Specialist and Counselor-In-Training

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.


June 9 – July 5, 2024
4 weeks


Rising 12th graders
(current 11th graders)

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

How To Apply

2024 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 until you go through the remaining steps.
  2. Complete the online SCIT Program Application. We will email all registered teens and their families at that time.
  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 you have applied for a Tawonga teen program in previous years.
  4. Sign up for an interview. We will send out the process in December. Interviews are conducted virtually over Zoom and generally last 45 minutes to an hour.

Application Period

Priority Registration for our 2024 Specialist/Counselor In Training program begins November 7, 2023. There are four parts to your registration and application.

  1. Register for the SCIT program*
  2. Complete the application
  3. Send reference link
  4. Schedule and complete program interview (in January)

*When you register for the SCIT program the system will automatically change your status to “waitlist”. All applicants are placed on a waitlist until we make final program decisions in early February.

Program Details

The SCIT program takes place during A Taste of Camp and Session 2, and is now four weeks long! The first part of the program focuses on training and group development for the teens. Guided by veteran Tawonga staff, teens learn the ins and outs of working at Camp as well as the overall philosophy staff bring to their work to create the Tawonga experience.

During the remaining three weeks of the program, 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 while being continually supported by our excellent 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) gain insights into the inner workings 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, waterfront and drama. 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 to support their success in all specialty areas during the first week of the program. After receiving training in all specialty areas, with support from our Teen Staff, SITs will choose a specialist department, and a unique schedule will be created for them. Every effort is made to accommodate SITs’ preferences, while allowing flexibility for them to apply their strengths 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 will become available in December, interviews will be held in January, and applicants will be notified of decisions in early February. Applicants will be notified by email.

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 welcome teens who are ready to transition out of their camper years and who are eager to 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

Spotlight on ITs: On the Blog!

Check out this IT Spotlight on our blog from a recent summer sharing the powerful impact the IT program has on teens.


Feel free to reach Assistant Director of Teen Programs and Specialty Areas, Brady Gill, with any questions at brady@tawonga.org or at 415.543.2267.


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