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STEAM Summer Camp - Teach Kids to Use Power Tools and Build Giant Art Projects

Project Ember Menlo Park, CA
  • Posted: 17 days ago
  • Other
Job Description

Menlo Park, CA 94025 | June 15 - August 13 | Full Time | Seasonal - Summer 2020

Spend Your Summer Designing and Building One of a Kind Creations with the Team at Project Ember

Calling all ambitious educators, artists, engineers - empaths and creatives of all kinds! Come spend your summer teaching kids to use power tools, saying yes to wild and imaginative designs, and creating a community where campers feel seen, heard, and valued.

Creativity thrives in spaces where everyone feels a sense of belonging; we are committed to creating an inclusive workplace for all employees, in celebration of all identities.


Project Ember is an artistic engineering camp where kids collaboratively design and build interactive projects at a scale you have to see to believe. Every week of camp has a surprise theme, but beyond some guiding constraints, our campers have the creative freedom to design their very own projects. Without blueprints or kits, our campers and Collaborators (counselors) spend the week designing, prototyping, testing, iterating, and refining a project. And then we celebrate what we've made with a huge demonstration day. The magic of Project Ember lives at the intersection of daring creativity and inclusive collaboration. Kids are challenged to take big creative risks without guaranteed success and to work together to accomplish something bigger than they could imagine doing on their own. Vulnerability is an essential piece of meaningful creative output, personal growth, and teamwork, so we work tirelessly to create an environment where all campers feel a sense of belonging.


Work with kids ages 8-14 to engineer larger than life art, structures, puppets, vehicles, mechanisms and more. Create a community of learners who celebrate mistakes, honor sincerity, and value the power of both the individual and the team. Use a huge range of supplies and tools from standard arts and crafts, to power tools and dimensional lumber. You don’t need to be perfect to apply; come with either experience making rad stuff or experience working with kids. While both is ideal, we want our team to be a mix of educators, makers, artists, facilitators, and engineers.

Your primary role will be supporting and guiding kids through the complex process of working on a team to make something bigger than themselves (figuratively and literally). You will be a teammate, doing the work right alongside the kids. You will be a facilitator, making sure every voice is heard and guiding the kids through compromise and towards consensus. You will be a leader tilting the environment towards engagement, and the project towards completion. At other times you will have to hold firm boundaries that keep kids physically and emotionally safe. Above all else, you will help create a space where kids at our camp feel seen, heard and loved.


  • Build large-scale projects with kids utilizing power tools (we will teach you how!)
  • Facilitate daily design sessions, establishing the scope of the project and the daily goals (we will teach you how!)
  • Uphold Project Ember’s tool use and risk management policies
  • Maintain an emotionally and physically safe environment
  • Model and teach inclusivity
  • Facilitate meaningful collaboration and mediate conflict among campers
  • Bandage scrapped knees, have heart to hearts, and celebrate vulnerability
  • Host games and program transitions
  • Share stories with families about their children
  • Co-develop curriculum and pick the summer's project themes with the rest of staff
  • Attend regular meetings focused on skills development and specific camper needs
  • Keep the site clean, orderly, and safe
  • Supervise before care, aftercare, snack, lunch and park time (though never all of them in a single day)
  • Regularly submit camper notes (these help us maintain multi-year relationships with alumni and track things like projects they worked on and delightful moments they were apart of)


  • You have started and completed a significant project of your own volition AND/OR
  • You have experience working with children as a teacher, camp counselor, or mentor (informal experience welcome)
  • You care deeply for the well-being of young people and know how to take care of yourself so that you are able to meet their needs during program hours
  • You are an excellent communicator and are comfortable giving and receiving feedback
  • You are swift to adapt to changing situations and have a high tolerance for uncertainty.
  • You are committed to safety and high-quality program delivery
  • You can pass a criminal background check
  • You are 18+


  • The ability to understand and make oneself understood with Spanish speaking families
  • Formal training AND/OR real-world experience in progressive education.
  • First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, EMT or equivalent training (certification can take place after hiring)


  • Location: Synapse School, Menlo Park, CA
  • Employment: This is a full-time, seasonal job without benefits or paid vacation time. Sick leave is paid.
  • Compensation: $17 - $22 per hour depending on skills and experience
  • Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 - 4:30 or 9:15 - 5:15 (40 hour work week with occasional overtime sessions on Fridays and at the end of the summer for clean up)


  • Mandatory Staff Training: June 15th - 19th
  • Programs Dates: June 22nd - August 7th
  • Debrief and Cleanup: August 10th - 13th - Please expect to work full days on August 12th and 13th


  • Occasional Lifting up to 30lb
  • Computer use (typing, reading)
  • Speaking to communicate both up close and over large distances
  • Seeing to maintain line-of-sight with campers
  • Kneeling, leaning, and/or squatting (primarily to interact with kids and projects)
  • Sitting on the floor or standing for long periods of time

We make large scale projects because they captivate and unleash the imagination. We might challenge our kids to conceive of a mechanism that allows the smallest member of their team to safely lift the rest off the ground, a sophisticated engineering feat. But our prompts go beyond the technical into the artistic terrain of world-building. Why are they being lifted? Who's lifting them? Where does the scene take place? By asking kids to contextualize their design within a world, they are challenged to think holistically, projects offer more avenues for connection, and most importantly, we stretch the imagination to its limits. The complexity and scale of our design challenges also create authentic motivation for collaboration; it's near impossible (and a lot less fun) to bring these worlds to life without teamwork and solid communication.

No kits. No blueprints. No guarantees it will work. Just a challenge, curious minds, a cooperative environment, and a whole lot of screws.


Yup, practice. We think of creativity like any muscle that must be warmed up, stretched, challenged, nourished, rested then worked again. At Project Ember, we obsess over creating an environment that supports the formation of a creative habit. We say yes to crazy ideas. To create stability and restore energy amidst the uncertainty and challenges of a complex project, we use both ritual and play. We celebrate mistakes, and plan our project time so we can investigate and make revisions when things go wrong.


Curiosity is at the heart of an engaging and rewarding life. It allows us to see the things we don't yet know as opportunities rather than an obstacles. When we value the ability to ask good questions over information recall, it makes kids both better listeners and doers. This approach closes the gap between novice and expert, creating less intimidating environments for collaboration. A curious mind is humble and observant and its joy is infectious. It infuses learning with wonder and drives exploration of new terrain. To develop a curious mind is to invite a child to a lifelong practice of self-motivated learning.


We ask kids to dream big and work hard. Our projects are ambitious; creative thinking and curiosity alone won't see us to the finish line. We need elbow grease and resilience to get it done. We need grit.

Grit separates brilliant ideas from brilliant creations. Thinking is easy, starting is hard, and finishing can seem nearly impossible. Grit get us to the other side of the hurdles that stand between us and successfully bringing our ideas to life.

Project Ember


Menlo Park, CA

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