Being a KA (Kitchen Aide) is a great opportunity for girls in the Explorer Division (grades 9-11) to gain work experience while also still being able to experience camp! A group of KAs generally consists of six to eight girls, depending on the week. Kitchen Aids are responsible for setting the dining hall tables, serving the food, and cleaning up afterwards.
I can honestly say from experience that a tent of KAs will grow much closer than a tent/cabin of regular campers, and that’s saying a lot! Not only will you be working together to get things done in the kitchen, you also share a tent, eat meals together, and study God’s word together.
KAs are together nearly 24/7, and it’s actually pretty great! You become such close friends with one another and almost immediately they become your sisters. You’ll share so many great memories with each other, such as goofing off in the kitchen while dancing and singing at the top of your lungs along to Christian or Disney music when there are no other campers around, all the silly little mistakes (like having a fork fall out of the rack in Daisy, aka the dishwasher, and having to fish it out), and all the weird experiences you’ll probably end up sharing.
But as fun as it is, KAing is also a lot of work. I’m not going to lie – it is physically demanding, and at times can be emotionally and mentally draining, but as a veteran KA, I can truly say that I would not trade the four weeks I’ve spent KAing for anything! Often you may feel that all you want is a break, but with the help of your other KAs, you can and will push through it, and at the end of the day when you really look back at what you have all accomplished, it is the greatest feeling!
Being a KA is a way to go to camp for free for one or two weeks in the summer in exchange for work; however, please, please do not sign up for the sole reason of going to camp for free! I seriously encourage you to go with a heart and mindset of serving others and the Lord. It seriously will help you through the challenges that you may go through in the week. It won’t magically help you wash dishes super fast, but it will make the job seem a lot easier at times. You’ll remember and focus on the real reason that you are there, especially at times that you may feel stressed or homesick or
overwhelmed (which is normal and it’s okay to feel like that. If you do feel like that, I would encourage you to go talk to your counselor and ask her to pray with you; it’s really helpful!) It will help you stay focused on what matters and stay calm when you remember that the reason you are there isn’t for your own gain, but to bring honor and glory to God.
A couple of tips I have for new KAs that I wish I’d known before I had started:
- Don’t be surprised by the fact that your schedule will be quite different from other campers. I would suggest bringing a notebook if you want to write down your schedule for the day because the schedule handed to you at registration is just a general schedule and is different from how your day will be laid out.
- You will not have second activity. This time will be spent getting ready for lunch service. If you finish early, you should have time to relax or play spoons or whatever during that time.
- Being a KA is a fast-paced job, but not so much that you shouldn’t be able to handle it. You will be working between about six to seven hours, and your day will still consist of plenty of fun.
- Bring a watch, a battery-powered alarm clock (because you will be waking up earlier than the regular campers), shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting wet (shoes should really be sneakers), a bandana (or 2 or 3, or actually just bring all the bandanas), and a backpack or string bag (because you will want to bring whatever you need for the day because you won’t be going back to the division a lot). Most importantly, you must bring your New York state work permit!
- Be kind and try your best to always keep a smile on your face. The younger campers (especially the Pathfinders) really do look up to you.
Being a KA is a definitely different from the camper experience, but it is a really good one! So sign up and go and just have fun!
Service Crew campers (Kitchen Aides and Groom Aides) are part of the Women in Leadership Development program, which is designed to give girls opportunities to cultivate leadership skills during their Explorer years.