"This is a place where I can show up in the world without having to apologize for how I’m showing up."

Though summer may feel far away, we are deep into the hiring process for the Summer of 2024!  

Every year looks different when it comes to staff. For this coming summer, we are so happy to welcome back a large group of second-year returners.  

As someone who works for Ballibay full-time, I spend the majority of my year talking with camp families and hearing all about their camper’s excitement of returning in the summer.  

Now, on the other end of the gamut, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with staff who share that same excitement. I was fortunate enough to be able to reconnect with five of our second-year returners, Sophia, Sonny, Harley, Connor, and Millie about what draws them back to Ballibay and their hopes for this upcoming summer. 


Last summer, Sophia was a cabin counselor and filled our social media pages with wonderful pictures of our campers. She not only served as a primary contact for campers in the office, but was also a familiar presence across all program areas, capturing moments as she went about taking photos! This summer, Sophia will be heading into the role as Up-the-Hill Division Head, previously known as Girls’ Dean, and will continue being our social media counselor. When talking to Sophia about her returning to camp in this new position, she replies “I’m excited to see all the returning campers, as well as meeting all the new campers who are coming in. I think with this bigger role, I can develop new and different relationships with both new and returning campers as Division Head. I’m also just super excited to document the whole summer through social media as well because I loved that last summer too.” What makes you want to return to Ballibay? “Honestly, it’s an atmosphere unlike any other. The thing I love (about Ballibay) is that it stays so consistent. When I was a camper, it was a magical experience for me and a place where I felt really safe, welcomed, and love. Now as a counselor and growing into my new position, I still feel that exact same way. It’s (Ballibay) just a place that will always be filled with love.” Do you have any advice for first-year staff? “Put the kids first- always. I think sometimes everyone can get caught up in their own heads. But when you come to camp, the kids are the focal point and it’s their experience you are helping along. Be as loving and caring to them as you would hope someone would be to you.” 



Connor directed “Finding Nemo” last season and it was such a hit among our campers! This summer, we are excited for him to join our Division Head team as well as continuing being a theater director. I think we can all agree that Ballibay is such a unique place unlike any other, and Connor can definitely confirm this. “Honestly, I’m excited to just get back to camp and having the best summer. This previous summer was one of the best summers I’ve had in years. When I left camp last summer, I already started counting down the days when I would return- I still am! So, just being at camp is what I’m looking forward to the most,” Connor laughs. What makes you want to return to Ballibay? “I think there is something so special about being able to create art without the pressure of it needing to be perfect. I think as artists, we are our worst critics and we always want to do be good for everyone except for ourselves. At Ballibay, we can really let down those walls and make art just because we can.” What is something you wish you knew as a fist-year staff member? “One of the biggest lessons I learned from last summer was to stop stressing about things that really didn’t matter. At camp, there are little things that will stress you out. But you need to remind yourself that you are making art to simply make art. It’s just so nice to be in an environment where we can be our most authentic selves and really enjoy the community we have built at Ballibay.”  



Harley’s costume shop was a sanctuary of creativity, where campers made costumes and put together amazing looks for our performances. This summer, Harley will continue their work in the costume shop and we can’t wait to see what’s in store! What are you most looking forward to this summer? “I’m really excited to see the friends I made last summer. I made such a core group of friends there that I love so much. I’m also so excited to see all the kids again. Working with them is so great. I recently came out as non-binary and getting to work with a group of queer kids really helped me realize this about myself.” What makes you want to return to Ballibay? “This has been the most supportive space I have ever worked in. I’ve never been around such a large group of queer people, artists, neurodivergent people. It’s really comforting to me because I know that this is a place where I can show up in the world without having to apologize for how I’m showing up.” Do you have an advice for first-year staff? “Be the person to accept a kid on their own terms. Be able to understand that, while the campers may have different problems from adults, that doesn’t make their problems any less big or real to them. Remember that we make an impact on the kids so, even if you might not necessarily relate to the things they are struggling with, it’s still important to acknowledge those things and show up as a support system.” 


Sonny’s presence at camp was a highlight of last season! He was able to connect with so many kids across campus and led camper favorites, “Freaky Friday” and “A Gentle Giant”. We are so thrilled to welcome back Sonny as a Division Head and theater director once again! When talking to Sonny about his time at camp, he responses earnestly. “By the end of First Session last summer, I had such a strong connection with my cabin. I knew from that moment I wanted to come back to Ballibay to continue to make these connections. Some of my other friends who worked at different camps last summer didn't develop those bonds and didn’t have the true pleasure of working with kids that are as special, creative, and as fantastic as the kids we have at Ballibay. It’s propelled me to realize that working with kids is something I find most fulfilling in life.” What makes you want to return to Ballibay? “In my life, I’ve been to multiple stage schools and I’ve always been told that you create this ‘second family’ at these places but I’ve never really felt that. But going to Ballibay, especially towards the end of the summer, I really felt that family feeling. I created bonds with so many people throughout camp, whether that be counselors, admin, or campers, you really start to feel that family aspect. I’m just really excited to be reconnected with people that I consider to be my family and being able to just be present with those people.” Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself before your first summer with us? “Give yourself time and allow yourself to enjoy camp as if you were a camper. It sounds a bit ridiculous but the longer I was at Ballibay, it stopped feeling like work. Instead, it felt more like an experience. I just got the opportunity to really experience camp and be in awe of the work you see and how hard everyone worked at camp. I really think that you just need to fully commit to camp and let yourself open up.” 



Last summer, Millie led our campers in multiple fantastic shows including, Treasure Island, Toy Store, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and also headed our radio program! We are thrilled for Millie to return for another unforgettable summer. When talking to Millie about her camp experience, she opened up about her initial worries about working as a foreign staff member in a new environment. “It can be scary to just up and leave your home country for the summer and put your faith into a completely new workplace that you’ve never been in before. But Ballibay was so welcoming and I’m excited to go back to a place where I feel so at home and safe- even though it’s such a different environment for me,” Millie responds. What are you most excited for this upcoming season? “I’m excited to reunite with the kids and staff. It’ll also be really fun to meet the new campers as well. I’m also just really excited to direct more shows!” Any advice to incoming staff? “Go for it. Whatever thing is going on, like Staff Cabaret, go for it! I also feel like at the beginning of camp, I was isolating myself- especially with Sonny because we knew eachother in college before camp. I felt very reliant on them. But my advice is to just be friendly with everyone. It can feel overwhelming at first but just go for it!”  


These conversations have reminded me how life-changing Ballibay is. Our returning staff members share a common thread in their camp experiences- a deep sense of genuine community.  

Our returning staff are ready to inspire and be inspired, to challenge and be challenged, and most importantly, to create lasting memories and connections.  

If you or anyone you know is looking for summer employment and has brass, woodwind, strings, or photography experience, please feel free to reach out to me or Camp Director, Sarah Galante (sarah@ballibaycamps.com) with a resume or any questions!