The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
At my congregation, this time of year we hear lots of exciting information about spending a week at Bible camp. I love seeing kids who are eager to sign up and even invite new people to join them at this awesome, faith-filled part of their summer. I am blessed to see another side of this excitement, too. As a staff person at Green Lake Lutheran Ministries, I not only get to see kids signing up for camp, but I also get to spend a lot of time interviewing and hiring the young people who are the counselors and staff members who make summer camp so vibrant and impactful.
Working at a Bible camp is not just any summer job. Summer staff develop and strengthen skills that last a lifetime, such as leadership, collaboration, problem solving and creativity. They also experience a deep connection with people and a richer relationship with God. And, they have loads of fun! Working with children and youth all summer has its challenges, but through these long, beautiful, sweaty, song-filled days, unbelievable growth happens. It is a great privilege to walk alongside our staff each summer as they realize the great gifts they have to share with the world.
In recent years, the push for internships and the increasing expense of college has meant that summer camp jobs haven’t been at the top of the list for many young people. But, for all of the reasons above, they need to be! I am certain that there are few jobs that prepare a person for working alongside others, effectively communicating, persevering through challenges, and finding joy in everyday experiences in the way that Bible camp can. The experience is invaluable, and, to top it off, is something our church needs. Young people who work at camp are more likely to be active members in their congregations when they are adults. We need the tremendous gifts of these young people. They can teach us ALL how God has gifted us to work together to share God’s love.
So, who do you know that needs to work at camp this summer? It’s time to encourage them to apply! Camps do a bulk of their hiring in February and March. Ideal candidates are 18 or older. Staff can expect to be employed Sunday-Friday from late May until early August. Generally, staff get Saturdays off. Applicants can expect to go through an interview process that includes reference checks and a background check. It’s important to note that camps have positions for a variety of skill sets; camps need more than counselors!
COUNSELORS | Research shows that counselors have the most impact on a camper’s experience, so if you love to hang out with kids, play games, and show how awesome God’s family can be by being inclusive, caring, and helpful, this position is for you! Great experience for: education majors, recreation majors, counseling and social work majors or anyone who loves to have fun with kids of all ages!
ASSISTANT PROGRAM DIRECTORS | Assistant Program Directors ensure the day runs smoothly and support the counseling staff in various ways. An APD may be tasked with planning worship, preparing for a large group game, deciding the day’s schedule, leading an all-camp game, or helping with a homesick camper in the evening. Great experience for: anyone who excels in leadership positions!
DAY CAMP LEADER | In addition to on-site summer camp ministry, many camps provide day camp ministry to congregations. Day camp leaders head up this experience, facilitating a unique and quality experience at each congregation. Main responsibilities include creating weekly schedules, communicating with church leaders, creating meaningful and fun experiences for campers, and supporting your day camp team. Great experience for: elementary education majors, music majors, people who are effective communicators, people who love to plan and implement programming for preschoolers-6th graders, people who enjoy a new experience each week.
HEALTH AIDE | The health aide is the point person for anything health related, including organizing and utilizing all camper health forms, tracking medications, responding to first-aid situations, supporting homesick campers, and being a positive contributor to the atmosphere at camp. Great experience for: anyone interested in the medical field.
WATERFRONT DIRECTOR | The Waterfront Director will work with lifeguards to maintain safety protocols while campers are swimming, monitor the condition of waterfront equipment, keep the beach hospitable for guests, and lead waterfront orientation each week. The Waterfront Director needs to be a certified lifeguard, and ideally has previous camp experience.
COMMUNICATIONS/MEDIA SPECIALIST | Tell the story of the amazing experiences of camp through multiple media platforms! You will use your photography, videography, graphic design and other marketing skills to create shareable content for giving parents and others a glimpse of life at camp. Great experience for: communication and media majors, photography majors, digital media majors.
CANTEEN LEAD | This position is ideal for someone interested in gaining business experience while having fun interacting with kids! You will set up the retail canteen space, keep track of weekly camper transactions, and track & order merchandise. Great experience for: accounting and business majors, math education majors, or anyone interested in running a business or retail operation.
CRAFT CABIN LEAD | The Craft Cabin Lead is in charge of all the awesome crafts that happen throughout the summer! This person gets the craft cabin organized and transformed into a fun place to be, monitors craft supplies, and gets to participate in awesome ministry through interactions with campers who visit the craft cabin each day. Great experience for: art education majors, art majors, education majors, crafters or anyone who loves being creative!
KITCHEN CREW | Feeding campers is a huge part of each day at camp! Be a part of the dedicated and fun kitchen team, and serve delicious food with a smile each day! This position is great for people who enjoy preparing food, working with a small staff, serving others, and participating in camp life. Considering getting into the restaurant or hospitality industry? This can be a great experience for that too!
MAINTENANCE | Help camps keep their sites in good shape this summer! Assist the property managers with tasks throughout the summer. Typical jobs might include mowing, weed-whipping, helping with minor repairs, and trouble-shooting as needed throughout the summer.
As you can see, Bible camps need a diverse set of people to create an awesome camp experience, and the skills that staff develop can be used in a variety of future professions! I truly believe there is no better way for our young adults to spend their summer. Working at camp has a life-long impact...shaping Christian leaders who understand grace, hard work, the beautiful connections that can be created in community. How much joy can be found when we use our lives to share God’s abiding love and creation with others! How can you encourage a young person to share their gifts at a Bible camp this summer? They will thank you for your nudge the rest of their life!
Associate Director, Green Lake Lutheran Ministries