Specialist and Counselor-In-Training

Tawonga’s Specialist & Counselor-In-Training Program: Three weeks of leadership development, direct work with kids and team bonding for rising 12th graders

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, we have determined that it is not yet safe to re-open our site for programs from July through October. The known and unknown risks of transmission conflict with Tawonga’s fundamental commitment to the health and safety of our families. We will reopen as soon as we are ready to do so.

To read more about our response to COVID-19, click here. You are also invited to join our virtual summer programming, “Tawonga at Home” for all ages!


Three Weeks: June 14 – July 3, 2020


Rising 12th graders (current 11th graders)

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’s also a good first step to one day becoming part of the highly 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 Snapshot

The SCIT program takes place during the first three weeks of the summer, coinciding with both the “A 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 receive supervision, evaluation and coaching from veteran 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.


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.

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.

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, 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.

Counselors in training with campers smiling

How To Apply

The application process includes four steps:

  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 Specialist & Counselor in Training Application and indicate this program as your first choice.
  3. Copy and paste this link and send it to your reference for them to submit electronically. Your reference can be a supervisor, coach, teacher, youth group advisor or anyone else who has seen you in a professional or leadership context. Please note that your reference must come from outside of the Camp Tawonga community i.e. NOT your most recent Tawonga counselor.
  4. Call our Director of Teen Programs, Sean at 415.543.2267 to schedule an interview. Interviews are conducted in person or over Google hangouts and generally last 45 minutes to an hour.

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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