Frequently Asked Questions

What is Stanford Sierra Camp?
Stanford Sierra Camp is a family camp located on Fallen Leaf Lake near Desolation Wilderness in the Lake Tahoe Basin. During the summer, Stanford alumni and their families come up to Camp for one of 12 week-long sessions.  Camp is staffed primarily by 61 energetic and enthusiastic Stanford students. The camp program includes activities such as kids' groups (divided by age ranging from 3 to 18 years old), hiking, arts and crafts, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, tennis, volleyball, archery, naturalist walks and talks, improv, theater, faculty speakers, and so much more. In fact, if you have a great idea for a new program, we'd love to hear about it!

What is a family camp?
Stanford Sierra Camp is a family camp, which means that, unlike many summer camps, kids' counselors do not live in cabins with their campers. SSC staffers are responsible for the kids during structured kids' group hours, but the campers stay in cabins with their families at night. 

What is a typical work schedule?
Staffers are typically scheduled for a 48-hour workweek. Each staffer's schedule is the same from week to week. If you are a kids' counselor, 20-25 of your hours will be devoted to your kids' group. If you are an individual instructor (such as volleyball, crafts or hiking) 15-20 of your hours will be related to your program. Other duties include life guarding, meal shifts, working in the camp store, social hours for adults, story hours for kids, rowing, leading morning exercise, leading a talk/discussion on a topic of your interest, cleaning the lodge, and even more. Each week, all staff participate in Saturday morning cabin cleaning (approximately 5 hours of making beds, scrubbing bathtubs, vacuuming etc.), one all-staff meeting, and an introductory meeting for campers (each counselor group performs a skit for the guests). Each staffer gets one and a half days off per week.

What is the pay?
Compensation for the 12-week season, in addition to room and board, is approximately $7,000 after taxes, and is composed of a weekly salary plus tips from guests. 

Where would I live?
Summer staffers live in cabins shared with an average of 2-3 roommates. The close quarters are made up for by gorgeous views of the lake. Most cabins have been recently renovated. Some cabins have their own bathrooms and others have shared bathrooms nearby.

How's the food?
Camp has amazing food. The kitchen staff creates 3 gourmet meals a day. Meals are served buffet style and there are always plenty of different options for all dietary needs. Mealtimes offer an incredible opportunity for staffers to socialize with guests. Guests love getting to know staffers and staffers have the opportunity to make valuable alumni connections.

Would I have to work the whole summer?
Yes. When you accept a position as a summer staffer, you commit to the full summer which runs from June 12th to September 9th. Staff are expected and encouraged to stay at the end of the summer for kids camp, a weekend with students from East Palo Alto that runs September 7-9. Extenuating circumstances can be discussed as they arise.

What about staff training?
Staffers participate in two training sessions. The summer staff comes up to Camp for an orientation weekend from April 12-14th and receives additional training when they report to Camp in June. Ski Dock Instructors come up to Camp for an additional training weekend in the spring. In addition, all staffers are required to be CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguard certified. Camp will arrange and pay for a SSC Lifeguarding class during spring quarter for those not already certified.

What could I do on my days off?
Possible activities for days off are as limitless as your imagination and energy level. Books have been read. Sleep has been had. Sun has been soaked up on the boat dock. More energetically...hiking in Desolation Wilderness, biking, trips to town, Reno, the Bay Area, Yosemite, Disneyland, Shakespeare in Ashland, the Grand Canyon, rafting, spelunking, rock climbing, taking part in fellow staffers’ programming...and so much more. The possibilities are truly endless. Often, your day-off crew becomes a close-knit community within the larger Camp community.

Could my family and friends come visit me?
Yes. You are welcome to have visitors, but you must follow the Staff Guest Policy. Having personal guests at camp is a privilege and a responsibility. Having a guest cannot interfere with your work performance and your guests are expected to comply with the same code of conduct as summer staffers. Plan ahead, as each staffer gets 6 free staff guest nights and Camp can only host a maximum of 10 staff guests on a given night. Many people's families come up to visit during the summer. Since space at Camp is limited, most families stay nearby in one of the many rental houses or hotels in South Lake Tahoe. 

Could I stay connected to the outside world?
Yes. Wireless internet access is available throughout most of Camp. Cell phone service is limited, but there are multiple payphones and calling cards are sold in the Camp office.

How does the application process work?
All new applicant applications are due at the front desk of Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center or by email to on Friday, January 18th at 5:00pm.  You will receive an email inviting you to sign-up for an interview! All applicants are interviewed by two members of the Interview Committee. Roughly 80 first-round applicants are invited to go on to the second-round-interview pool, joining former staffers (usually around 25-30) who are reapplying. Final selections are made after the second-round interviews, which are conducted by Assistant Director Leanna Castro and Summer Staff Director Megan Calfas. Former staff and new applicants will be given equal consideration in the second round of interviews for the 61 available assignments. Decisions are made in early March and you will have until March 17th to accept or decline any offers. Applicants may also be placed on a wait list in case of any position openings.

Who is eligible to apply?
To be eligible to work at Sierra Camp, you must have attended Stanford for two of the previous three academic quarters. We are looking for students from ALL class years. International students without U.S. citizenship are welcome and encouraged to apply, too! If you have a special circumstance (i.e. year-off, etc.), you can contact Megan Calfas ( ) for more information on eligibility.

I applied last year and didn’t get hired. Should I even bother applying again?
Yes! So many successful summer staffers were not hired or were wait-listed the first time they applied.

What qualities do you look for in SSC staffers?
There is no "ideal" staffer; we have no mold to fit. We're looking for people of all ages, personalities, majors, racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, and nationalities. The unique contributions of each individual staffer make the magic of Sierra Camp, and cause each summer to be different from all before it. As long as you are hardworking, passionate, and excited to contribute, you can thrive at Camp.

What are the benefits of working at Stanford Sierra Camp?
The benefits of working at Camp are numerous: spending the summer in the beautiful Lake Tahoe Basin, making connections with successful Stanford alums in a variety of fields, leadership and customer service experience, making money and having virtually no living expenses, developing your own programs, possible internship credit for your major, working with kids, free waterskiing and wakeboarding, showcasing your talents and interests, making lifelong friends, the opportunity for transformative personal growth...It's an experience you'll never forget or regret and we hope you apply!