hard day at camp felt about a million times better than a hard day in the real world. This made me put the camp experience into perspective … I turned my attitude and started practicing gratitude, then decided that coming back to camp was a necessity and started ‘living 10 for 2.’”
“Group Leaders were on Cabin Row supervising. Someone was playing music over a speaker, and a bunch of us were passing a ball. The circle kept growing as more girls came over to join; it didn’t matter how old you were or if you knew anyone else. The sunset was gorgeous and everyone was laughing. I felt goofy and alive in a way I haven’t since I was a kid. There was no judgment about your throwing skills, only support and love.”
“The last week of camp I couldn’t believe two months were already gone, and I couldn’t believe all the great experiences I had in my job, with campers and meeting new staff. In that moment, I knew I was going to miss camp so much, so I told myself: ‘You know what? This doesn’t have to be the last time being here at camp. I’m coming back next summer for more experiences!’”
“It was the first couple of weeks at camp when I knew I would be back. The staff and campers were so welcoming and made this ‘job’ way too much fun not to come back. There was an indescribable feeling and something that clicked with me the first week when campers arrived. I knew I would be with LBMC for the long haul.”
“I was so surprised by Sing, in the best way. At first it sounded kind of weird and really stressful for this one thing, but once I experienced it, I understood what it all meant… How girls grow up going to camp, and doing this and being on stage and having Jane say one last thing, it was really special. I thought about how lucky the girls were to have that, and how special it is to be a part of their experience and to get to see all their hard work come to life. I would love to keep being a part of this and seeing everyone grow.”
“When the girls asked me to come back! They begged! Of course I had made heartfelt connections, and I want to see them again, want to watch them turn into amazing young women and hopefully maybe even help in the process.”
Working at camp is more than just a summer job — it means joining a community with its own history, traditions, and culture. We often hear campers talk about their “summer sisters” and their “camp family,” and that got us thinking… if Bryn Mawr were a real member of the family, who would it be? We asked some of our returning staff to imagine LBMC as a relative. Here’s what they had to say:
“Bryn Mawr would be a grandma. One, because Bryn Mawr has been around a long time! Second, because Bryn Mawr cares about you and your development as a person.”
“Camp would be the fun aunt 😂 It’s your home away from home and you can do all sorts of things that no one outside of camp ever has to know about. You have so much fun without a care in the world, it puts a pause in the outside reality, and you still grow so much in ways you wouldn’t have normally.”
“Bryn Mawr is an older sister. You learn so many lessons but also can be silly and goofy with them.”
“Grandpa. Because he’s far off and full of every possible range of emotions. When you finally see him, it’s a big deal and you cherish it. He can be stern and has a lot of expectations for you to be a respectable child but also knows you’re a child wants you to be happy and enjoy life. He’s one to make proud and to be proud of.”
“I feel like there’s definitely a nurturing element of Bryn Mawr, so it has to be someone older, but then it’s also really fun and a little bit out of everyone’s comfort zone, so more like a fun cool auntie.”
“Bryn Mawr would be like an uncle to me. I don’t see them very often, but when I do, it’s like no time has passed. They are wise and after seeing them, I feel as though I have grown immensely.”
Working at camp is like being the fun aunt!
“I think Bryn Mawr would be the aunt of the family. I really look up to my aunts for comfort, laughter, hugs, advice and I feel like we get all of that at camp. The aunt is important because we are close and they get to see us grow up, but it’s different than a relationship with our parents. We know they care and love us and want what’s best for us, but we also get to have a little independence with them and see ourselves grow.”
“I don’t think you can pick just one. Bryn Mawr encompasses every role of a family, which is why it is so special. Bryn Mawr provides the love and support of a mom and dad as they guide the staff to grow and learn through every experience. Bryn Mawr provides the siblings to laugh and cry with through the good and challenging times. And of course the extended family that brings the impromptu moments, silliness, and adventure into our lives!”
“Bryn Mawr is my mom. Bryn Mawr is my collection of aunts I admire. Bryn Mawr is my sisters. Bryn Mawr is my endless female cousins. Bryn Mawr to me is every fierce and powerful woman in my life, in my family. There is no place else where I feel so empowered and needed and like I am welcomed with open arms. Bryn Mawr envelops you in love and warmth and empathy and that inspires you to give that back tenfold. It inspires me.”
One of the best things about summer camp jobs is that there is truly a place for everyone! From cabin specialists who get to spend the day alongside their own group of campers to group leaders who keep things running smoothly for an entire age group, from program staff who teach activities like gymnastics, swimming, soccer, outdoor adventure and drama to support staff who ensure everyone at camp is comfortably fed, housed and kept in clean laundry, there are many different jobs at camp… and each and every one plays a vital role in creating our summer magic.
We asked some of our staff members a tough question: What is the best summer camp job at LBMC? And what makes it the best? Here’s what they had to say.
What Is The Best Job At Camp?
“I think any job at camp could be the best job. Every job is what you make of it! It depends on the personality of the person doing that job!”
“I’ve only ever worked in one program area, but I’ve seen two sides of it. I’ve worked as a general counselor, and that is awesome. It is exhausting both physically and emotionally, but the connections and relationships with your campers are the best. I remember every camper I had and could tell you where they all slept and a favorite movement with each. Leadership is amazing because you get to contribute to everyone’s experience, both campers and general staff, but the relationship between a cabin counselor and a camper is unlike any other.”
“Working at camp is just being surrounded by amazing strong women! My direct superior: woman. Her direct superior: woman. Owner of camp: woman (well, and Dan 😁). I think that is amazing … Empowered women empower women. I truly believe that being surrounded by amazing women will make any job at this camp AMAZING.”
“Any job where you get to work with the girls! They’re silly, goofy, smart, intelligent, and at camp to grow/have fun/make friends… it sounds pretty similar to the reasons staff come to camp.”
“I may be biased, but being a Group Leader is hands down the best job at camp. I not only was able to form meaningful connections with the sweetest girls in the Manor House, but I was able to form even deeper connections with the MH staff. Being able to be the go-to person for everyone in that house meant the world to me. I got to be a part of the outstanding leadership team that provided me with limitless resources and comfort and overall a group of people who stood by me and lifted me up and helped me every single day.”
“I love being a counselor and getting to get to know the girls and work with them.”
“Aquatics, because you get to spend a lot of time at the pool with the beautiful view. And (most of the time) the girls really enjoy being there, so that’s really fun to see.”
“Being a cabin specialist, you get to do the activities with the girls almost as if you were a camper too!”
“I really enjoyed serving food and getting to see everyone’s faces. It was fun to be able to see everyone, especially if you may not have them in program or are with them a lot. It was good to get to remember names and have quick little conversations as the campers go through the line.”
“Probably Bryn’s job! Because who doesn’t want to be a dog.”
What do you think will be your favorite part of working at camp? Check out our list of summer camp jobs and apply today!
One of the thing that sets Bryn Mawr apart from a lot of other summer camps is our uniform policy. We’re all-uniform, all the time, with the exception of some optional nights, socials and special events. At first blush, it might seem a little bit old fashioned, but after more than 90 summers, we’re convinced that a camp uniform is as good for campers today as it was in 1920, for many reasons:
A uniform lets kids be kids.
From a very young age, our daughters experience all kinds of pressure to look and dress in certain ways. Girls have always felt pressure to be “pretty,” “girly” or “ladylike,” but now even very young girls are beginning to respond to a sense that they should be “sexy.” National retailers have attracted controversy by marketing thong underwear, string bikinis and other risqué clothing in little girls’ sizes. We love that camp is a place where girls can escape from messages that tell them they need to look and act like miniature versions of Megan Fox or Miley Cyrus. Simple shorts and T-shirts are not only the most comfortable apparel for playing outdoors, they’re the official uniform of childhood, and they let girls relax and just be themselves.
A uniform keeps the focus on camp.
Camp is a great getaway for kids. They get a break from school, from technology, and from the unhealthy competition that can unfortunately be a part of growing up. Our campers don’t have to worry whether they’re coming to camp with the trendiest clothes or the right handbag, because they know they’re coming with the same clothes as every other camper. When they get dressed in the morning, they don’t have to think about whether their outfit will be cool or mature enough, because they’re choosing from the same selection of shorts, T-shirts and sweats that every other camper has in her wardrobe. Instead, they can focus on the activities they’re planning to participate in, the skills they’ll learn, and the special events they have to look forward to.
A uniform creates a sense of community.
At Bryn Mawr, we live every day by the values of Loyalty, Beauty, Merit and Comradeship. Those values are reflected in the uniform we wear. It supports a sense of camp loyalty and pride; reinforces that beauty is something that comes from within, not from a store; reminds us that each person is equally deserving of respect; and helps us create a feeling of community among our campers and staff.
We love that our camp uniform helps create a positive atmosphere at Bryn Mawr… and we love that it’s easy to wear! In fact, campers and counselors tell us every year that it’s hard to adjust to life after camp, when they have to start thinking more about what to wear and how they should look. That’s just one reason they say they look forward to getting back to camp in June!
It’s a question lots of parents struggle with: How much is too much when it comes to extracurricular activities? Of course, there are days when the drive from soccer practice to karate to Hebrew school is enough to make any parent ready to cancel all the after-school appointments, especially when you’re eating dinner in the car yet again. But the structure, enrichment, socialization and skill development your daughter gets from those activities can help encourage healthy growth and make her more well-rounded. So where do you draw the line?
Child psychologist Dr. Janet Taylor recommends looking at your family’s schedule and then reducing commitments and activities by 10 percent.
Overscheduled kids can end up stretched too thin to perform well in school and other pursuits, but living on the go doesn’t just take its toll on children. There can be negative consequences for parents, too. From the Huffington Post:
“We have a generation of mothers and fathers who want to be all things to all people,” said Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, who specializes in adolescent medicine and behavioral issues at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “They are willing to do so much self-sacrificing for their child.”
Sound like you? Then it might be time to reevaluate what you’re booking this season. Now, no one is suggesting you become a selfish parent and refuse to shuttle your kids back and forth to their favorite activities. But, Ginsburg said, “There’s nothing more important for your child than for you to be doing well yourself.”
According to a 2011 New York Times article, having a warm, loving family life is as important to children’s development as all those enriching activities. If parents are stressed out over the time, money and energy that go into the extracurriculars, that takes a toll on that valuable family time.
“And my guess is,” he went on, “that when it comes to the happiness of kids, that kind of cramming has got to be negatively correlated. Being rushed from one event to the other is just not the way most kids want to live their lives, at least not my kid.”
So how do you strike a good balance between keeping your children active and stressing them out? The answer is sitting right across from you at the dinner table (or eating dinner in the backseat, depending on what’s on the schedule this evening). Keep an eye on your daughter’s moods. Read her body language when it’s time for ballet, lacrosse or Girl Scouts. And most importantly, ask her what she wants to do. Not only may her answers surprise you; she may learn something about herself as she decides. According to Dr. Taylor, “The process can help them think about what they like and provide an opportunity to discuss commitments, demands and expectations.”
Today is the last day of a very close Color War. To help give a better perspective of Bryn Mawr and Spirit Chains, an all camp tradition, a few former campers put together this reflection. This reflection was read at last night’s Color War event.
One an average day, it takes Bryn Mawr campers twenty minutes after reveille blows to pull on the day’s uniform, brush their teeth, and tie up their laces to be ready for breakfast. Even then, they still sluggishly walk to lineup, roused only by the smell of French toast sticks as they enter the Dining Hall. When the girls are awoken, however, by the urgency of Bunk One’s spirited cries, they are ready, alert, and energized within less than a minute. Surprisingly, the overwhelming rush of people and waves of noise approaching their cabins don’t alarm them. Rather, in less than an instant, the campers know exactly what is happening. A Spirit Chain is about to take place, and before you can say “Color War,” these girls are ready for action.
The campers wait anxiously on their porches, jumping up and down giddily as they anticipate latching onto the chain. Following Cabin One’s lead, the girls hold hands as they trot happily down cabin row, chanting the first spirit chain song. Once the circle is formed, it only takes one look around to see something remarkable unfold. The energy emanating from each individual camper is palpable, and it is shared with all fellow Angels and staff. Spirit chains have the ability to transcend the boundaries between camper and staff, regardless of age or experience. It is a cooperative effort – the first sign that Color War is less about competing with one another, and more about uniting through tradition.
It’s not necessary for the girls to know all the exact words to the songs. They somehow understand that it is more important to contribute their enthusiasm and energy to the Spirit Chain, even if that means simply clapping their hands and screaming for fifteen minutes straight.
It doesn’t take years of camp experience to appreciate why Spirit Chains are meaningful. Underneath the chants and screams, the stomps and claps, Spirit Chains uncover the heart of tradition that keeps Bryn Mawr alive – the true reminder of what camp is all about.