Environmental Education Instructors at Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center teach students through a residential outdoor environmental education program known as Coastal Communities. Instructors of the Coastal Communities program facilitate students in grades 3 - 8, and occasionally students as young as kindergarten and high school age. In this program, students come with their class for a one-day, two-day, three-day, or even five-day nature experience. Instructors teach a variety of different explorations, depending on which programs teachers select from the following list. Program options offered through Coastal Communities include:
Neuse River Study, Beach Study, Salt Marsh Study, Pond Study, Herpetology, Fantastic Fish (dissection), Tidal Creek Study (canoeing), Ocean Study, Marine Invertebrates (dissection), Creeping Crawlers, Forest Ecology, Coastal Soil Ecology, Coastal Birds, Weather, Traditional Coastal Transportation (sailing), Coastal Seafood Experience, Fossils, Coastal Folklore, Settlers, Fishing, Arts and Crafts, Creatures of the Neuse, Plankton, Man and the Neuse River, Challenge Course, Stars and Constellations, Night Nature, Native Americans, Pirates, and Maps and Charts Navigation.
Experiential education at Don Lee also incorporates our low element challenge course through both the Common Ground program and the Coastal Communities program. Groups may participate in the challenge course experience for a small portion of their extended visit, or for an entire day! This experience is designed to raise the awareness of students as being part of a group, help them to better learn to cooperate, communicate, and work more effectively as a team. Together, the experiences of these two programs can be a very effective tool to help reinforce lessons of teachers working in a classroom setting.
Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center's Environmental and Outdoor Educators are required to have a bachelor's degree in a science or education related field or in outdoor recreation and experiential education. They should possess experience or strong interest in teaching children in an outdoor setting. Enthusiasm, flexibility, and effective communication skills are a must. Those persons seeking internships must currently be obtaining a college degree in a related field and possess a strong desire to teach children in an outdoor setting.
Expectations of Don Lee Experiential Education Staff:
- Enthusiasm about the environment and the experiential education process
- Self-confidence and the ability to facilitate activities with large and small groups
- Be prepared and prompt for all activities and meetings
- Ability to function as an effective team member with other staff members, and to successfully function in a cooperative, communal living environment
- Helping with setting up and cleaning up of daily activities
- Hardworking person with the ability to work long hours in a day, in an outdoor setting
- Positive Attitudes!!
- Debrief daily with other staff members and be able to offer solutions to issues
- Communication of problems, ideas, etc. with coordinator and other Don Lee staff members
Salary for staff is $425 per week plus room and board. Salary for non-degreed, interns is $250 plus room and board. There is also limited medical insurance and workers compensation insurance provided. Camp provides staff with three meals a day, five days a week, which are prepared by our dining hall staff. Staff members are required to work 5 days a week, and have 2 days per week off work. Due to the nature of the camping atmosphere, the two days a week that members are off are not always the same two days each week. Employment is seasonal; Fall session begins early September and runs through mid-November, Spring season begins in late February and runs through the beginning of June.
What is a typical day like at Don Lee:
Spring 2024 Season:
In the spring, our groups are primarily large (up to 200 people), overnight groups that are coming for an environmental education experience to reinforce the lessons they have learned in the classroom all year. We hire twelve seasonal positions in the spring, as well as utilizing educators that live locally when needed. We work in the small group model of 1 instructor per group of 15 students; in addition, the school is required to provide one, preferably two, adults per group of fifteen students.
Our days begin before breakfast, when staff are expected to have their classes/activities set-up to begin immediately following breakfast at 8:45 a.m. Staff will usually teach 3 program options between breakfast and lunch (at 12:30), and then teach 3 to 4 more rotations of that exploration between lunch and dinner. After dinner, there is a time for group reflections (facilitated by staff), and evening programs. Lights out for all groups is at 10:00 p.m.
Fall 2024 Season:
In the fall, we have many large groups (up to 150 students) attending for a day of Common Ground programming. We also have a significant number of Coastal Communities day and overnight programs in the fall as well. For the day programs groups usually arrive by 9:00 a.m. and will stay up to 5:00 p.m., so there is no evening programming necessary for these groups. Overnight Coastal Communities groups follow the same schedule that is described in the 'Spring Season' information above.
Although this may be a brief description of what your workday could be like, sometimes staff are required to facilitate nature experiences or challenge course work with weekend retreat groups or other groups visiting the facility. Also, we try to cater the experience to meet the needs of each group, so a visit could be either program, or a combination of both programs.
A little about Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center policy:
Staff members are expected to read over Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center's Policies and Procedures before beginning work. Some of the specifics from the packet are briefly described here. Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center is affiliated by philosophy with the United Methodist Church. There is an expectation that each staff member have respect for this set of operating beliefs.
Each staff member is expected to provide his/her own transportation to and from the Center. Staff may bring automobiles to Don Lee if the auto is fully insured. Pets are not allowed on property. Because of the unique nature of the Center and its operation, it may, from time to time, become necessary to deploy staff members across job description lines. Staff members are expected to share in those tasks for which he/she may be deployed so that the total operation of the Camp may proceed smoothly.
Mailing address is (your name), 315 Camp Don Lee Rd, Arapahoe, NC 28510. Spring and Fall staff have access to wireless internet throughout most of camp and a phone that is shared by all seasonal staff.
Housing for staff members is limited to individuals because we are not equipped to house family units. Experiential Education Staff will live in the staff house with roommates most of the time. The staff house has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a common area, and a screened in porch. Furniture is provided for the common area and bedrooms. Bedrooms include bunk beds, closets, and a type of shelf/dresser. Staff members are welcome to bring any additional furnishings they feel necessary. Don Lee Center also has additional housing for staff in our health center.
What Kind of Recreational Things Are There to Do At or Near the Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center?
Don Lee Camp & Retreat Center is located in a small, rural town called Arapahoe. There are lots of outdoor recreation opportunities in the immediate area including boating, swimming, fishing, and biking. Don Lee is located on the Neuse River, but not really close to any thriving metropolis. New Bern, the closest "civilized" area, is about 30 minutes from Don Lee. There is also a free ferry about 10 minutes away that shuttles cars to Havelock, NC. It is only a 25 minute drive from Havelock to the Outer banks (the closest is Atlantic Beach). There is a maritime museum, an aquarium, beaches, and plenty of good seafood restaurants in these areas. The Croatan National Forest is also close and provides camping and hiking opportunities. Also close to Don Lee is a little fishing village known as Oriental. Oriental is widely known as a popular area for sailing.