Why Summer Staff?

Teleios Student Katie Brown shares her experience from 2021.

With so many job opportunities, including many at other camps, why should you encourage youth to spend their summer serving at Living Waters Bible Camp? What makes summer staff at Living Waters different from summer staff at another camp?

In short, the answer is because Living Waters is purposeful about investing in the Summer Staff. We train and equip our staff to be ready to serve the Lord both at camp as well as wherever He calls them next.

In 2017 and 2018, Wheaton College Graduate School partnered with several camps to create an ongoing study “on the impact of serving on the staff at a summer camp” and what training is effective in allowing summer staff to be impacted for God’s Kingdom. The study found the camp environment provides growth in leadership, emotional intelligence, spiritual growth, and, as a whole, preparation for life.

Out of these, spiritual growth was almost always the area summer staff experienced the highest level of growth. This resulted in summer staff feeling more invested in the camp mission and 51.2% of staff feeling “tired but not depleted” at the end of the summer. Another aspect of spiritual growth was that peer relationships contributed highly to growth areas and supervisor/higher staff relationships are as equally impactful if there is an active investment.

Many young adults are searching to do something meaningful, something that will help them feel known and valued. In a ministry role, young people want to be a part of the ministry team, to be involved in the mission. They hope to be cared for physically and spiritually, be shown appreciation, and see growth- especially spiritual.

At Living Waters, summer staff starts with a week and a half, getting to know one another and receiving training not just in their jobs but also in how they can effectively play a role in the camp mission and what God is doing at camp. Throughout their summer, they engage in personal devotions, then meet once a week with mentors as a group to discuss the weeks’ devotions and spend time in prayer together. They are also cared for with time off between camps, often spending time with a full-time staff family for a meal and time of sharing, worship, and prayer. They enjoy some quality time together away from camp during the week as well, on the highly valued “Walmart run”.

Each individual has check-ins with their supervisor and evaluations, intending to enable the summer staffer to grow as an individual and in their service in God’s kingdom. The summer staff coordinator also takes time to spend a lunchtime one-on-one with each summer staffer at least once throughout the summer. After the summer camps end summer staff have a three-day camp where they are poured into even more and receive further training as the goal of serving as a Living Waters summer staffer is to prepare each individual for service beyond camp.

If you know camp, you probably already know all this… Why remind you? Because everything the study found is needed for summer staff’s impact at camp and for each individual is given to summer staff at Living Waters Bible Camp. To serve a summer at Living Waters Bible Camp means you will be challenged and invested in with the intention of you becoming more of the person you are in Christ and leave ready to serve as a servant-leader in God’s kingdom.

I am certain there are many young adults in your life that you earnestly pray will experience just that. So now it is up to you- will you join us in creating life-long servant-leaders for God’s kingdom? Do you know a young person who needs to experience the training provided by summer staff?

Article reference: Ribbe and Cyrus, “An Exploration of the Impact of Employment on Summer Camp Staff, InSite, April/May 2017 & 2018 editions, pages 42-49 and pages 36-43

By Katie Brown