Over the years, we’ve recruited in a number of ways: in trade newsletters; on college job boards, through schools of social work, psychology, medicine or teacher’s colleges; within our camper population; through church organizations; among our funders; and by word of mouth. It is this latter option that seems to have been the backbone of the program.
As difficult as it is to define what makes an excellent volunteer, it is equally difficult to define specifically the things that one is looking for in an interview. Clearly volunteer applicants should demonstrate a level of responsibility, of relevant experience and be able to articulate why they want to volunteer. Whenever possible, volunteer interviews are done in person, ideally by the camp director or program director.
While “hiring” volunteers is different than hiring staff, checking their references is not. We must know what others think of the applicant, their skills and limitations and that there are no criminal issues that impact on a volunteer’s appropriateness for camp.
The Scourge of Paperwork
Once a volunteer is found to be appropriate, they sign a contract, various releases, submit to a criminal background check and have a medical exam done, including receiving a TB test.
Follow-up and Evaluation
After camp each year, it is just as important to evaluate the staff, as well as the program. The direct supervisor of each volunteer provides feedback on various aspects of each volunteer’s work at camp, and gives opinions as to whether the volunteer should be invited back and in which capacity. This information is invaluable on many levels: it allows a director to make
reasonably informed staffing choices into the future, and it provides a
tangible springboard upon which to have discussions with those whose
performance is inadequate.