December 30, 2016 @ 7:26 am – December 31, 2020 @ 8:26 am

Day Camp CIT Program – NEW!

COVID UPDATE! Due to overnight camps being cancelled, we have now shifted our CIT program to Day Camps. Preferred application deadline is July 1!


The Living Earth Summer Counselor In Training Program is a transformative leadership-learning opportunity for veteran campers who love LES programs. 

After years of creating a thriving residential Counselor In Training program for our overnight camps, we are finally offering something we have wanted to for a long time: a Day Camp Counselor in Training program! Being a Day Camp CIT is a great chance for teens to be immersed in our Coyote Mentoring culture. From the planning meeting at the beginning of the day to the debrief at the end, you’ll learn the “behind the scenes” of nature mentoring.

Requirements: Per CDC recommendations, we are only accepting folks from the Thomas Jefferson Health District (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Nelson, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa Counties) plus the Staunton area, to apply to CIT day camps. CITs must be 14 or older and have attended at least 1 specialty LES day camp with a preference of at least 1 LES overnight camp. CITs must have a passion for learning to mentor kids.

One to two CITs will be placed in a small group with two Instructors and up to twelve campers. The CITs main role is to learn and be of service by:

  • Observing instructors’ styles of mentoring, behavior management and tending to camper well-being.
  • Noticing and supporting campers’ emotional well-being: Who is left out? Who looks like they had a rough morning? And how can I support that camper?
  • Noticing and supporting campers’ physical well-being: Who doesn’t have their water bottle? Who looks dehydrated or sunburned? Who needs help learning to keep track of their belongings? Who has a ton of energy and needs to go on a mission? Who is getting a blister and needs tending to?
  • Asking your instructor, “How can I help?” (these words literally melt instructors’ hearts!)
  • Willingness to be sent on a mission elsewhere in camp: To support another group who has an absent instructor; to help the Camp Coordinator with a task; to walk an injured camper to get support.
  • Observing the “behind the scenes” of coyote mentoring by participating in staff meetings before and after camp.

Your lead instructor will check in with you periodically throughout the week to see what your goals, challenges and learnings are.

Logistics: In general, the camp day runs from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, with campers present from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Camp will run in two locations in Summer 2020: North Branch School in Afton, and Montfair Resort Farm in Crozet. The cost is $200 for the week. A reminder that this is a day camp opportunity–there is no housing or overnight accommodations for teens.

Application and Registration: This is an application based program, since there are limited spots and we want to make sure teens are ready to learn and be helpful. Preference will be given to applications received by July 1, and spots will likely fill, though applications are accepted throughout the month of July. Please click on the application button below to fill out the application. We hope to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship of mentoring and service with your teen this summer!


Email Soupy at erin@livingearthva.com with any questions.

Overnight Camp CIT Program – Cancelled summer 2020; will resume summer 2021.


The Living Earth Summer Counselor In Training Program is a transformative leadership-learning opportunity for veteran campers who love LES programs. 

campers_gourd_blanketThis intensive leadership training will give them not only the skills of a great camp counselor and leader, but it will also teach them life skills for other professional pursuits. They will learn the ins and outs of what it takes to be a nature based mentor and leader.

When a camper decides to become a CIT, they enter into the LES staff family in a different way, forming family-like bonds of trust and responsibility. We cultivate a heartfelt village-like model of learning that is based on integrity and open communication. In this supportive environment, they feel safe to push their edges and reach for their greater potential. We are here to support that journey.

Living Earth is unique from other camps in that we focus on deep nature connection, mentoring, and earth skills. We have a commitment to high quality programs that help individuals rise up to be leaders with a strong connection to their place, their community and themselves.

Ask any instructor, ask the kitchen staff, ask the campers–the CITs are an essential component of our village ecology! They work together as a unit, under the mentorship of veteran staff, and are given responsibilities that are essential to the camp culture.

teacher_teen_boy_dry_meatCIT Leadership Training Areas:

  • Mentoring: CITs are placed with a group of campers and three instructors. The instructors and the CIT Coordinator guide the CITs in seeing what individual kids need, what the group needs, and how to proactively help fill those needs. CITs who are up for the challenge are given the opportunity to lead a camp activity, game or craft. They prepare, practice, lead and debrief, with staff supporting this whole process.
  • Personal Nature Skills and Passions: The CIT Coordinator spends several blocks of time throughout the week working with the CITs to deepen their own naturalist/survival skills through instruction, group challenges and goal setting.
  • Building Integrity and Teamwork Through Service: CITs are essential to many aspects of camp such as running kitchen cleanup, guiding campers through night-time challenges, and supervising campers in learning how to carve safely. CITs are truly “in service,” putting others before themselves. They have told us how powerful it was to pass on the joy that they received as campers.
  • Authentic Community: CITs often say they feel like they are able to be most true to themselves as CITs at LES. There is something about saying “yes!” to the challenge of stepping up in maturity, of being of service, and doing this with a group their age, that ties bonds of friendship tightly.
  • Goal Setting and Habit Formation: The CIT Coordinator will introduce CITs to the notion of how habits and goals underpin our lives, allowing us to set a north star and go for it!

teacher_arrowsWe will train them using a lot of the activities and experiences we use to train our best staff.  We will look at what makes a healthy camp culture where the kids feel safe to be themselves, and what supports people to come alive.  We will share the LES code of conduct that our staff live by.   We will talk about the benefits of how we carry ourselves in the world, and the ripple effect that has wherever we are.

Should My Teen Be a CIT, or Just Participate in a Teen Camp?

If your teen thinks they want to teach kids someday, if your teen loves learning about nature and experiencing it firsthand, and if your teen wants to step into the maturity of being others-centered and service-oriented, then this is the program for them!

Some teens aren’t interested in mentoring, or don’t yet want to take on that helper, service mentality, and that’s ok! If your teen just wants to learn more about nature and feel the good vibes of an LES teen community, we highly recommend one of our many teen camps and expeditions. Click here to check out our day camps, residential overnight camps and expeditions that are open to teens.

Cultivating Confident, Powerful Leaders

Deep down we know that teens want to contribute and be truly helpful. Though we hold a high bar for these teens, they also have an insanely, rip-roaring, amazingly fun week. This is a real place where they can test life, learn more about themselves, and bring skills onward into their future. CITs often reference thier time at LES on college applications, resumes and job applications. We have written countless letters of recommendations for CITs. Some students credit the CIT program with gaining them college scholarships and the skills to feel confident in their first job.


  • 15 or older (at the time of camp) preferred, however we will accept applications from mature, motivated 14 year olds
  • Applicant must have attended one year of Earth Roots camp, plus one additional overnight camp (it could be another Earth Roots). It is preferred that they have attended another specialty teen camp other than Earth Roots (such as Fire Tenders overnight camp, Keepers of the Arrow day camp, etc.)
  • Have a genuine interest in working with younger campers
  • Have a genuine desire to deepen their own nature connection


We will accept applications filled out by the CIT (not the parent) starting in late January–it is best if you get your application in by February 15 since spots fill fast, however reach out throughout the spring to see if we have openings. We will let you know in March if your child has been accepted and for which weeks. At that point our office administrator will give you a link to register online.

Camp leadership trainingCost:

$400 per week

Time Expectations:

CITs participate in preparation meetings, debrief meeting and post-camp take-down, thus they need to arrive early and stay late. Drop off is 8:45 am on the first day of camp (typically a Sunday), and pick up is 3 pm on the last day of camp (typically a Friday). The learning is compounded if CITs can participate in more than one week of camp, thus we encourage at least two or three weeks, however we understand this is not possible for everyone and we encourage you to apply even if you can only do one week.

Stay in tune with yourself. Keep checking in that you’re keeping up on sleep, personal time, etc. A happy staffer=happy campers. Find a good balance between responsibility and fun. Stay on top of your job. Keep it safe. But at the same time it’s summer camp! Do the games, get into the activities, bond with your group, and don’t think you’re too cool for school.
You have no idea how much you can learn and mature in one week when you have the right support network and an excellent task ahead of you, and on top of that it will also be some of the most fun of your life. I have made lasting friends through this CIT program, both adults and peers, and will always keep these connections. As a camper you can make friends but as a CIT you can really develop relationships. On top of that the best way to learn is through teaching, and even if you feel you might not be ready to start this part of your journey, becoming a CIT will teach you more than you could know.
Sammy D