Staff Info

We were so impressed by the counselors!

– SLC Parent

Staff Information

The same online CampinTouch portal you used for your application is where, once hired, you will need to return to complete the necessary staff forms, such as medical information, I-9, and W4.

Helpful Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Surprise Lake Camp such a great place for staff?

Although Surprise Lake Camp is a big place with over 475 campers and 270 staff, it still has a cozy feel to it. Nestled in the heart of the Hudson Highlands sixty miles from New York City (we are only 15 minutes from a 75 minute train ride into NYC!), we are surrounded by rugged mountains, wide open fields, and our own private lake. If you enjoy hiking, sunsets, or seeing wildlife, you’ll love Surprise Lake Camp.

Where will I live?

Campers and staff live in small rustic cabins that are spread throughout our large, picturesque site, each in their own scenic forest setting. You may share a staff-only cabin, share a staff room in a camper cabin or live in an open room shared with children. In most cases, bathrooms and showers are a few steps away from our cabins.

Who are the staff and where do they come from?

Most are returning staff who cannot seem to get enough of Surprise Lake Camp. They are a valuable resource for the new staff members we hire every year. Our staff is diverse, drawn from across the United States and from abroad. You’ll work with some really great people with a wide range of interests.

How much time off will I get?

We provide more time off than most camps: one full day a week, some evenings off, and periods off during the day. We think it is very important to take care of you, so that you can “recharge” and be at your best when you take care of the campers.

What can I do in my time off?

Time Off:

Many staff members choose to visit New York City on their days off. SLC does a “train run” to the Cold Spring Metro North Train Station twice a day. You will call or stop by the main office to add your name to the “train run” list. Many people take the train leaving Cold Spring at approximately 7:15 am. We pick up from the Cold Spring Station at approximately 9:15 pm. We will have the exact train schedule once the summer schedule is released.
If you are on a day off and you are sleeping in camp, you must be in camp and back in your bunk at 12:30 am.

Relax in camp: Enjoy the Staff Activity Center and its recreational facilities, movie room, internet access, and refreshments. We also host frequent evening staff programs like barbecues, tournaments, crafts nights, and DJ parties.

What do you expect from staff?

Being a staff member at Surprise Lake Camp is a big commitment. We expect our staff to give their all to make every camper’s experience as positive as it can be. We ask staff members to dedicate themselves to our Staff Standard of Excellence. The Staff Standard of Excellence is woven into the fabric of everything we do at Surprise Lake Camp. It is the code of principles by which we live.

Every job at Surprise Lake is demanding. The counselors and specialists live, eat, sleep, and play with kids all day long for eight full weeks. The support staff help make the daily camp operation run smoothly. Everyone is expected to work hard, have a good attitude, and like and value children.

We believe that the single most important ingredient at camp is the staff. And since we want the very best for our kids, we expect the very best from our staff.

How do I know what my job entails?

Your success is our success. To help our staff do the best job possible, Surprise Lake Camp provides a job description to every staff member. Our counselors receive a staff routines manual and our kitchen and office staff also receive staff manuals. These manuals are provided when you come to camp, used throughout our eight day orientation, and referred to for the rest of the season.

How do I prepare?

Required for all staff, training takes place prior to the opening of camp via zoom and in person. You’ll become immersed in our camp philosophy, and you’ll explore the routines, goals, and methodology for working with each age group. This is a hands-on experience to learn about building relationships, establishing mutual confidence and support, and practicing particular skills.

Many new counselors also have the opportunity to attend our First Aid & CPR course just prior to orientation. The course would ordinarily cost you $200, but we offer it to our staff at no additional charge. It teaches valuable, potentially life-saving skills that will benefit you the rest of your life.

How much will I earn as a counselor?

Summer 2024 base salaries for bunk counselors are as follows:

High School$1,650 (Plus $50 for prior SLC Counselor Aides)
1 year of college$2,750
2 years of college$3,150
3 years of college$3,300
4 years of college$3,450

Your salary may be higher than these amounts if you have prior counselor experience, have relevant certifications, or have taken part in certain approved Jewish educational experiences, (separate application required for this last item). In addition, there are many opportunities to earn extra money at camp.

Please note that Surprise Lake Camp has a no-tipping policy, which is considered best practice by the American Camp Association because it ensures fairness for campers and staff. Instead, we encourage parents to recognize staff members by making a contribution to our scholarship fund in honor of those individuals.