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Teen Leadership: In-Training Program

Tawonga’s Specialist and Counselor In-Training Program: Three weeks of leadership development training and team bonding for rising 12th graders 

The SCIT application is live! Follow these four steps to register today:

1. Register for the program here. You will be automatically added to the wait list.

2. Submit an entry using the Teen Programs Application.

3. Have your reference (teacher, coach, advisor) fill out this link.

4. Call Sam Quintana, Program Manager, to set up an interview at 415.543.2267

You must apply by January 31st in order to be considered in the first round of applications.


Three Weeks: June 17 – July 6, 2018

SCIT Program Overview

The Specialist and Counselor-in-Training (SCIT) program is a selective leadership program for teens entering 12th grade who want to learn about Tawonga’s approach to working with kids. This program requires an application and interview with one of our directors.

Many teens, after they age out of their traditional camper years, find this program to be an invaluable personal and professional growth opportunity. It is also a good first step to one day becoming part of the highly acclaimed professional Tawonga staff, which includes many former SCITs.

Three Week Snapshot

The SCIT program takes place during the first three weeks of the summer, coinciding with both the  “Taste of Camp” and Session II programs. The first week of the program is training and group development for the teens. They learn from veteran Tawonga staff the ins and outs of working at camp and the overall philosophy that staff brings into their work to create the Tawonga experience. The first Shabbat and weekend of the program is spent on a group rafting trip along the beautiful South Fork of the American River, just a few hours north of Tawonga. Here, the group gets to bond further before returning to camp for work!

In the second and third weeks of the program, the teens spend about 1/2 to 2/3 of each day working with kids, alongside counselors and specialists. Here, they get to have a firsthand impact on young campers’ Tawonga experiences in the same ways that staff had on them. Teens learn what it means to be a leader and role model 24/7 and get supervised, evaluated, and coached by veteran Tawonga staff to further their growth and development.

Counselors in Training (CITs) join bunk and unit counselors to lead activities while creating and facilitating effective cabin groups.

Specialists in Training (SITs) learn the ins and outs of different specialty areas at camp, including arts & crafts, programming, waterfront, wilderness and drama.


How are SCITs chosen?

The SCIT program is selective. We are looking for teens eager to learn about working with children and ready to put that knowledge into action at camp. We take teens who are ready to transition out of their camper years and take on more responsibility and leadership at camp. The merit-based selection process consists of a written application, an in-person (preferred) or phone interview, and a reference. Experience working with younger kids (babysitting, coaching, tutoring, etc.) and leadership positions should be highlighted on applications.

I registered for the program; why am I on the waiting list?

Everyone is placed on the waiting list for the SCIT program—pending the receipt of an application, the completion of an interview, and the receipt of a reference. The application process opens up in December, and a first round of decisions is usually made in late January. Applicants will be notified by mail.

Can I still do the IT program if I’m entering 10th grade, but I’m old for my grade, and most of my friends who are a year or two older are also applying for the program?

The IT program is for teens entering 11-12th grades. If you are entering 10th grade, you can apply, but your application will be considered only after all 11-12th grade applications. We do this to be fair to those who only have one or two years left to take advantage of our multiple teen programs. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend doing one of our teen quest or service-learning programs.

Do we work the whole time as a SCIT?

The three-week program is broken into two different pieces. The first week of the program is a training week, where the group learns the specific skills and responsibilities of counselors and specialists in various training sessions. The final two weeks of the program is spent working with campers in support of the Tawonga staff. During both training and working weeks, about 1/3 of each day is spent with just the SCIT group, enjoying camp activities and bonding as a group.

What is the difference between SIT and CIT?

The two programs run simultaneously, overlap often, and share many similarities. CITs have some of their training week tailored specifically to learning the role of the counselor. SITs learn how to be specialists in all different camp programs, including arts and crafts, programming, wilderness, and waterfront. During the final two weeks of the program, teens in both programs spend approximately 2/3 of the day working with younger campers in either their specialty areas or with specific bunks.

As an SIT do I work everywhere or just in one specialist area?

Teens in the Specialist-in-Training (SIT) program will receive training in all specialty areas during the training week of the program. After receiving training in all specialty areas, SITs can choose their three favorite departments, and a custom schedule will be created for them. Every effort is made to accommodate SITs’ preferences, while allowing flexibility for them to help out wherever needed.

Spotlight on ITs: On the Blog!

readhereCheck out this IT Spotlight blog post from our 2016 Summer!

Also, read 2015 SCIT Julia-Rose Kibben’s thoughtful reflections on her experience in the program



Feel free to call our San Francisco office at 415.543.2267. Thank you!