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.”
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.”
Dan & Jane are already counting down the days to 2022! Dan is busy working on camp projects/improvements and Jane is helping with camper and staff recruitment. They have enjoyed seeing many campers at the Fall Family Day, Pop-Ups and home visits. In their personal life, Jane and Dan have been busy moving to a new home in Short Hills, New Jersey, and enjoying time with their grandchildren.
After a great round of Pop-Ups in the tri-state area, Eliza is full speed ahead in planning for 2022! She is planning overnight trips and day trips, booking outside entertainment, and working on the camp calendar. Outside of the office, she is playing tennis, golf and pickleball!
Jocelyn is busy already hiring camp staff for 2022 and says it will be the best year yet! In addition to staffing she is enjoying spending time with her daughters and baking!
Kyle and Elena are hard at work assisting with maintenance, staffing and the conference center. Off camp, they are enjoying time with their daughter, Sasha!
Pilar is busy working on… A little bit of everything! She is helping with operations, staffing and planning for next summer, and she is gearing up for coaching this basketball season in Honesdale.
Becky is busy working with Dan on projects and updates at camp. When not at camp, she uses her free time to enjoy her hometown of Honesdale, PA!
This fall, Emily has been working at Bryn Mawr’s Conference Center full time, as well as recruiting and enrolling new Riding Campers for 2022. She is looking forward to helping Jocelyn with camp staffing this season as well. She has been spending her spare time with her husband Torrey and her two dogs, Delilah and Piper, who love going for walks at the farm!
Jocelyn has been hard at work recruiting and hiring our staff for Summer 2021! We are thrilled to report that many of your favorite staff members will be returning this summer. Here’s a look at who’s coming back to camp, plus some of the new staff members who will be making their Bryn Mawr debut in 2021.
Parents, older sisters and alumni: Do you know someone who would make an amazing Bryn Mawr counselor? We would love to hear from them. Let them know that they can learn more and apply online today!
Assistant Directors: Bill Widman Jocelyn Glantz Maxine Matovic
Loyalty means being true, faith and honor in all we do. Beauty is in more than skin, beauty comes from deep within. Merit is working hard all day, developing virtue along the way. Comradeship is being a friend, loving others ‘til the end. As Bryn Mawr Angels we’ll uphold these four values: the Angel Code.
When I first started working at Bryn Mawr I had no idea just how much that paragraph up there would change my life. I thought I was in for a one-time deal, a summer job that would let me experience the East Coast and maybe an introduction to sleep-away camp that I had never had before. Imagine my surprise to find myself sitting here, in my 7th summer, writing this blog!
You know that Bryn Mawr is a unique place, a place that fosters lifelong friendships—‘summer sisters’. A place where your Angel can be free to express herself and to try new things. A place where she can roll out of bed, throw on a uniform, and greet the day where the emphasis is on her experience rather than her appearance. It is a place where the Angel Code is so deeply entrenched that it is a part of every activity and every program lesson.
I am here to tell you that Bryn Mawr is a unique place for a completely different reason, and one you might not have even considered. The staff, a team of professionals who are here doing what they do best—inspiring, leading, teaching. The staff, who come back summer after summer for the very same reason your daughters do! The Angel Philosophy and what it means in our lives also. The staff at Bryn Mawr genuinely understand the magnitude of the responsibility they have been given for the summer—your children! Understanding that responsibility makes the four virtues in the Angel Philosophy that much more important because in order to teach it and pass it along we need to feel it, embrace it, and allow it to change our lives just as surely as it changes the lives of the campers. And I am here to testify that it does!
I will be writing more about the Angel Code as the summer goes on. I will be looking for those situations that exemplify the Angel Philosophy so that I can share it with all of you and give you not only a glimpse into the summer home that your Angels love so much but also just why the staff here are so inspired and passionate and even awestruck to be working at LBMC.
Today, we hosted a parent panel for our staff members. It allows selected parents to explain why they chose Bryn Mawr, what they expect and would like from our counselors. It also allows our staff to ask questions and get first hand answers from our parents. Through staff evaluations, we have found that this session historically rates as the most meaningful during the week. Below is an email we received last year from one of those parents who participated in this session.
It is not often that a person gets invited to look inside the guts of a business, a restaurant, a hotel, a school or even a home. And, for good reason, most of us don’t really want to know what is on the inside – as long as the person, product or end result is what we wanted, we feel good about it. Simply put, when you don’t want to risk the chance of falling out of love with something because you see too much – sometimes its just easier not to go inside.
I never really wanted to see inside LBMC. In fact, I never really thought deeply enough about the inner workings of a girls camp to care. I just knew that it was considered a great camp that was safe and seemingly well–run. That is, until I had the chance to go deep inside. I wasn’t invited in at the time the camp was fully operational with kids – rather, I had the chance to see under the hood at the most vulnerable time for a camp or a business – when it is not yet open for business, when everything is exposed, when people are who they are – no pretenses, no show, no nothing. It’s one thing to see a camp fully functioning with happy kids – it’s another to see what happens behind the scenes – and to gain a better understanding of why the kids are in a place to be happy.
What I saw and experienced, even surprised me – a 15-year camp veteran who held a senior leadership position in a respected boys camp for many years. I saw a team of professionals doing what they do best – teaching, leading, inspiring and digging deep. I saw young women and even a few men absolutely soaking up the lessons and opportunity. I saw a culture being articulated and understood and most of all, embraced. I saw people at work who genuinely understood the magnitude of the responsibility ahead. To many of the young women I spoke to, this wasn’t just a summer job, but an opportunity of a lifetime. That alone made me feel great about where my daughter was heading in a few short days.
I followed the counselors training schedule for an afternoon. It was jam-packed with activities – real learning opportunities, both for them to learn about their responsibilities as well as for the camp’s leadership to learn about them. Few businesses go to the lengths to train full time year round employees like LBMC does with their staff. They understand the psychology and attention necessary to prepare their team for our children.
One of my highlights was getting to watch the “traditions” presentation and sing the camp’s alma mater. It was moving – the camaraderie, the commitment and the detail of what my daughter was about to experience. It was incredible to see snippets of every major tradition and planned highlight of the summer.
But, there was more. I was put to work. I had the honor (at first I didn’t understand it) of serving dinner and breakfast. I had the chance to personally interact with people of all different backgrounds from across the country and globe. I got to experience a genuine warmth and gratitude from the staff – just for putting eggs on their plate. It was an amazing feeling.
I also had a chance to spend time with the male staff and to replace all the beds and mattresses. There was nothing wrong with any of the oak framed beds and most of the mattresses were in fine shape – when I asked why – I was told that we wanted to build new beds that were more appropriate for our campers. They didn’t have to, and quite honestly no one would know they ever changed them out, but they did it anyway. It is the story that I saw replicated again and again – from the bunks to the kitchen to the fields. It was also a reinforcement of the type of people that are employed by the camp and the unusual level of commitment to doing it right – because it is the right thing to do.
I also got to see something that I wish I fully appreciated for my daughter over the first 2 years she has been at camp. I saw Jane and Dan and their full leadership team meet for more than 4 hours discussing every single counselor in excruciating detail – going through their backgrounds, their job interviews and the notes from the days training sessions so they could perfectly match the personality and skill set to a particular set of campers. At the end of the four hours, when I thought they were done, they shared that this meeting would be repeated at least 4 other times – not including the hundreds of the sidebar conversations about each of the individual counsellors. And, that there were exercises designed to provide even greater exploration and assurance that the decisions they had made, were in fact the correct ones.
I had always hoped that my daughter’s counselor would be well vetted and trained. And, I had hoped that the camp would give her a good counselor. I never, in all my years in camping, have seen the absolute obsession with getting it right – for the kids and the counselors. It is as close to a science and an art as any professional placement I have ever seen.
There is never a guarantee that a child is going to be happy. But, by going to the lengths they do, they give every child a chance. They put each child, long before they get to camp, the chance to be herself and to succeed.
I wasn’t just there to look inside for the fun of it. In reality, it was accidental. I was there as part of a specific staff training exercise (and since I live far away, I had to fly in the day before). Along with 3 other parents, I was invited for a one hour session to talk to staff from a parent’s perspective (and in my case, not just a dad but a former counselor, group leader.)
Before last summer this had never been done before at LBMC, or probably any camp around the US. Remember, a camp counselor is not a parent, but a young woman who acts as a parent, an older sister and friend for the seven weeks our daughters are at camp. Jane and Dan believe it is important to not only have experts come in and train staff, but actual parents. The result was an understanding of why we entrust our daughters to LBMC, and what we hope they will get out of the summer. The counselors left with an even deeper respect for their role and an understanding that every child is some mom and dad’s little girl, and that individual needs to be understood for who she is and loved all summer.
As I left camp on Father’s Day, away from my family after spending two days as an insider, I realized that the greatest gift I could have ever been given, was given that day – the absolute understanding that my daughter is in the safest, most loving and caring environment with people who not only know, but are truly committed to doing it right.
Jane and Dan are the difference. I have never seen two people so committed to others – employees and campers alike. They demonstrated an understanding that that regardless of the history, the rich traditions, the activities, the friendships — it is the individual that matters – from top to bottom and everyone in between. As they shared, some people may think knowing a name is important – what is important at LBMC, is really knowing the child — each child, each family, each counselor and each other. I learned that its not the surface conversation, but the in-depth understanding and connection that makes the camp what it is.
As I left camp, after feeling that I had been there for the summer, I was flooded with emotion. I don’t remember ever being as awestruck, inspired or passionate about something as I am about LBMC.
Now, I can only wait with absolute excitement and childlike anticipation for my daughter’s bus to arrive at camp in 4 days for what I know is the beginning of an amazing summer with people who know her and care for her deeply. Thank you for allowing me inside. Thank you for letting me see it the way that it truly is. Thank you for doing it right. And, thank you for loving my daughter for who she is.
In past blog posts, we’ve talked about how we teach our campers to be role models. One important part of that process is providing campers with great staff role models who can show them what good leadership looks like. And we spend a lot of time working with our staff members to help them, in turn, understand how they can model great behaviors for our campers. We really meant it when we said the learning never stops, even for our directors and leadership staff!
We start off each summer with two weeklong sessions designed just for our staff members, to get them geared up for the season, ready to do their jobs and make camp the best experience possible for our Bryn Mawr Angels. During Leadership Week, our group leaders, program directors and other key staff members spend their days reacquainting themselves with camp, talking about Bryn Mawr philosophies and preparing to welcome a new crop of counselors.
At the end of Leadership Week, we welcome our entire staff — returning counselors as well as new staff members who made it through our rigorous recruiting process — for Staff Week, a special week of camp planned just for our general staff.
We plan Bryn Mawr Staff Week with five goals in mind:
1. Introduce staff to camp: facility, policies, procedures, etc. 2. Make everyone feel welcome and comfortable in their surroundings. 3. Help staff understand what their role is at camp. 4. Prepare for the arrival of campers. 5. Make sure all staff members understand the LBMC camp philosophy.
We believe our Staff Week is one of the most unique counselor orientation programs in summer camping. Lots of camps do a fantastic job of helping their staff members learn rules, traditions and emergency procedures, and while all those important topics are covered during Bryn Mawr’s Staff Week, we strive to make our staff training an experience that immerses counselors in camp life so they really understand what it means to be part of the Bryn Mawr family. We provide information in unconventional ways — for example, instead of just going over uniform rules, our group leaders put on a uniform do’s-and-don’ts fashion show, and instead of explaining what the surprise breakout for an all-camp special event like Color War or Olympics is, we organize a scaled-down special event so counselors can get a taste of camp at its most spirited. We’ve found over the years that these unusual (and entertaining) methods of teaching counselors about camp are extremely effective in helping staff really understand what Bryn Mawr is all about. Our counselors don’t just learn about camp from a handbook or an informational speech, they get to experience it for themselves before the campers ever arrive.
During Staff Week, we give counselors as realistic a camp experience as possible, introducing them to Bryn Mawr traditions and spirit, orienting them to the campus and the daily schedule, and getting them up to speed on rules and policies. Just as important as the nuts and bolts of daily camp life, though, are the sessions on leadership, role modeling and working with girls. Counselors reflect on who they were as children and what they wanted and needed from the adults around them. We talk about what it means to be a leader and a role model and how we can all model positive behaviors for our campers. We give counselors opportunities to practice positive leadership through role play scenarios. We bring in camp guru Bob Ditter to provide in-depth training. We even bring in camp parents to talk to the staff about their hopes and expectations for their daughters. Staff Week is all about understanding camp and understanding the important leadership role of a counselor.
Counselors finish the week excited about camp, ready to meet their campers — and prepared to assume the responsibilities of being great leaders and role models! But the training doesn’t stop once the campers arrive. We continue to provide ongoing leadership training throughout the summer in weekly staff meetings and through one-on-one and small group sessions. Bob Ditter returns to camp later in the summer as well, to check in with the staff and work with individual counselors. From the moment they set foot on campus to the morning they set off for home in August, counselors are learning just as much as campers what it means to be a role model — and passing those lessons on to Bryn Mawr campers.