A Message for Volunteer Counselors

home-school-weekThank you in advance for your willingness to support Tilikum and the children who will be experiencing camp this summer! I read a statistic recently which stated that a child’s basic “moral compass” is developed as early as age 8. They observe, absorb, catch on to ideas and learn from their environment so quickly at such a young age. What an opportunity to be a part of that process, speaking into the lives of children as they grow. It is our hope that we can help campers discover God’s love all around them, in every detail. It is so important to learn and be reminded that we are loved by our creator.

You are so important! As a counselor, you are a key player in helping attain Tilikum’s objectives for every camper. Your sensitivity, caring, and concern for them as individuals can help them relate their camp experiences to real life. While at camp, you are a living example of God’s love that is watched very closely by the campers. Believe it or not, the way you live life in front of them all day every day for this one week will have a significant impact on them.

The purpose of this page is to provide you with useful tools while you are at Tilikum. Please read through the information below in preparation for spending a week with us as a volunteer. Use what you find here as a springboard for servant leadership and spiritual growth at camp. Thanks again for joining us!

Warmly,

Rommie Christiansen
Camp Program Director

Qualifications

  • All counselors must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • All counselors must have a genuine compassion for people; specifically children.
  • Counselors must be entering the 11th grade or at least 16 years old.
  • Counselors should be able to lift 50 pounds and easily manage rough terrain.
  • Junior counselors must be entering the 9th grade or be at least 14 years old.
  • All volunteers must be eager to learn the role/responsibilities of a counselor, and be willing to support the Day Camp program and staff in any way possible.
  • Counselors will be placed where most needed. We cannot guarantee  that you will be placed with your child.

Junior Counselors (ages 14-16) are recognized as young people who desire to learn the necessary skills to be a good counselor. Because the best way to learn any skill is to experience it, you will have the same responsibilities as counselor. You are to conduct yourself as a mature person who is no longer a camper. This must be evident at all times during your time at camp. If not, you may be asked not to return for the remainder of the camp week.

Apply

If you are interested in being a Volunteer Counselor at one of the summer camps, you must fill out a online volunteer application. Camp Staff will contact you once your application has been processed.

What to expect

Counselors are an essential part of the Summer Camp ministry at Camp Tilikum. Your primary responsibility is to support your staff person and to be a friend to campers.

  1. The first morning get the names of your assigned campers and try to memorize them.
  2. Take a head count first thing in the morning, and then several times during the day. Younger campers can have a tendency to walk off and sometimes become part of another group.
  3. You are asked to participate in the total camp program with the campers, unless there is a reason you are not able to and you have discussed it with your staff person.
  4. Lunch time is an opportunity to relax and spend time together. This is an amazing time to hear more about your campers’ lives and encourage them.
  5. Assist the staff person in the general control of your group throughout the day. Keep your campers close to you and encourage them to be cooperative, to participate, and not to be distracting.

Specific program responsibilities

Bus/van ride (if coming as part of a church group)

This is a camp activity. You can do a lot to make it quality time. Songs, quiet games, and other creative amusements can make even the bus/van ride home a looked-forward-to, fun part of the day. Naps are sometimes a great option, too.

Counselor meeting

While the campers all meet with the staff (during opening time each day), you will meet with one of the On-site Directors. This time is your chance to share the good experiences that you’ve been having throughout the week. If you have any questions or comments, please bring them up for discussion.

Story lesson

The Tilikum staff will lead songs and share fun theme stories and skits. Please sit on the mats with your group and take part. You also may need to help keep campers attention focused on the songs and stories being shared.

Trail talk

This is a short time set aside to discuss the day’s theme in individual staff/camper groups. Crowd control is a significant role during this time. If you would like to help lead a trail talk discussion, talk with your staff person ahead of time. We can give you some questions and Bible character illustrations to help lead your group in a discussion.

Closing time

The Tilikum staff will lead songs and skits at the end of the day. Please sit on the benches around the perimeter of the playshed. As the Tilikum staff are up front at this time your help with camper management is definitely appreciated!

Group activities

Camper groups at Tilikum Day Camp will participate in rafting, canoeing, archery, Big Swing, nature hikes, and games. Tilikum’s staff will teach and supervise each activity. We encourage you to become a participant with the campers rather than a spectator. As you participate, the campers will have the opportunity to observe you as you handle real-life situations. You will also have the chance to watch your campers relate to each other. Try to creatively use situations that arise during activities as illustrations for personalizing the day’s theme.

Supervision abilities

As a volunteer counselor, you may be asked to temporarily supervise your group while your staff person attends to other duties with individual campers. The staff person may need to pray with campers, take care of first aid needs, gather children from dressing room areas, or discipline campers. During these times a volunteer counselor should keep the group together. Some things you could do during this time to keep the campers occupied are:

  • play a game
  • sing a song
  • ask questions about the daily theme and opening skit

In order to support you as a volunteer, we want to make it clear that we do not expect you to discipline campers. Staff will be responsible for that. They have had training and experience, and know what works well in the day camp setting. You can help your staff person by encouraging the campers to be focused and attentive during activities. Communicate with your staff person about how you can best work together in these areas.

One-on-one time

You may have an opportunity to talk with a camper in a one-on-one situation. Do it! The campers will appreciate your listening ears and loving heart. One of our goals for you as a volunteer counselor is to spend some time with each camper in your group. We suggest trying to do this during swimming/boating time. Sometimes this could occur during an activity, perhaps while walking on a trail or working together on crafts. A cautionary note: while on the lookout for these opportunities, always make sure that you are in a place where others can observe you. This ensures a safe and secure environment for campers, counselors, and staff.

Spiritual growth opportunities

During the week, be encouraged to find out where each camper is in his/her relationship with Christ. You may have the opportunity to share about having a relationship with Jesus. If the camper is already a Christian, try to learn the areas in which the child could grow in his/her walk with Christ. If/when these conversations happen, make sure to let your staff person know.

Follow-through (if coming with campers as part of a church group)

When you return to your church or home, please follow through with each camper to encourage him/her. Let the camper know you are interested in his/her growth. Remember, you may be a bridge between what the camper learned at Tilikum and the potential for continued growth when camp is over.

Additional Resources

Online Volunteer application

Click the button below to go to the Application page.