Aug 7 2013
The counselors of Sewataro are a special lot, motivated and dedicated to camper fun and growth. Whether it’s taking a pie in the face, leading cheers, teaching the techniques of climbing the high ropes courses or any of our activities, performing in the counselor Talent Show, talking quietly to a camper who seems a bit down, or just acting silly, they commit at the beginning of summer to making the camp experience be all about the campers. We have 147 counselors on staff this summer, ranging from our apprentices to our most senior, Dan Nicholson, who has been Dan, Dan the Fisherman for 42 years at Sewataro. The average age of our staff is 24. 65 of them are either in college or graduating from college. Of those in the workaday world, most (39) are teachers at either the primary, middle, or secondary levels. How many of our current staff, you ask, were once campers at Sewataro. 45 is the answer.
Every new counselor we hire goes through an interview with Monica, confirmed by the impression the person made on Emmy, who usually greets them, chats briefly, and gives them information to read while they wait for Monica to begin the interview. Besides the required SORI and CORI checks, each prospective counselor provide three recommendations, a process made easier by the reference form CampMinder immediately sends to the recommenders. Monica relies, she says, on the general impression the applicant makes and on how convincing they are in expressing their reasons for wanting the position. Experience, especially experience at camp as either a camper or counselor (not necessarily at Sewataro) counts, as does the tenor and promptness of their recommendations. Monica puts together the information gathered from the application and interview with the letters of recommendation and weighs these in light of our particular needs and offers the candidate a position or not.
Obviously with such a large staff, many of whom are in the transition years of college, a number of counselors move on to internships, travel, or other career related work after being with us for a couple of years. Considering this, our retention rate for staff is exceedingly good, about 75%, bolstered by a loyal contingent of teachers for whom this is the perfect summer job. Danny Richter, for example, teaches Social Studies at Chelmsford High School as well as coaching their indoor and outdoor track teams six days a week during the school year. From Bedford, Danny had been both a camper and a counselor at the Bedford Summer Adventure Program, where he got experience in Project Adventure. He says he would see the Sewataro buses go by the Bedford streets and decided to apply for a position here after talking to a former counselor who also taught at Chelmsford. Given his experience and his natural enthusiasm, Danny was an instant hire for us last year as we initiated our zipline and outdoor adventure program. After camp Danny and his wife, Lauren, are flying to London and Paris for a week, an experience he will use to good effect in his Social Studies courses this fall.
Another high school teacher, Matt Wentworth, is enjoying his first summer at Sewataro as our head Boating Counselor. Matt has been teaching English at Lincoln-Sudbury High for the last four years. All 9th grade English classes there are writing intensive, but subsequent English classes are subject specific and the grades are mixed. Matt’s specialties are Early British Fiction, Novels in Translation, and Biblical & Classical Lit. Matt had been a counselor at a couple of other camps and he had done a lot of camping and canoeing with his family. He brings his skills as a teacher to the activity with the goal of introducing one new boating skill for each tribe and then integrating that skill in a game or challenge that the campers love to do. Needless to say, Boating has been a huge success this year with the campers both learning and having fun.
Izzy Pereira, Head Counselor of the Dakota tribe, is also a teacher during the year, at the Wellington PTO Student Care, a non-profit offering morning and afternoon care for students at the Wellington Elementary School in Belmont. Izzy joined us this year after hearing about us from one of her co-teachers there, Nicole Rodriquez, who has been a counselor here for six years. With her father a native Brazilian and her mother living there many years, Izzy brings an international flair to camp. In fact, she put her admittedly rudimentary Portuguese to good effect during our first session when a girl visiting from Brazil who spoke no English just happened to be assigned to her tribe. Izzy’s kind and patient ways have been a joy to behold as she leads her Dakotas in their activities. As for the future, Izzy knows she wants to get an M.A. degree in education, for she would like to teach inner city kids, having gotten a taste of the difference she can make in their lives from tutoring high school inner city kids to prepare for the SATs in the Let’s Get Ready volunteer program.
Not all of our counselors are out of school. Jillian Turner is a Math major at Tufts, where she is also on the Tufts dance team that specializes in Contemporary and Hip-Hop. From Hudson, Jillian heard about us from her lifelong good friend, Katie Percuoco, who has been a tribe counselor here for the last three years. Jillian loves to dance and teach dance, so she has immensely enjoyed coaching the Fox tribes in their moving-to-music fun. You should see the Iroquois dancing the limbo or the Yakima strutting across poly spots as if they were a bridge to a Latin beat. Jillian has also coached some of the older tribes in their dance skits on the camp stage like the Chinooks’ performance of Flash Mob. Although Jillian wants the teaching of dance to remain part of her life after school, she is practical enough to think she may follow her father’s accounting footsteps, perhaps doing actuarial work.
Christine McEachern is a senior at Skidmore, double majoring in Psychology and Business. From Lincoln and a camper at Sewataro in 1999 and 2000, Christine also brings a bit of international flavor to the staff as her mother is third-generation Chinese. Since high school at Lincoln-Sudbury, Christine has been a climbing enthusiast, so she was a natural fit for our SOAR program. In her second summer here, she brings the focus and self-discipline of a 2nd degree Karate Black Belt to everything she does. What Christine loves about Sewataro is the “almost magical sense of community,” and she loves seeing kids in our outdoor recreation program face and overcome their fears. In the mornings, Christine welcomes all the Sprouts children who arrive with their siblings by bus or car, creating a gentle waiting space before they join the other Sprouts.
Jackie Saideh headed to Penn St. after graduating from Concord-Carlisle High. Still undecided on a major but leaning toward Business, Jackie is captain of the ice hockey club team there and loves everything about the place. She worked with her mom at the Concord Childrens’ Center and heard about Sewataro because of the number of kids from there that go here. Jackie draws on her leadership ability and her extensive swimming background and WSI training to teach some of our most advanced swimmers junior life-guarding.
Obviously, we could go on because we are so proud of our staff. These are but a few examples. They are the lifeblood of Sewataro, and you should know that your children are in good hands.