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Youth Teaching Assistants (YTA)

We are looking for responsible and highly motivated teenagers to assist with Summer Camp. Youth Teaching Assistants (YTAs) are ages 15 and older and offer support to the instructors. YTA options will be available weekly from June through August 2024.

Applications must be submitted by March 8, 2024. Volunteers will be contacted via email by April 1, 2024.

Apply to be a YTA

Why become a Youth Teaching Assistant?

  • Be a role model.
  • Earn community service credits towards graduation.
  • Interact with the Smithsonian Institution!
  • Gain experience in a professional setting.
  • Have an intriguing experience to add to a resume or college application.

It's Great Experience!

Serving as a YTA provides an extraordinary hands-on way for teens to be involved with a national organization, the Smithsonian Institution. YTAs befriend, help, and act as role models for younger children. Assisting instructors in the camp room, YTAs gain unique experience in a professional setting.

The wide range of programs offer YTAs the opportunity to experience and learn about new subject areas or increase and share their understanding of a more familiar subject such as art, science, history and collections overall. The wide range of programs offer YTAs the opportunity to experience and learn about new subject areas or increase and share their understanding of a more familiar subject such as art, science, or theater. YTAs can earn community service credits and have an intriguing experience to add to a resume or college application.

Summer camp sessions almost all meet for a five-day week, Monday through Friday; the weeks of Juneteenth and July 4th, camp sessions will meet for four days. In-person camp sessions are held on the National Mall in the S. Dillon Ripley Center, unless otherwise stated.

YTA Boot Camp (Must be at least 14 years old)

Learn the skills needed to become an outstanding future Youth Teaching Assistant (YTA) in a one-week intensive training camp guided by Smithsonian instructors and the camp program manager. Students entering grade 9 in Fall 2024 or who are at least 14 years old are eligible to participate.


Youth Teaching Assistant (YTA) Responsibilities

  1. Mandatory attendance at a YTA orientation.
    This will occur at the S. Dillon Ripley Center on the National Mall. Dates and times TBD.
  2. Be active, engaging and participate, as the instructors require.
    Don't just watch—get involved! Be a positive role model for the younger participants.
  3. Represent the Smithsonian positively.
    Throughout your entire time with us, on field trips, in the classrooms, and at lunch, you are a representative of the Smithsonian. We expect our YTAs to behave professionally, engage with campers kindly, and present themselves maturely.
  4. Hold and maintain the camp packet for your assigned camp.
    This packet contains a roster of participants, copies of each child's medical release forms, and other important information. It is your responsibility to keep this packet in a safe place and have it with you during all classroom activities, on all field trips, and during camper drop-off and pick-up. Camp packets must be given to the YTA supervisor at the end of the day and should not be taken home.
  5. Arrive at 8:15 a.m. on Mondays and 8:30 a.m. the rest of the week.
    During this time, you will help the instructor prepare for the class. Check with the instructors for specific needs and assignments. During this time, you will also meet with the other YTAs and the YTA supervisor.
  6. Be prepared for the arrival of campers.
    With your camp packet in hand, pick up your campers from Before-Camp, and be stationed in front of the Ripley Center by 9:00 a.m. for morning drop-off. Check in each camper upon arrival and provide supervision for the campers in front of the building and on the way to the classroom to meet the teachers.
  7. Always wear your lanyard with name badge and manage camper name badges.
    YTAs pick up their name badges on the first Monday morning they work. You need to bring your name badge to and from home each day to ensure access to the Ripley Center before the building is opened to the public. Make sure you have a name badge for each camper daily and that it remains on the camper’s clothing during the day.
  8. You and the instructors are responsible for each child's whereabouts at all times
    Assist with restroom trips for campers under 12. Also act as a "go for" if necessary. Check in with instructors before you leave the camp room.
  9. Assist with field trips.
    Keep tally of campers, have a positive attitude, and help the instructors as requested. Always leave a Field Trip Form on the door of the classroom when the camp leaves the Ripley Center, informing people where the camp group has gone, when you left, and when you expect to return.
  10. Oversee the lunch hour and participate in or lead safe games and organized activities.
    All camps will have lunch together from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at a designated outside location, weather permitting. Lunch will be supervised by Camp Staff.
  11. Assist the instructors with classroom set up and clean up.
    Classrooms must be left clean at the end of each day. You will be provided with a room cleaning policy. Sometimes the classroom will need to be reset in the mornings if there was another program in the room the night before.
  12. Supervise pick-up at the end of each camp day.
    Ensure you have all of the children, and escort campers to after-camp or upstairs to the drop-off point in front of the Ripley Center. You must make sure each child leaves with an adult with the appropriate drop-off card.
  13. Promptness and attendance are musts.
    Not adhering to the schedule is cause for dismissal as it could jeopardize the safety of the campers.
  14. Dress code is informal, but neat.
    Short shorts, torn clothing, flip-flops, spaghetti strap tank tops, and shirts that expose midriffs are not considered appropriate for camp. You will be provided with a camp t-shirt to wear on Mondays and any other day you wish. Comfortable walking shoes are advised, as you will be walking the National Mall daily.
  15. Bring a non-perishable lunch and drink(s) with you each day.
    Facilities for purchasing meals are not available. Please keep in mind that YTAs must be with the campers for their entire lunch period, so plan accordingly. No food or drink is to be consumed on the Ripley Center concourse. Bring a refillable water bottle.
  16. Mobile phone use must be limited to break times or emergencies.
    Please do not use your cell phone during the times when you are attending to campers, especially drop-off and pick-up times. Bring your cell phone with you on field trips in case Camp Staff needs to contact you for emergencies but remain attentive to the campers.