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Staff FAQ

An EE instructor at the wetlands boardwalk with a student    A guide walks across a field with supplies    An EE instructor demonstrates a concept to a group of students

Thinking about applying to work with SAS? This FAQ covers many of the commonly asked questions about what working for us is like. If you still have questions that are not answered here, feel free to call or email us directly.

SAS Basics

Is SAS like a regular summer camp, just in the fall?

SAS is structured similarly to a summer camp, but our program goals are very different. SAS was created to give rural kids a leg up by showing them that science can be fun, while developing their social and emotional skills and helping them build a strong support network within their school right as they start 6th grade (age 10-12 to non-US folks). Most accurately, you could say that we are an outdoor middle school orientation program centered on STEM.

SAS is held at a Boy Scout camp. Will I be working for the Boy Scouts?

No, while SAS is the result of collaboration between the Boy Scouts of America and West Virginia University, it is operated by WVU with support from the Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR). Ultimately, you will be a WVU employee.

What are the other SAS locations? How does moving locations work?

Our training and the majority of SAS programming (about 9 weeks; 2 of training and 7 of programming) takes place at the SBR in Glen Jean, WV. When we wrap up at the Summit, our staff team will split with half going to Jackson’s Mill 4H Center and half going to the WVU Outdoor Education Center for another 4 weeks. Transition in the middle of the programming season may seem odd, but our overall goal is to reach as many WV students as possible. Due to issues of access in rural areas, many students can't get to our primary location, so we go to them. There will be a week of transition time built into the schedule to ensure everything is moved and set-up and staff have to acclimate and re-train as needed.

Where are the other SAS locations?

The SBR is just outside of Glen Jean, WV, in the southern-central part of the state. The other two locations are farther north with the WVU Outdoor Education Center near Bruceton Mills, WV and Jackson's Mill 4H camp near Weston, WV.

What sort of students do you work with?

We work primarily with 6th grade students from low-income, rural schools. These students come with their classes through school and are accompanied by teachers or other members of their schools' staff. We also occasionally work with homeschool and private school students too.

Positions and Hiring

What are the differences between the three positions?

  • Outdoor Education Guide – You will be paired with another guide and will be the primary facilitators of the SAS experience for a set group of students. You will be responsible for delivering team development activities, discussions, helping students work through challenges, and you will help them stay on track and get to their lessons on time.
  • STEM Instructor – You will teach morning and afternoon lessons focused on the science behind adventure activities, potentially including the science behind archery, paddling, zip lining, BMX biking and climbing. These lessons are grounded in disciplines including physics, mathematics, geology, anatomy, and other similar fields.
  • Environmental Education Instructor – You will teach morning and afternoon lessons focused on the natural world at our programming sites covering topics such as wetlands, phenology, wildlife, freshwater ecosystems and trees. These lessons are grounded in disciplines including biology, ecology, environmental science and other similar fields.

Can I cross-train and work in different positions?

Yes, while it is not guaranteed and we will primarily want you to work in the position you are hired for, there will be opportunities for you to train and work in other positions.

The job description mentions “other duties as assigned”. What does that mean?

For the most part, we will ask you to focus on the outlined duties in your job description, but sometimes extra help is needed with tasks around camp. This can be things like taking bagged garbage to dumpsters, spot cleaning a bathroom stall, or running a soiled sleeping bag to the laundry. We do our best to rotate these jobs so that no one feels like they are doing everything. You can also expect to see the SAS full time staff stepping in to assist with these tasks. We need everyone to work together and support each other, so that our season can be successful.

I don't have much experience in this industry? Do you hire people with my background?

Yes! SAS is a great place for those looking to break into the outdoor industry. We regularly hire people without much formal outdoor experience as we think that mindset and personality can be more important than experience.

What's the top trait you look for when hiring?

Flexibility; SAS is a fairly new program. In one aspect, this is great, because staff have the ability to make a lasting impression on what we do and how we do it. However, that also means that not much is set in stone yet and sometimes problems come up that we couldn't have foreseen that need to be solved on the fly. We are also still experimenting to figure out what works best for students, teachers, and staff. This means some part of the program could be different week to week. Staff who can adapt and give us good feedback and suggestions for improvement are a huge asset.

What is the guide to camper ratio?

Usually 1:7, but it could be up to 1:8. Two outdoor guides are assigned to each group of ~14 to 16 students. A teacher or staff member from the students’ school will also accompany the group through out the day. During lessons, there will also be an E-STEM instructor teaching the group.

Do you hire applicants from outside the US?

Yes, we are fully capable of hiring international applicants through WVU using the specialist category of a J1 visa. Please note that we are not able to extend a J1 visa unless you either a) already work at WVU or b) work at another university in a similar capacity as SAS. If you are an international applicant interested in working with SAS, please apply before the end of May as we will need some time to work through this process. At this time SAS is not able to assist in travel expenses to or from the US.

I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Is this an inclusive environment for me to be in?

Yes, SAS and WVU are inclusive. As we are a relatively new program, we are still learning how to best support our LGBTQ+ staff and students. That said, we welcome you into our community and are always happy to discuss accommodations you may need, as we work toward putting additional systems in place, so that you feel supported, secure and able to be your best while teaching and learning.

Does this position come with benefits?

As this is a seasonal position, we are not able to provide benefits outside of those stated in the job description. However, we will do our best to refer you to local resources as we can.

What is the staff culture like?

We will be spending a lot of time together, so a positive staff culture is important to us, and we want every member of staff to understand how much we appreciate them. We spend a lot of time, particularly early in training, focusing on everyone getting to know each other. Additionally, we view our staff as a team and value honesty and feedback at all levels. While every year and situation are different, many of our previous staff have formed close bonds with each other while working at SAS that last past the season.

Can I get school credit for working at SAS?

We aren’t able to give credit through WVU at the moment, though we hope to in the future. We’re happy to support you in independently coordinating that through your own college or university by validating internship hours, talking to advisors, etc.

Life at SAS

Will I be able to have my car at SAS?

Yes, when students are on-site, all cars will have a designated spot away from camp. During weekends, you can park your car closer to your tent. 

Will it be a problem if I don’t have a car?

No, provided you are able to get to us. Practically speaking, it's not necessary to have a car. There will be a lot of other staff with cars and in previous years it was easy for staff who didn't have one to get rides places. We will also have a program van that we can do an occasional grocery store trip in if it's needed. You'd likely have little less independence without a car, but it's entirely possible to do without one for SAS.

There's also an Amtrak train station nearby, so if you wanted to do a bit more independent exploring on the weekends, you'd have that as an option as well.

Can I bring my pet?

Unfortunately, we don't allow staff to have animals at SAS. We have a few reasons for that, but the main one is that it's for their own protection. The tents that staff stay in are small and aren't secure enough for animals. There's an extremely high chance of an animal escaping and getting lost in the surrounding forest or accidentally getting hit by the vehicles that are in and out of the property. You will not have time to care for an animal during the day. Additionally, many of our students are allergic to animals or have other animal related issues. This does not apply to service animals. Please include in your application if you need accommodations for a service animal.

Can I leave property during the week?

No, not while students are here. When participants are on-site, we’re all in, everyone is needed, and you won’t have time go anywhere. There’s a little more flexibility on Monday and Friday when students aren’t here, but you are still needed to help with program preparations or wrap up during most of the day. Expect to be on-site for three nights a week. You can spend the other four where you like. 

If you think you’ll need to leave camp during the season (ie. dentist appointment, family wedding, etc.) please talk to us about it and we’ll build that time off into your contract.

How much free time will we have during the week?

Not much, but your well-being is important to us and we plan to give you as much as we can while maintaining a quality experience for our students. Monday and Friday will have some potential for free time after prep and clean up duties are executed. Tuesday through Thursday are busy as this is when students are onsite. The weekends are all yours to enjoy.

Please know that daily schedules vary based on program needs, but here is a general idea about what an average weekly schedule looks like:

  • Monday – 9:00AM – 5:00PM – prep for the week, training, and professional development opportunities
  • Tuesday – 8:30AM – 10:00PM – report for final announcements, students arrive from 9:00AM – 10:00AM, spend the day doing group development with students which caps off with evening activities
  • Wednesday – 7:00AM – 10:00PM – Wake up is a 6:30AM with breakfast at 7:00AM, students spend the day in E-STEM classes, with evening activities before bed
  • Thursday – 7:00AM – 10:00PM - Wake up is a 6:30AM with breakfast at 7:00AM, students spend the day in E-STEM classes, with a closing campfire program before bed

  • Friday – 7:00AM – 5:00PM – Wake up as usual, students spend the morning completing a peak experience and processing their experience, after students leave, we clean up, call parents of students attending next week, and have wrap up meetings

Can I take time off?

Sure. We do need staff for the whole season, so we ask that you be reasonable with your requests, but a week off or a long weekend here or there is fine. Please let us know up front about the time you need, so we can include it in your contract from the beginning. It can be difficult to make contract adjustments later in our season.

Also, starting in 2022, all full-season staff will take a week-off during the season. It will likely occur around the midpoint of the season, about the 5th or 6th week. Short-season staff will not take a week off, but can request to take days off as needed.

What’s the rationale behind the mandatory week off?

Working for SAS can be tiring, particularly if this is your first time working in a residential outdoor setting. We feel that staff have a better season and are less likely to feel burnt-out when they take a break, so we have built in two weeks at lower student capacity to account for a staff rest week. While this is an un-paid rest week, you will still receive room and board and are welcome to continue to stay on-site.

What if I can’t make it to the whole training?

The full two weeks of training is important, not only for making sure that all SAS staff know and feel good about their assignments, but also for building a strong staff community. You should plan to attend all of training. That said, in some circumstances, we have some flexibility in allowing a day or two to be missed. Please talk to us about this in your hiring interview.

Can you explain the pay scale and compensation?

Our pay range goes from $100 - $160 per day. The lower end of the scale is for people who have limited professional experience working in experiential education while the higher end is for outdoor professionals with significant experience. We have two weeks of training where you will be paid 75% of your daily rate. As an example, if your pay rate is $100 per day, you will receive $75 for each day of training.

You are also provided with housing, wifi, and meals during work days.

Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?

Yes, we can accommodate for most diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and dairy free and most common allergies such as nut and egg allergies. If you do have a dietary restriction, please let us know early so that we make sure we know the extent that we can accommodate it and so the cook knows what is needed. We work with WVU's ADA office to provide reasonable accommodations for dietary restrictions, but we can't always provide food according to everyone's personal special diets or preferences. In the event that we cannot completely accommodate you, we will make sure that you have a place to store any dietary supplements you may need to acquire for yourself.

What is tenting like? Do we have to camp with other people, or will we have our own tent? Do we get to choose who we tent with?

You will share your tent with one other person of the same gender. During our two-week training period, we have extra tents, so everyone gets their own. By the end of the training period, you will have had time to get to know other staff and choose your own tent mate for the season. You may also swap tent mates during the season, provided all parties are agreeable.

Our other locations operate with either cabins or yurts, so you will be sharing a larger space with a few more people, but still of your choice.

Where are staff tents in relation to student tents?

Staff tents are in close proximity to student tents. Keep in mind that our students are generally 10-12 years old, and this is often their first time away from home. We want them to be able to find a member of staff quickly in the event of an emergency. To help mitigate noise after hours, we have “bedtime patrol” provided by full time members of staff who stay up an hour or two after bedtime to handle students who are having trouble settling down.A member of full time staff will also provide a 6:30AM wake-up for the whole camp.

Can I bring my camper/outdoor van/tiny house/or similar to sleep in instead of sleeping in a tent?

No, not during programming. SAS is often students’ first introduction to the outdoors. Having staff sleep in the same kind of tent as students normalizes the experience for them. However, you are welcome to sleep in your vehicle when students aren’t around (Friday night through Monday night).

Can my partner and I camp together?

Depends, the protocol at the SBR is that married couples can tent/lodge together. Otherwise, you’ll need to lodge separately. Depending on the site, our other locations allow for mixed gender lodging, though more than two people will occupy a cabin or yurt.

Can I do laundry there?

The SBR has a laundry facility on-site that you are able to use free of charge. There are not laundry facilities at our other locations, but there are laundromats in the nearby communities that you can use during your free time.

Will I have internet access and cell service? What is your staff cell phone policy?

The SBR is fully wired for wifi and you will be able to connect to the internet from anywhere onsite. Our other locations are not as fully wired, but there will be places at each site where you can go to connect.

Cell phones are allowed for staff while at work as we will use them to communicate and provide program updates to you throughout the day. We ask that staff limit their use of cell phones for personal business while working.

Can I bring my laptop, gaming console, radio, TV, or other expensive item?

Yes, feel free to bring those sorts of items including outdoor gear (bikes and boats included). That said, we are not currently able to offer secure storage space for staff to use. If you are worried about security for your items, plan to keep them in your car or purchase a storage bin with a lock.

What about electronic use? Are there restrictions there?

Other than phones, electronics likes laptops, gaming consoles, etc. are not allowed to be noticeable while students are on-site. We want students to really feel like they are camping. The only exception is if you are using a computer to complete SAS approved work. Each pair of guides will also receive a Bluetooth speaker that they can use to play music while they are with their groups.

What kind of uniform is required? Will that be provided or do I need to bring my own gear?

We will give you two staff shirts to wear on student arrival and departure days. Otherwise, wear clothes that will keep you comfortable working long days outside in all kinds of weather that are kid appropriate (ie. no t-shirts with profanity, etc.). Clothing with references to STEM or the outdoors are always encouraged. We reserve the right to veto any clothing if we feel like it’s inappropriate or a little too near the edge.

What is your body modification policy?

It's fine. Several of our full-time staff have tattoos. Keep in mind the same guidance as the uniform question. If you have a tattoo or piercing that is not appropriate for kids or is borderline, it needs to be covered, removed, or replaced as makes sense. Feel free to run things by us in your interview if you aren’t sure.

Is there somewhere for staff to get away?

We don’t have a designated staff hang out spot. That said, the SBR is a huge piece of property and there are plenty of places for you to find some peace and quiet when you aren’t working.

Post Hiring

What type of pre-camp training is required?

Very little. We have online units related to child protection that you will need to complete before arriving. Additionally, if you do not have CPR/AED/First Aid training from one of our accepted organizations, you will receive this certification during training and will need to do online pre-work.

What are the accepted CPR/AED/First Aid organizations?

American Red Cross, American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI) and American Heart Association.

What happens when I get hired?

As mentioned above, there are a variety of tasks we need you to complete before staff training starts. The university on-boarding process also has a number of associated tasks. It can take a while, so you will be paid for your work, provided that you turn everything in before training starts. You will hear from us sporadically through the spring and early summer. Once we hit June/July, you’ll start to receive more regular updates and arrival instructions and we will host a few online meet-and-greets. You are always welcome to reach out with any questions that come up at the beginning of training nears.

How soon will I get paid? What is the pay schedule?

WVU pay is biweekly and pays according to WVU’s pay schedule. This means that you will not be paid immediately after you start working, which may feel odd if you haven’t worked this kind of schedule before. For example, if you were to start working on August 14th, the pay period would end on August 27th, but you would not be paid for that time until September 9th.

You can find the pay schedule with dates here: https://payroll.wvu.edu/pay-schedules

What things are there to do in the area?

All of our locations are centered in small rural communities, but there is a plethora of outdoor opportunities (climbing, bouldering, hike, backpacking, paddling, rafting, etc.) in each area as well as coffee shops, bars, and local restaurants and stores. If you are hired, we will give you access to a folder that has a list of what you can do on the weekends. If you want to do some research ahead of time, look up activities associated with “Fayetteville, WV”, which will give you an idea about the area surrounding where we will be for most of the SAS season.

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