Dec 28, 2021

Posted by: Emily Reilly

Looking at 2022: A Letter of Unbelievable, Unimaginable, and Utmost Importance

As we wrap up what has been a wild, insane, and, most importantly, successful year, I’d like to switch from my normal monthly espousal of relatable content for our community, to something lined up specifically to share with our past, current, and future Ranch Camp staff. 

As many of past years’ staff, families, and campers know, staffing in summer ’21 was exceptionally complicated, challenging, frustrating, overwhelming; there’s a thousand adjectives I could use and it couldn’t fully describe it. I’ve always felt that working at camp, more than even going to camp as a camper, was one of the defining forces in my life and truly made me who am as a human today. It turned a shy thirteen (yes, that was once an acceptable age to begin working at camp, and yes, I was once very shy) year old boy into an outgoing, sometimes-too-confident, and compassionate individual. It taught me the importance of truly listening to those who need an ear, it taught me about running a business, and it taught me, most importantly, that working at camp, is, at the end of the day, a job. 

A job, by definition in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, is ‘a paid position of regular employment.’ Well, I can almost guarantee that camp is just about the most irregular job, with nationwide irregularities in pay. When I started at Ranch Camp, entry-level pay was abysmal. It was slightly better than when I started working at camp in 2003, where I earned about $600 for the entirety of the summer. While compensation has gone up in recent years, it certainly hasn’t increased nearly enough. If I didn’t make it clear enough above, working at camp is one of the most fun and rewarding jobs in the world. However, it’s often not mentioned that camp is also one of the most challenging, demanding, and exhausting jobs. I’ve heard it compared to everything, from deployment to crab fishing to rocket science – you name it, the comparison has been made. It is, without a doubt, the hardest job you’ll ever love. 

It’s why, in 2022, to bring in the best staff camp can, we are paying cabin staff positions at camp about 80% more than they were making last summer. Sure, an effective supervisory team is important. Sure, as you work your way up through the ranks at camp, salaries increase, just as with any job on the planet. However, our direct-care personnel have some of the most important jobs in the world – creating the experience of camp for the kids they live, work and journey through camp with. It’s critical to me, the administration of the JCC, and our lay leadership, that camp employment is considered, and feels as such in terms of compensation, a real job. It’s about as real and raw as some of the most demanding jobs on the planet, and the work done for campers literally changes lives. I cannot echo the thanks that all staff at Ranch Camp, and all the staff at camps around the globe, enough to make it worth it. The five year old in me, who learned not to get changed for swimming in the dining hall, thanks you. The ten year old in me, who developed a love for adventure in all forms, thanks you. The twenty year old in me, who learned from some of the best in the business on how to facilitate a three-day adventure for NYC teens, thanks you, beyond words, and from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul. 

In addition, one of the pleasures of both growing up at and working at camp is the connections you make with the team that you work with. I’m a big fan of bringing communities together, and camp is a place like no other to do so. It’s not abnormal to have international staff join you for a summer at camp, this summer will have more international staff from around more places on the globe than ever before, and I can’t wait to introduce our community to those we have already met. 

Looking forward to seeing you join, rejoin or reconnect with our family in 2022. 

#projectrealjob, #campismyhappyplace, #haveagreatnewyear


Ryan Bocchino