Specialist and Counselor-In-Training

Registration for our Specialist and Counselor-In-Training program is now full. If you would like to be placed on the waitlist please email our Assistant Director of Teen Programs, Sean Keelan at sean@tawonga.org



3.5 Weeks: June 13 – July 8, 2021


Rising 12th graders (current 11th graders)

A Note About COVID-19 and Tawonga’s 2021 Season

In order to prioritize the health and safety of our campers, staff, and entire Tawonga community, we have made some changes to our 2021 programs and Camp practices, which will apply to the SCIT program. You can read about these changes to our 2021 season here in our FAQs. Please read below to learn more about our SCIT program.

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, reference, 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’s also a good first step to one day becoming part of the acclaimed professional Tawonga staff, which includes many former SCITs.

Counselor in training with female campers at arts and crafts smiling
Counselors in training at a campfire

Program Details

The SCIT program takes place during Session A. The first portion 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.

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. Teens will grow personally and professionally throughout this experience as they are guided by our excellent veteran Camp staff.

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.


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. For most of the program, teens in both groups 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.

Do we work the whole time as a SCIT?

This program combines training and professional development with practical application. . The start of the program begins with training and professional development, where the group learns the specific skills and responsibilities of counselors and specialists in various training sessions. The latter half 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.

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.

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, a virtual interview, and one reference. Experience working with younger kids (babysitting, coaching, tutoring, etc.) and leadership positions should be highlighted on applications.

Counselors in training with campers smiling

How To Apply

NEW Applicants:

Specialist and Counselor in Training applicants must complete all four steps in the application process to be considered for the program.

  1. Make sure your parent or guardian registers you through their Camp-In-Touch account, just like they would for any other Tawonga program. You will be automatically put on the waitlist.
  2. Complete the online Teen Program Application and indicate SCIT as your program choice.
  3. Request a reference to support your application. Copy and paste this link and send it to your reference for them to submit electronically. Your reference can be a supervisor, coach, professor, youth group advisor or anyone else who has seen you work in a professional or leadership context. Please note that your reference must come from outside of the Camp Tawonga community. Additionally, this reference must be a different person if have previously applied for a Tawonga teen program in previous years.
  4. Contact Sean Keelan, our Assistant Director of Teen Programs, to schedule an interview. Email at sean@tawonga.org or call 415.543.2267. Interviews are conducted virtually over Zoom and generally last 45 minutes to an hour.

Returning Applicants:

If you were accepted into a teen program for the 2020 summer and will be re-applying to the SAME program your application is still valid for the 2021 summer. If you are applying to a program for the first time please follow the instructions for new applicants. For example: if you applied for 2020 TLI and will be applying for the 2021 SCIT program you should re-apply an complete the full SCIT application.

Returning applicants must complete two steps to be considered for 2021 programs.

  1. Complete the Returning Applicant form.
  2. Contact Sean Keelan, Assistant Director of Teen Programs, to schedule an interview. Email sean@tawonga.org or call 415.543.2267. Interviews are conducted virtually over Zoom and generally last 20 to 30 minutes.

Application Period

Registration for our Specialist/Counselor In Training program is now full. If you would like to be placed on the waitlist for this program please email our Assistant Director of Teen Programs, Sean Keelan at sean@tawonga.org

Spotlight on ITs: On the Blog!

Check out this IT Spotlight blog post from our 2019 Summer!


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

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