Staff Development Program

Phantom Lake YMCA Camp offers a unique opportunity in our resident camp program for teenagers age 15-17. The Staff Development Program (SDP) is designed for adolescents who are dedicated to camp, love working with kids, and have a lot of energy to give. The program teaches more than just how to be a great camp counselor; the program promotes leadership development.  The program is designed to build strong, competent, and ambitious LEADERS.  The program focuses on skill building, leadership experience, and service learning… all of which will better prepare you for the rest of your high school experience and beyond.

2018 Important Dates

Fall Retreat. All SDP’s from this past summer are invited to this retreat.

November 1st: Deadline for applications, essays and letters of recommendations.

February 16-18, 2018: CIT Retreat. All first year SDP’s (CIT’s) are invited to this retreat. The Winter Retreat will focus on preparing all first year SDP’s with the necessary information regarding the responsibilities and expectations of the Staff Development Program.

April 13-15, 2018 Dates: Spring Retreat. All CIT’s and LIT’s are invited to the Spring Retreat. This weekend we spend  working on leadership and camp skills, building community, and better understanding the roles of the being an SDP participant.

2018 TBA:  CAC (Counseling AC) Retreat will teach ACs everything they need to know to have a successful counseling week. Think of this retreat as a condensed staff training. ACs will learn the ins and outs to check in, parent interaction, behavior management, the PLYC daily schedule, SDP evaluation, and be trained in child abuse, neglect, prevention. There will be ample time to ask questions and enjoy the company of your fellow ACs.

Levels of the SDP Program

Advancement: Advancement to the LIT and AC phases of the program is based solely upon the demonstrated growth and development in all areas. Therefore, we must insist on participation in all phases of the program. Successful completion of the course requirements does not guarantee a place in the next year’s program, or on the Phantom Staff! Although the SDP program is not designed to have SDPs compete against each other, comparisons will be made between SDPs in choosing who will be asked back for the following year.

Note: In order to ensure the highest quality of both the SDP Program and to our campers there is limited availability of this program.

As a Camper in Training (or CIT) 15 year olds attend camp for one week, and stay in a tent with other CIT’s. They are assigned to assist another tent with a staff counselor and possibly another SDP.

As a  Leader in Training (or LIT) 16 year olds attend camp for two weeks and stay in a tent with the campers and the staff counselor.

As an Assistant Counselor (or AC) 17 year olds attend camp for three weeks, the last of which they counsel their own tent with the help of their own LIT or CIT.

During the day, the SDP’s will work at program areas (boating, craft shop, outdoor adventure, etc) and help plan activities along with the staff.

SDPs attend two weekend training retreats to help SDP’s make the transition from camper to counselor. New CIT’s do not attend the October retreat but begin their work as an SDP at a February “CIT only” retreat that is designed just for their needs.

People interested in the SDP program should have a strong desire to work with children. SDP’s can join at any time between the ages of 15 and 17 and do not have to have been a camper at Phantom.

The application dead line is November 1 for the following year.


Current Red Cross, YMCA or BSA certifications in First Aid, CPR and Life guarding are not required but are highly recommended for SDP participants. These certifications are important to the overall camp program, and SDPs are encouraged to take these courses. SDP does who wish to work on the waterfront are highly recommended to obtain Life guarding.