The Counselor-in-Training (CIT) Program is a co-ed, 2-week program for campers entering 10th-12th grades. It runs during our 2 week sessions: Session 3, 4, and 5, and offers a specialized program that seeks to develop leadership and interpersonal skills that are essential to working with children at summer camp. Not all CIT’s have their sights set on becoming Mountain Camp Counselors in the future, but we find that all CIT’s gain something valuable from the program.
The CIT program has a great balance of responsibility and fun, and is run by our four hand-picked CIT Coordinators. The program includes bonding exercises and team building activities that help the CIT’s learn to work collaboratively and set goals. As our oldest campers, the CIT’s become natural leaders at camp, who set the standards of silliness, enthusiasm, creativity, and fun.
The CIT’s have a few different activities that they plan and execute during the session. They run their own Evening Program and Campfire as well as the age-group dances. The Blazer Activity is something they create from scratch for our youngest campers, the Blazers, which usually entails an odyssey of activities all over camp brought together by a fun storyline.
The CIT’s are also assigned to help our Blazer cabins during certain times during the week. During these times, they get to work directly with the youngest campers, under the supervision of our counselors, as a way to help them practice the interpersonal skills needed to work with kids.
In addition to these extra responsibilities, the CIT’s also have a number of specialized trips during the session. They do two overnight backpacking trips as well as an all day River Rafting trip on the South Fork of the American River. Check out the latest video from the CIT Program, the Session 4 CIT overnight trip to Bassi Falls.
What a glorious day! The Mountain Camp Water Carnival happens during our two-week sessions (Sessions 3, 4, and 5), and occasionally on the Saturday between one-week sessions when we have enough campers. It is a mixture of creativity, competition, and all around silly fun.
We start by dividing the camp into 3 teams, each with a mixture of our 3 age groups, both boys and girls. Each team is assigned a color and then tasked with inventing a few chants to celebrate their hue. Everyone applies generous amounts of sunscreen before using body paint to creatively decorate themselves for the upcoming competition. Campers sign up for at least one of the events and counselors organize and energize their teams before heading down to the lake at 2pm.
What are these wacky events you ask? The Greased Watermelon Relay Race, Highest Aqua Launch, Sink the Canoe Competition, Tug o War, Synchronized Swim Performance, Sand Castle Contest, Best Belly Flop (while wearing a life jacket), The Peace Canoe Race, and Swampball (a combination of water polo and inner tube basketball, played while wearing a life jacket upside down like a diaper!).
When campers are not competing, they are cheering on their teammates or enjoying sliced watermelon. And at the end of day, win or lose, everyone gets a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie. Perfect!
Check out the Water Carnival edit from Session 3, Thanks Ian!
The Overnight is one of the highlights of our two-week program. Every camper in Sessions 3, 4 and 5 has the opportunity to go on an overnight, and we do our best to offer it to campers who combine 2 or more one-week sessions as well. The Overnight is most often divided by gender and age group, so that 2-4 cabins go at a time.
Cabins meet with our Overnights Specialist and 3rd year returning counselor, Rain, during rest time. She does an orientation that includes what to expect, what to pack, and any other important details, as well as an enthusiastic pep talk for anyone who is hesitant about their first time sleeping out under the stars. Cabins finish packing during Rest Time or Hang Time and then bring their backpacks down to the volleyball court before dinner.
Just after finishing dinner they grab their backpacks and head to the waterfront. Campers get a quick orientation in basic kayaking and then head across the lake to the overnight camping spot. They arrive with enough time for a swim before sunset and then spend the evening making S’mortillas (a Mountain Camp original invention!) and playing games before bed.
Sleeping on the beach of Ice House Lake yields nearly a 180 degree view of the night sky, and with the nearest big city about 75 miles away, the stars are far brighter than they appear in the Bay Area. The shooting stars can be so bright that they leave momentary trails of light behind, providing a sense of wonder and awe for campers and counselors alike.
Campers wake early the next morning, pack up and paddle back across the lake in time for a hot breakfast at camp. For many campers, this is the first time they’ve slept out under the stars, and it can be a truly memorable experience.
Below are images from a blazer boy overnight from Session 3!