Jul 19, 2018

Posted by: Kelsey O'Hara


Session 3, Day 8

One of the most important things at Ranch Camp, something that can send a camper’s summer from good to fantastic, is the dynamic of each specific cabin. While each staff member works hard to ensure that the campers know that their cabin is their family, they’re not the only ones with the power to set the tone. Each cabin family consists of campers, staff and SITs, or Staff in Training.

The SIT program at Ranch Camp is one of the most unique programs offered here. Not quite old enough to be staff, but old enough and responsible enough to take on more challenges than the average camper, many camps struggle to figure out what exactly to do with kids entering their junior year of high school. In the past few years, the SIT program has evolved to fit their specific needs, prepare them for the demands of being staff, and give them an environment in which they can become the best versions of themselves.

One such change, implemented only last year, is that the SIT sessions don’t line up exactly with the 3 regular camp sessions. Session A begins halfway through Session 1 and ends at the end of Session 2, and Session B begins halfway through Session 2 and ends at the end of Session 3. This has multiple benefits, such as preparing the prospective staff members for being away from home for a longer period of time – the most beneficial of these being that, for the first half week of their stay, SITs don’t live in cabins with campers. The time is used instead as a sort of training week, showing them the ropes of camp and giving them valuable tools they can implement when working with children. When they do move into cabins, SITs are more prepared to be an active part of the group.

SITs are an important part of camp for the campers as well. Though staff members are the first line of support, it can be exciting and refreshing for campers to be around an authority figure who is closer to their own age, and who can relate to them in a different way. They can also bridge the age gap between staff and campers, bringing the entire cabin closer as a unit.

However, it’s important to remember that SITs are still campers, and though they have responsibilities, they have their fair share in the fun of camp as well. With onegs (or evening activities), group bonding activities, and other programs, SITs get the best of being staff and the best of being campers. They also get the opportunity to shadow a specialist during the morning activities, so that they can bring their passions to camp as well.

Though SITs live in cabins and go to activities, their unique status at camp can leave them feeling separated from the rest of the community. To remedy this, another exciting change has been added to the SIT program this year – a SIT Mentor, or “Sentor,” program. Each SIT is paired with a staff member that is neither in their specialty or their cabin, a mentor who can help with situations with an objective perspective, provide advice or solutions, or even just lend a listening ear. These last few nights, SITs and staff mentors have had the chance to introduce themselves and get to know each other for the first time.

There are many things at camp that keep people coming back year after year, new programs and activities to look forward to, trips to go on, and the advancement through the three units. The SIT program is one of those things, a valuable experience for those enrolled in the program and an exciting goal for those who are continuing their Ranch Camp experience.