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.
Rain is OK
There are a few occasions where we see rain here on the mountain. This happens about 5 times a summer, often not lasting more than a day. Here is a rundown of what we do to make the best of the rain.
We have a removable tarp that covers our dining area. It takes about 20 minutes to set up and allows us to use the meal area even when it’s wet other places.
If it is just wet, we can run most of our activities. When the rain is coming down, our priority is to keep campers safe, warm, and dry. They spend time in their cabins, the lodge, or the dining area socializing, playing board games, or other inside activities organized by counselors.
Rarely does it rain a full day on the mountain. If it is raining during evening program, we typically hold three age group events under the dining area where it stays dry. This is usually a 35 minute song and skit session.
When the Rain Stops
The sky quickly clears and the sun pokes through the clouds. Just as quickly as it begins, it ends. Camp goes on.
Over half of our campers come to camp requesting to be in cabins with friends from home. We do our best to honor these requests as long as both campers have requested to be together. Campers that come to camp with existing friends have a great experience, however, camp is also a place where new lifelong friendships can be formed.
When are cabins actually together?
Campers in a cabin will eat meals together, travel together at evening program, and participate in after campfire activities as a group. We host a lot of campers, but the feel is still small. Campers choose all of their activities on their own. They participate in activities with kids of similar ages, but they are able to do activities with campers from other cabins.
Making new friends is easy
Kids are encouraged to venture out of their comfort zones in order to try new activities, and meet new people. Being comfortable around unfamiliar people is a valuable skill that we hope all campers can improve on each summer. Our counselors complete 7 days of training prior to camp starting. A significant portion of this time is devoted to helping them create inclusive cabin and activity environments. On the first night of camp, counselors hold cabin meetings, organize team building games, and ensure that everyone has time to positively connect.
Leaving the cabin friend requests behind
It might be nerve-racking to send a child to camp without the close support of friends from home. Meeting new friends is a part of the summer camp experience that translates into an important life skill. There isn’t a more supportive environment than camp for kids to form new relationships with peers.
Food in the Forest
We often get questions about the food at camp. It’s quite a challenging task to serve quality food to so many people three times a day. Our kitchen staff happily prepares over 1500 servings a day, and we’re not even counting dessert. These are the answers to our most common food questions.
1. Where does the food come from?
We have a food service supplier based in Sacramento that comes to camp two times a week for deliveries. Our food service director also purchases fresh fruit from once a week from a fruit stand off highway 80.
2. What if someone has a special diet or allergy?
We accommodate many speciality diets including those eating vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. Our meals are peanut free, except for the peanut butter and jelly which is located away from the main eating area.
3. Do they serve vegetables up there?
Of course. In addition to the healthy sides at dinner, there is a fully stocked salad bar in our lodge complete with fresh-cut avocados, bell peppers, side salads, spinach, lettuce and more. Campers can create their own salads at lunch and dinner.
4. What about fruit?
Fresh fruit is available throughout the day and campers are welcome to grab apples, watermelon, plums, or whatever else is available whenever they want. We also serve fresh blueberries, strawberries, and granola every breakfast.
5. My kid is a picky eater, what if they don’t like the meal?
Peanut Butter and Jelly, Peanut Butter, and Just Jelly sandwiches are always available for campers. Our counselors certainly encourage kids to try things and eat our main entrée, but when all else fails, the PB&J can save the day.
6. What are some of the meals?
Some examples of each meal include…
Breakfast – Eggs, sausage, hash brown, granola, greek yogurt, cereal, blueberry scones
Lunch – Hot dogs, veggie wraps, chili, grilled cheese, hamburgers, chicken fingers
Dinner – Pulled pork, grilled chicken sandwiches, turkey burgers, tacos, enchiladas
Camper Age Groups
Mountain Camp has programs for campers entering 2nd grade through their senior year of high school. We manage this wide age range by dividing the camp into thirds for each session. The oldest third are called Alpiners, the middle third are Trackers, and the youngest third are known as the Blazers. These groups can vary from session to session depending on the overall distribution of ages during a given week. We try not to define any specific age to a group because a camper might be a Blazer in a session of mostly older campers, but a Tracker in a session of mostly younger campers.
The youngest kids in camp sometimes require a little bit of extra support, and for many of them, this is their first experience away from home. Our counselors have specific training to make sure that Blazers have a successful camp experience. This includes helping Blazers navigate the large camp environment, stay clean, manage homesickness, and stay involved. Mountain Camp also designates two male and female staff members as Blazer coordinators. These coordinators actually travel with the Blazer group to all activities to ensure that these young campers are signing up for their preferred activities, and generally having a good time.
The Youngest Campers
We allow the youngest campers to pick their own activities. Even though the day is structured, there is an element of choice and flexibility that allows all campers to get involved in the activities they prefer. From archery to wake boarding, we have equipment that fits campers of all sizes. No matter the age or size, Mountain Camp is set up for everyone to have an amazing experience.
It doesn’t need to be your first summer to benefit from these valuable tips on having the best experience at camp. Now is the time to start planning for the summer, there is so much to do at Mountain Camp, so read on to get ready before you reach the mountain.
1. Make New Friends
Even if you have lots of friends at home and school, this is your chance to step outside your social circle and meet someone new. You never know, your new best friend might be just a cabin away.
2. Take Care of Yourself
Water, water, drink more water…did we mention the water? Camp is nearly a mile above sea level. The air is dry and the dust is dusty, hydrate and shower frequently so you can stay active trying new things. Don’t forget that chapstick!
3. Sail Something
It’s a blast tubing and water-skiing, but our staff can also provide excellent instruction on windsurfers and sailboats. Sailors that demonstrate proficiency can have opportunities to safely take boats out on their own.
4. Sleep Out Under the Stars
The stars up here are the real deal. You’re almost guaranteed to see shooting stars or the milky way. Many cabins have decks so campers can sleep outside every night. There aren’t many bugs at night so you won’t need a tent.
5. Try Fencing
That’s right, FENCING! This is one of those activities that you might never have a chance to experience in everyday life. Yes, that is a partially dressed pirate in the background, and he might want to battle.
6. Be in the Moment
Life outside of camp can be pretty hectic. Soak up the opportunity to unplug your devices and live in one of the most beautiful settings on earth, sing songs, eat s’mores, and stare at the campfire.
7. Get Launched
Summer wouldn’t be complete without some serious air time above the swim area on our Aqua Launch. Extra points for style.
It’s your summer, make the most of it!