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Shrine Mont is a teen-friendly place to work

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Since the 1920s, Shrine Mont has been a conference and retreat center located in Orkney Springs, Virginia. Executive director Kevin Moomaw and his wife Mary have managed the center since 2007. The season for Shrine Mont runs from late March until the first week of November. Most of their guests are people from parishes and youth camps in the summer.They offer different styles of accommodations: cottages, hotel style rooms, dorms and camp life. Situated on 1100 acres, the center can accommodate about 600 guests in addition to 600-700 children in camps. They have two dining halls, one offering family-style meals and the other buffet-style.

The dining halls offer three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are at 8:00 am, 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm, and workers have to be in position a half an hour before each meal. Positions such kitchen, wait staff and dishwashers are typically filled by teens.  They get paid by meals with tips every week. It’s an easy job, but sometimes weekends can get hectic with 300 – 400 guests on site.  Approximately 30 to 50 kids are needed throughout the season to run both kitchens. Lifeguard jobs are also available during the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Between meals, the kids get a break to take a nap or relax. They can do activities such as hiking or swimming to pass their break and still enjoy their summer. Most of the staff are high schoolers or college kids from the local area. It gives them the opportunity to become friends with people they might not ordinarily come into contact with. The friendships extend beyond the staff, offering opportunities for them to interact with guests who live outside of Shenandoah County. These interactions can be a way to network with others and possibly open some doors in the future through internships, references or recommendation letters.

Kristen Miller, a girl from Stonewall Jackson, has been working in the dining hall for about 4 months. Since she started, many new people have arrived. There is a set of rules hanging in the kitchen and the most important one is to help others. If anyone is done with their job they have to help their mates either with the guests or to clean.

“I like how you get along with the people even if they don’t know you,” Miller said. “You feel comfortable working with people your age.” 

 Maria Proa started working in the family style dining room in mid-September.  During meals, she and the other wait-staff replenish food and drink, then clean and set up their assigned tables for the next meal. Breaks can be long for her, but a positive is that she gets to sleep or do homework during that time.

“I thought it was going to be very hard but it’s actually really simple,” Proa said. “Guests are usually very nice.”

One of the perks of working in the kitchen is that the staff get to eat the delicious, homemade country food.

Laurie Trice is a cook in one the dining halls. She started working there in 2010. Now in her seventh year, she loves working at Shrine Mont. Considering that she used to work in an elementary school, she is very patient with kids and enjoys working with them. She interacts with every guest and makes them enjoy their meals.

“I like the people. I like working with the kids,” Trice said. “I like the guests; you get to know them. It’s the same people that come back every year, and they remember you and it’s kind of like a big family”.

Shrine Mont is a place where people go to get away from stress and spend time with their families. It has an atmosphere that makes people relax and enjoy nature. It has a better fit for teens to work and have their first job because after their first paycheck they feel good about themselves, and it encourages them to work and be responsible with their money. Typically they hire 14 to 16-year-olds with the permission of their parents and a work permit.

Mary Moomaw said that anyone who would like to work simply needs to fill out an application and send it to Shrine Mont. They will call you for an interview. The schedule is flexible, so employees can choose the days they are available. Hiring begins in March. Moomaw believes that every teen has the opportunity to work and Shrine Mont is a good place to start to gain experience. Additionally, it makes people interact with nature and appreciate their surroundings.

”We give everybody this nice, lovely Shrine Mont staff shirt,” Mrs. Moomaw said. “We just ask that people wear khaki pants or shorts in the summer, closed-toed shoes and have their hair up, and we are ready to put them to work.”

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Shrine Mont is a teen-friendly place to work