Expectations of a Camp SOAR Counselor
Camp SOAR is held at Wesley Woods Camp (WWC), Williams Bay, WI and is an overnight camp for children with developmental disabilities, ages 7-19. The mission of camp is to provide an inclusive and fun overnight camp experience for children who otherwise would not have the opportunity. Additionally, Camp SOAR provides new and fulfilling experiences for the counselors, and respite for the families. A mandatory counselor training is held at WWC for all counselors on the Saturday before the start of the camp season.
Most volunteers are assigned as a one-on-one counselor to a camper for the length of each camp week. The pair are together for the entire week of camp. Our campers require different levels of support throughout the day for; activities of daily living, socialization, communication, and demonstrating expected behaviors. Additionally, some campers may use a variety of mobility devices, be non-speaking, or use a variety of modes to communicate (e.g., AAC device, sign language, gestures, etc.). Additionally, our campers may need support showering, changing, wiping, etc.
Counselors need to be physically able and emotionally mature in order to help
their camper throughout the day for the entire week of camp. The leadership team is always available to lend a hand; never hesitate to ask
Cabin assistants are assigned to a color group. Cabin assistants connect with and support all campers and counselors in their color group with a variety of needs. This includes engaging campers in activities, pairing up to go to the bathroom (never be alone with a camper), running back to the cabin to get something, supporting a camper who is having difficult with an activity, etc.
Being a Camp SOAR counselor is not an easy task. It can be difficult, but you will be hard pressed to find anything more rewarding. Counselor positions are on a volunteer-basis; this is not a paid position. Counselors can receive volunteer hours for their week at camp, one week will earn 144 service hours.
The wooded, rolling hills of the camp facilities include a private beach, cabins, along with a modern dining facility. Activities may include swimming, a magic show, visit from exotic animals, games and storytelling, songs, camp fires and crafts. Each cabin has shared bathroom/shower facilities. All buildings (i.e., dining hall and cabins) are air conditioned.
The minimum age for counselors is 14; both male and female counselors are needed. Counselors may volunteer for either or both weeks, but must commit to the full week and attend training on Saturday afternoon. Training takes place on the Saturday before the start of the camp season; all counselors spend the night and are ready for campers to arrive on Sunday. A background check is done on all volunteers over 18 years; if you are over 18, complete the Voluntary Disclosure page. Not all applicants can be accepted; acceptance depends on experience of the counselor, age/gender of campers, as well as the date the application is received.
The nursing staff is on site at all times, in addition to the leadership team members. All meals and activities are included and there is no cost to the counselor to volunteer at camp. Due to high demand, campers can only attend one session, so counselors volunteering for both weeks would have two different roles during their time at camp (e.g., a counselor may be assigned as a 1:1 counselor week one and a cabin assistant week two).
Typically we accommodate 40-50 campers per week, with more than 130 volunteers total throughout the two weeks of camp. Many campers return year after year, as do the counselors. While being a Camp SOAR counselor might be physically and emotionally demanding, it is also extremely rewarding, lots of fun, and an awesome experience.
Rules and Expectations of Camp SOAR Counselors/Volunteers
CAMP IS FOR THE CAMPER
Treat campers with respect at all time. Talk, play & joke with your camper
STAY WITH YOUR CAMPER AT ALL TIMES
If you need to use the bathroom, ask a cabin leader or assistant to watch your camper
DO NOT TRADE YOUR CAMPER WITH ANOTHER CAMPER/COUNSELOR PAIR ∙ If you are having difficulty with your camper, talk with Tara, Sari, or your cabin leader ∙ If two counselors are assigned to one camper, BOTH counselors share equal responsibility and stay with the camper
BE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES
∙ Get your camper to do the activities-don’t do them for him/her
∙ Do not whine or complain about the activities. They are designed for the campers, not the counselors. However, constructive comments and new ideas are always welcome.
Rest period is NOT counselor free time. You must stay in your cabin unless the cabin leader assigns you a job (i.e. get supplies, do laundry etc.) This is a good time to work on the Talent Show, clean the room etc.
IF YOU FEEL ILL
If you are not feeling well, inform your cabin leader, Tara, Sari, and/or the nursing team, so they can assign an assistant counselor to your camper. You will have an early curfew that night, even if you are feeling better.
∙ No cell phone/texting during the day
∙ No use of headsets during the day
∙ No use of electronic games during the day
They may be used during free time after all campers are in bed
No one has permission to post photos of campers on any form of social media. Even if a parent gives verbal permission, HIPPA regulations prohibit posting.
NO SMOKING Wesley Woods is a designated smoke free environment. No smoking anywhere on the grounds.
WHEN YOU HAVE CABIN DUTY
∙ You are responsible for all campers in your cabin
∙ You must stay in the cabin and be alert to what the campers are doing
∙ No sleeping, listening to headphones, etc. until all counselors are back in the dorm at curfew
CURFEWS AND BOUNDARIES
∙ Counselors must stay in designated boundaries at all times, this will be covered at training ∙ Counselors are not allowed to have visitors without prior approval from Dr. Nancy ∙ Curfew is 11:00 pm
∙ Counselors must be in their cabins by 11:00 pm
∙ Failure to follow rules will result in early curfew or dismissal from the camp
∙ Dismissed counselors are not invited back the next year
NO SEX—NO DRUGS—NO ALCOHOL—NO EXCEPTIONS
WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEARCH, CABINS, BAGGAGE, BACKPACKS, PURSES, VEHICLES ETC, EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING
CABIN CLEAN UP
∙ Each cabin will have a clean-up schedule posted with rotating chores
∙ Establish a clean-up routine with your camper on the first day
∙ Keep clothes (yours and camper’s) in suitcase or laundry bag. Every evening, put away clothes. ∙ If clothes are smelly or soiled, rinse (to launder later). Really dirty clothes should be put in a plastic bag and placed in the laundry box in the common room. Only wash soiled clothes that can’t wait, not the clothes for the entire week.
∙ In bathrooms, wipe down any messes and disinfect. Keep personal toiletries together and store in bunk area, not in shower area
∙ Help your camper clear their area, bring your trays to service area, remove trash etc.
ARTS AND CRAFTS AREA
∙ Help camper clean up after each activity. Put away all supplies.
∙ Make sure craft has the camper’s name on it and place in designated spot to dry, etc.
Interested? Have questions? Email Sari Rieger at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-726-4011