The CIT Program

As one of the largest employers of young people on the East End of Long Island, Hayground Camp takes its responsibility to prepare its staff for the world of work extremely seriously. We design engaging and informative orientation sessions, ongoing staff development throughout the summer and a clear pathway for growth. For most of our staff, Hayground represents their first job. They learn about work ethic, motivation, purpose and responsibility as well as collaboration, self-awareness and collegiality.

Our campers range from the ages of 3-13 and our youngest staff members, the CITs, are 14 years old. We begin to the bridge process from camper to counselor as young as 12, when we find that the tween years are inspiring a desire to give back, to sink their teeth into authentic work that has an impact. Our internship program allows 12 and 13 year olds to connect with a mentor Head Counselor and work with kids in a safe environment with guidance and feedback. By the time our campers are ready to transition to be Counselors in Training, many have had two years of experience and have a real sense of where they would like to work and why. That provides for a smooth transition and a great staff member in the making.

We have an 86% retention rate amongst our staff year after year. Considering that many staff member do not have the option to come back once they have graduated from college and are pursuing jobs (unless they are teaching), that is an extraordinarily high rate of retention. That retention is what creates the foundation of our family here. That’s what sets the table for that moment when you return every year and recognize almost every staff member and feel incredibly comfortable leaving your children with people who have, in some cases, known them their whole lives. We attribute a great deal of our retention success to our transition work from camper to CIT and to our CIT program.

Every summer, we prioritize making space for our incoming class of 10-20 CITs even over profits. We hire more staff than we need because our hiring practices are not just about supervision of campers. They are also about supporting young people in the world of work.

Each CIT  is paired up with an appropriate Head Counselor mentor who checks in daily and attends a weekly meeting with our senior staff to ensure that they are having a positive experience and that they have a forum for discussing the challenges of their day to day. Each CIT is paid a stipend and is treated with the same respect that we treat our most senior staff members. We see them as our future leaders. And we invest in them so that they will be leaders that support the positive culture of Hayground Camp.