Camp Danbee – An Overview
Camp Danbee is a seven-week summer camp for girls, located in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. We have a 1:3 counselor/camper ratio. Many of our staff are bunk staff who live in cabins with the campers and also teach classes in one or two specific program areas. There are many non-bunk staff positions available at camp, such as administrators and program directors, a medical staff consisting of five nurses and a doctor, office staff, dining hall staff and support staff. The overall camp program is designed for instruction in numerous activity areas from athletics, such as tennis, soccer, softball, and basketball, to aquatics, fine arts, rocketry, nature, cooking and woodcraft.
Our staff members come from all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Each staff member has completed at least one year of college and many are studying some form of an education or recreation related program in school, however this is by no means a requisite for employment.
Staff members arrive at camp in June a week before the campers for our staff orientation. There is a six-day orientation program where staff learn the “ins and outs” of Danbee. During this time, bunk-staff are placed in the age group and cabin unit where they will live during the summer, while non-bunk staff move into their cabins. Each staff member is given the tools and ideas they will need for their specific dealings with camper issues during the summer.
All of our counselors live with a group of children during the summer. A typical cabin set up at Danbee has 8-10 girls (depending on age) living with 2-3 staff members. The cabins typically have single beds for the campers and bunk beds for the staff. The cabins have bathrooms and showers. Staff are living in the same room as a group of campers during the summer so privacy is at a minimum.
Most staff members at Danbee have a dual role job. Staff members are counselors living in cabins with the girls and then also specialists teaching in one or more of our activity areas. Staff members are working with two distinct supervisors, the Head Counselor, who oversees all aspects of a particular age group, and the Program Head or Athletic Director who oversees the activity area in which a staff member is teaching. Our Head Counselors and Program Heads are teachers and coaches with tremendous experience working with kids. They provide staff with a wonderful set of resources for dealing with problems.
A typical day for a counselor begins with wake up at approximately 8:00am. Counselors assist the campers in cleaning the cabin before breakfast. After breakfast, there are two activity periods in the morning followed by Fun & Fitness and then lunch. The afternoon consists of a rest hour followed by three activity periods. Following dinner, there is an evening activity, which typically ends around 8:15pm for younger campers and 8:45 for older campers. Lights out for campers is anywhere from 9pm until 10:30pm depending on age. After lights out, staff members are “on duty” 1 night per week and are off duty the other nights. When off duty, staff members have a 1am curfew. Staff who are “on duty” are assigned a cabin or cabins where they remain until the staff members living in the cabins return from their night off.
Counselors have one day off per week for the middle five weeks of the summer. These days off begin at 8:45am and end with a 1am curfew. We give one period off during the day, but due to the complexity of our program, this is not always guaranteed. When it rains at camp all staff are to be with their campers and periods off will be assigned if possible.
Staff members can use certain camp facilities during time off, as long as the use of the facilities does not interfere with camper programs and as long as the director of the area gives approval. Staff cannot, unfortunately, water-ski or use powered watercraft during the summer due to safety concerns.
Our campers come from a relatively homogeneous population. Over 300 of them come from the NY/NJ metropolitan area. Others travel to camp from Florida, California and even from as far away as the Dominican Republic. Many of our campers are of the Jewish faith although the camp has no religious affiliation. Campers come from typically upper income families who are looking for a safe place for their daughter(s) to grow and learn, both as individuals and with program skill development, during the summer. Danbee provides them with a warm, nurturing environment that has a truly professional instructional program.
The camp is located in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, in the western part of the state. We are approximately a 3-hour drive to both NY city and Boston. Other nearby attractions include the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA (1 ½ hours away), Tanglewood (The Boston Symphony’s summer home) and other cultural museums that make the Berkshires popular. The camp is only 20 minutes from downtown Pittsfield and within 20 minutes of camp are shopping malls, restaurants and other camps (including Camp Winadu and Mah-Kee-Nac, our brother camps). Staff have an opportunity to visit these places on one of 5 days off (one each during the middle 5 weeks of the summer). Local rental car companies offer discounts to staff members and by carpooling; staff can inexpensively enjoy all that our area has to offer.
Staff members work each day in neat attire that is appropriate to the activity in which you are working. The days can be warm and the evenings cool. Shorts and tee shirts are most often worn during the day but sweats may be worn some evenings (especially in mid August). Staff are given 3 staff shirts that are worn on weekends or when chaperoning campers on trips out of camp. Our camp laundry is available for staff to use free of charge at night once you are off duty.
Staff members must come to Danbee with a true love of children, a great patience level and a solid work ethic. Working with kids is one of the greatest experiences in the world that comes with tremendous rewards. However, working with kids can also bring stress and frustration at times. Staff members must understand that kids don’t always say what they mean and often ask “why” instead of saying “yes.” As a summer surrogate parent, kids often show their frustrations with you, the staff member, the same way they would their own mom and dad. Working at Danbee gives staff members a sense of great satisfaction from helping kids grow that comes only with a lot of hard work.