“Campers in Leadership Training”

The CILT Program

Your CILT summer will be your last as a camper and there is a good chance it will be your best and hardest. This summer, you have the opportunity to give back to a place that has hopefully given you so much. The CILT program is something that Cheley is proud of and something that we are constantly striving to improve. We aim to take campers with strong leadership potential and continue harvesting that potential.

What does it mean to be a CILT?

CILT stands for Campers in Leadership Training.

The purpose of the CILT program is to provide CILTs with training in using effective leadership skills throughout their lives and how to effectively work with youth at camp and in many other settings. These leadership skills include teamwork, responsibility, motivation, listening, initiative, learning, creativity, persistence, presenting, problem-solving, and observation. The leadership skills that will be learned as part of the CILT program can be used in all parts of life, including at home, in school, in sports and other extracurriculars, in youth groups, at work, and in your community.

You will learn these skills in a safe environment through fun and challenging activities, workshops, and discussions. This summer, you will be asked to help develop the Code of Living with your unit. You will be asked to help with campfires and cookouts. You will be asked to assist in new ways on program. You will also be asked to see what needs to be done and help do it. This may include helping a camper missing home without being asked by a counselor. Or having the eye to see that the basketball court needs to be swept and take the initiative to just do it. During your CILT summer­, you will have the opportunity to work under the mentorship of camp staff, including the CILT coordinator, your home unit assistant director, exchange AD, and more. And you will receive frequent feedback and evaluations, do self-evaluations, and keep a “Leadership Log” journal to help you get the most from your experience.

Now, for a few things that the CILT program is not. It is not a special privilege. In the past, we have had CILTs return with an attitude that they are more important or better than the rest of the campers. That is not the case: More responsibilities come with leadership than privileges. During your CILT summer, you will have some advantages (hot beverages at meals and time together as CILTs – to name a few), but that should not be the reason you are returning. You will have the honor of wearing a Yellow Kerchief (one that can be revoked), but the biggest privilege you will have this summer is working with a group of outstanding people. During your CILT summer, there are some things you will gain and there will be some things that you give up. You will have the opportunity to go on exchange in another unit and see a little more of what it is like to be a counselor at Cheley. This will be a week full of challenges, learning, and fun that will culminate with a cookout (one of the highlights of the CILT program). During CILT Exchange, you will give up a week’s worth of time in your home unit while you are gone. This is just a small lesson about what it means to be a leader.

As mentioned, the training provided in the CILT program will help prepare you for leadership roles in all walks of life. But please note: Even if you complete the CILT program successfully, it does not necessarily mean that you will be asked to apply for a staff position at Cheley in the future or offered a position if you apply. We are pleased each summer that former CILTs who excelled in the CILT program apply and are part of our staff, and still, being a CILT does not mean you will be hired as a staff member. Sometimes, even young people who have done a great job and learned a lot in the CILT program are not always ready to assume the responsibilities of a staff member at Cheley, especially in the summer directly following their CILT summer. Such people can always apply in future years.

The Application Process

The CILT program is for young people who are highly motivated, ready to work and play hard, and who demonstrate additional responsibility in accepting the challenges of leadership. The CILT Program is open to those campers who have attended Cheley in the past AND who are going into their junior OR senior year of high school the year that they apply. This would mean that you would be a CILT the summer before OR after your senior year of high school. With that said, many campers choose not to participate in the program and make the decision to return as campers. To avoid disappointment, we also ask that CILTs reflect upon and confirm that they are interested in participating in the CILT program because they have a strong interest in learning leadership skills and in learning how to be terrific leaders in many different types of programs, and not because they are seeking a specific position here in the future.


Prospective applicants receive a copy of the CILT application on the first Sunday of their term. Campers must complete and submit their application to their Assistant Director by the third Sunday of their term.


Invitations to serve as a CILT are determined by four criteria:


Campers and counselor in the upper four units receive a ballot that describes the attributes and characteristics of prospective CILTS. The Director/AD goes over how the campers are to vote and how they are not to vote (e.g., for their best friend, bunkmate, etc.). They do their best so that campers understand the importance of the votes they are casting. Every applicant is listed on the ballot.

The Director/ADs are the only ones who know the outcome of the votes. Based on these factors and Director/AD’s personal insight on the individual applying, they will make their recommendations for the subsequent year. There are times when we have more qualified applicants than availability in the program. If this happens, we must select the top candidates for the CILT program. Younger applicants (those going into their junior year) are sometimes encouraged to postpone applying until the following year for various reasons. We have also had campers selected who we thought could do a good job the summer prior to their senior year that we will encourage to wait until the following summer in order to provide for an even better experience. This happens with some frequency as we want the camper to be best prepared for the important roles of the position. 


While we make every effort to accept all qualified candidates, we have learned that the CILT experience can be compromised if we accept too many participants. The set number for each unit may vary but rarely exceeds 8 CILTs per term per unit. We also take into consideration the connection between the campers, the experience of the director and assistant director of the specific unit, and the demographics of the unit. Unfortunately, there are many times when we are not able to accept a camper who has been to camp for many years. This decision process is one of the most difficult decisions each year. We have watched these campers grow up at camp so it is very challenging when we can’t accept everyone.