Do I need experience working with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Absolutely not! While having prior experience is great, we are looking for staff members who demonstrate a willingness to learn and do the job well. We can, and will, teach you everything else you need to know.
What about training?
We will conduct a weeklong training session for all new staff prior to the start of our summer camp. This training will include seminars on ASD and our approaches to supporting those who are affected, as well as opportunities to observe and interact with individuals with autism each day. These individuals will be paired with a trainer who will model and teach proper methods for interacting with them. We can’t teach you everything in a week, but it is our hope that our training will give you the tools and resources you need to be successful as a counselor. For our year-round programs, the training is a combination of shadowing, hands-on training, and autism-specific lectures.
Who attends Camp Royall programs?
All of our campers are from the state of North Carolina and have a diagnosis of ASD or a related communication disorder. Campers range in age from four years old to adult, and each week of summer camp is designated for a particular age group. We can handle a wide range of levels of ability as well. Some of our campers are very self-sufficient and will need only guidance from you, while others will need complete assistance throughout the day.
Who works at Camp Royall?
Our staff is typically composed of college students from all over the country and at times, even from other countries! Most of our staff members are pursuing a degree in education or psychology, but many are majoring in fields not related to ASD. We run criminal background checks on all staff.
Can I get college credit?
YES! Many of our staff members have received college credit for their time at camp. You will need to contact your school first to see whether this is a possibility and then contact the program director to review your school’s requirements and to make sure the site can accommodate your needs.
Where is Camp Royall?
Camp Royall is located in Moncure, NC, about 30 minutes south of Chapel Hill.
How do I apply?
We are hiring for camp positions on a rolling basis year round. To apply for an open position, please click here. Upon receipt of your application, we will contact you to complete references. If you are chosen for an interview, we prefer to have you visit camp so that you can see where you potentially would be living and working. If you do not have transportation and are applying for a summer position, we can arrange to do the interview on campus or via Skype. We hire on a rolling basis, but we try to let you know within a couple of weeks whether you will be hired. If you are invited to work at camp, a criminal background check must be cleared before we can officially offer you a position.
Will I have any time off? (This applies to Summer Camp positions only.)
Overnight Camp: Camp can be exhausting, so we realize you need time off. All overnight camp staff are off-duty from about 4 p.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Sunday. You will also get about 1.5 hours of break time in the middle of each day and time off at night. If you are in a night duty position for the week, then your break time will flip flop: you will work all night and have break time during the day. In addition, all staff members who have committed to working a full summer are allowed one week off during the summer.
Day Camp: Day Camp counselors work from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day, starting a little earlier Monday mornings for a staff meeting. Day Camp counselors receive a 30-minute break in the middle of each day. Unlike overnight camp staff, day camp staff may not be granted a week off during the summer.
What should I expect at camp?
Persons with ASD vary greatly in abilities and behaviors. While a small percentage of these individuals can live relatively independently, the majority require almost constant supervision. That includes assistance with dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, etc. At times, counselors are surprised at how much assistance some of the campers may need. Prompts, reminders, structure, and the use of routine are typically sufficient for most campers to understand what to do. Campers are encouraged to be as independent as possible, and it is the role of the staff to assist them beyond that point as needed.
Behavior problems are also a part of ASD for many who are affected. Behaviors may seem inappropriate (e.g., asking repetitive questions, flapping ones’ hands, attempting to masturbate in public, etc.), disruptive (e.g., refusing an activity, yelling, throwing objects, damaging property, etc.), or even aggressive (hitting, kicking, biting, scratching, etc.). Staff members are trained in how to deal with the types of behaviors described above as well as other situations commonly encountered at camp. Most campers are not aggressive. These issues are being mentioned so you will be aware of some of the aspects of the job you may not have thought about. Please ask questions about these issues during your interview if you have any concerns.
Most counselors find the challenges of the job to be a great learning experience that facilitates wonderful personal growth. A number of staff will return each summer and many will go on to careers in autism or special education after their time at camp.
It is almost guaranteed that should you work at the ASNC Summer Camp Program, you will probably have a brief moment or two when you ask yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?” But you will have lots of support from others in your exact same position and from experienced staff members who can give you ideas, suggestions, and encouragement.
Your occasional frustrations and stress will be more than balanced by the gratitude of the campers and parents, your personal feelings of accomplishment, many fun memories, and lasting friendships with fellow staff members. We truly believe that the benefits of your job will far outweigh the challenges, and we look forward to giving you the opportunity to experience camp.