Our volunteer Camp Counselors is a widely diverse group of caring individuals. Each Camp session is made up of approximately 55 volunteers who range in age from 19 to 70+ years. Approximately 65% of our volunteer staff members return to Camp annually.
What are we looking for in a Camp Volunteer Counselor?
Camp life can be a rewarding and supportive experience. We also realize that Camp is not the best volunteer experience for everyone, since it can challenge an individual's patience, flexibility, and privacy. We are looking for individuals who can live in, work in, and appreciate a rustic outdoor environment, promote healthy personal interactions with campers and staff, and be a positive role model for our campers. Staff members must show enthusiasm for the program and our mission, be flexible to try new challenges, and be able to deal with conflict. We are a team of motivated individuals that have a healthy vision for the needs of our campers.
What are the benefits of being a Camp Volunteer Counselor?
The benefits of being a volunteer at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times® are many. Here are just a few that staff has told us:
- Leadership skills
- Enhanced creativity
- Ability to teach children
- Communication skills
- Group dynamics
- Personal growth
- Appreciation for diversity
- Enhanced participation in life
What is the goal of Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times?
The Mission of Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times® is to create a positive, long-lasting impact on children with cancer and their families by providing fun-filled, medically supported Camp experiences. To accomplish this mission our Camp activities are intentionally designed, and our staff training is deliberately executed to enhance the opportunities for our participants to experience intended outcomes:
As a result of being at Camp, each camper will:
- Develop a positive identity
- Develop independence and self-reliance
- Develop social competencies
- Feel a sense of support.
What are the Campers like?
Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times® Summer Camp sessions are for patients and siblings between the ages of 9 and high school graduation. Our patient campers have or have had cancer. Many have had cancer and treatment in their young lives and continue to attend Camp. Other campers will be attending Camp during some stage of treatment for their disease. The most obvious signs of treatment in campers may be bald heads, medications, general weakness, amputations, or challenges with balance, mobility, vision and/or hearing. A number of campers also face cognitive challenges.
Siblings are the brothers and sisters of patient campers who attend, or have attended Camp. Many years ago, we recognized the need to also serve and support the brothers and sisters of children with cancer. By coming to Camp, the siblings are provided an opportunity to experience the same fun-filled experience. These sessions were created to support other members in the family dealing with the effects of cancer.
Our campers are just that...campers! They’re kids looking for a chance to be “normal." This means making friends, playing games, learning and developing new skills and interests, practicing leadership, decision-making and problem-solving skills, and having fun. Together they make up a diverse group with diverse needs. They need counselors to be their counselor, not their friends. Counselors help provide a physically and emotionally safe environment where campers can feel comfortable in taking healthy risks and accepting challenges on their way to growth.
What is the time commitment for a new Camp Volunteer Counselor?
All new volunteers begin by attending one of our four Summer Camp sessions. In addition to the six days of Summer Camp, all new volunteers must attend the two day Staff Development & Training for their session (the 2 days before their session at Camp) and a New Staff Orientation held virtually at the beginning of Summer.
What is a Camp Volunteer Counselor interview like?
Each year we look for volunteers to join the Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times team to serve our campers and carry out our mission. Our group interview is designed to help us get to know each other. Our interview takes approximately three hours for a group of six to ten applicants. The interviewers are a group of experienced volunteers and paid professional staff of Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times®.
The actual interview process includes the following experiences: introductions (served up in campfire skit style), small group interviews (more traditional “Q and A” time), group problem-solving tasks, and role-play situations. Please remember we have created this process to enable us to select the best applicants to work with our campers, not to intimidate potential volunteers. We invite you to relax and, most importantly, to be yourself.
As a reminder of what we’re looking for in our volunteers, here’s a list of minimum qualifications:
- Desire and ability to work with children outdoors
- Ability to relate to one’s peer group
- Ability to be a positive member of a staff team
- Ability to accept supervision and guidance (coaching, support)
- Good character, integrity, and adaptability
- Enthusiasm, sense of humor, patience, and self-control
- High School graduate or equivalent and at least 19 years of age
- Filling out our Camp Volunteer application completely
What kind of training do Camp Volunteer Counselors receive?
Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times® is committed to providing volunteers with quality training programs to set them up for success at Camp as well as in their lives. Dates for the training events taking place before Summer Camp are listed on the last page. Many different types of additional training opportunities are offered throughout the year, but here are the two events that are most critical for New Counselors:
- New Staff Orientation is a MANDATORY training for all new staff members and is designed as a fun way of introducing new staff to Camp’s policies, traditions, and culture. We will host it before your Camp session on an online group Zoom call.
- Staff Development & Training takes place the two days prior to the six-day Camp session at the campsite. During this time, approximately 55 staff members, both new and returning, will participate together in important training sessions and teambuilding events. Job responsibilities, emergency procedures, medical procedures, program orientation, and Camp traditions are presented and discussed in a fun Camp setting. Staff will also meet their co-staff partners and plan activities and fun for the arriving campers. Volunteer staff members are expected to arrive at the campsite ready to begin their Staff Development & Training by 8:30 a.m. on the first day of the session. The volunteer staff is invited to Camp the night before their session if they choose to arrive early.
After Staff Development & Training days, what do Counselors do at Camp?
For 6 days, 24 hours a day, volunteer counselors play a number of roles to create the wonderful experience we call "Summer Camp." Two or three cabin counselors create a family for six to ten campers, joining in activities, eating meals, sleeping in the cabins, and providing friendship and supervision. Activity counselors are the group of individuals who instruct or assist in the presentation of one or two of the many activities offered at Camp. Specialized training is offered to prepare activity counselors and cabin counselors in their roles. Nurses and doctors volunteer to help provide 24-hour healthcare to our campers. They hand out the daily bandages for bumps and bruises, distribute medications at mealtimes, and monitor the health of all campers and staff. Volunteer support directors are a group of experienced staff members who provide support, coaching, and feedback to cabin and activity counselors.
What are the health care responsibilities of Volunteer Counselor?
Volunteer Camp Counselors are responsible for being aware of the general health and safety of their campers, and they report any changes to the doctors and nurses at Camp (i.e. camper has a stomach ache, does not have an appetite, seems lethargic). During Pre-Camp Training, all volunteers receive a medical orientation that addresses Camp procedures (i.e. medication distributed by nurses, health and care information available to volunteers about campers, etc.), as well as any concerns volunteers, may have regarding the health of their campers.
Where is the campsite and what are the accommodations?
Apple Canyon Center is the home of Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times® and is located in the San Jacinto Mountains, two and a half hours east of Los Angeles and just west of Palm Springs. The site offers pine-filled mountains and meadows adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest. Accommodations are rustic mountain cabins with bunk beds and bathrooms with hot and cold water. Shower facilities are located in or near the cabins. Meals are served family-style and are provided by a professional food service company. Menus are planned with a youthful palate in mind. A salad bar and vegetarian option are offered at every meal.
What are the rules for Camp?
Every community needs parameters to ensure the safety and well-being of its members. Camp is no different. Camp rules will be discussed in detail at New Staff Orientation and Staff Development & Training. Due to the responsibility we all share in caring for the campers, staff members are asked not to possess or engage in the use of recreational or illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, or sexual or romantic relations while at Camp. Staff members are expected to be with and supervise campers at all times during their session.
Will my cell phone work at Camp?
Cell phones have limited reception at the campsite and staff is asked to keep them turned off and out of use during Camp (if you normally use your cell phone as your timepiece, please bring a watch to Camp). We are an 'unplugged' community where cellphones are not to be used, keeping focus on the campers and program. Phones are available for staff use after 11:00 p.m. when campers are asleep for the evening. Camp does have an emergency contact number and urgent messages from home will be relayed to staff as quickly as possible.
What activities will be at Camp?
Activities offered at Camp are designed to help the participants grow in each of our four outcomes. Each summer the activities vary, but they may include: archery, nature study, arts and crafts, sports, swimming, drama, horseback riding, cooking, dance, yoga, fishing, hiking and backpacking. There are special programs each evening for cabins and units (three to four cabins grouped together by age) or the whole camp. Some of these evening activities may include campfires, carnivals, sleep-outs at outpost village and dances. As a staff member, you will help plan and lead some evening activities.
Cabin counselors are asked to participate with their campers in order to help activity counselors facilitate the activities—the more cabin counselors that have fun and get involved, the more the campers will as well. However, sometimes cabin counselors are asked to help with the facilitation of an activity and not be a participant (i.e. adventure, horseback riding).
What is a typical day like?
7:00 a.m. Rise and shine
8:20 a.m. Total Camp assembly
8:30 a.m. Breakfast
10:00 a.m. Activity period one
11:00 a.m. Activity period two
12:20 p.m. Total Camp assembly
12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Rest hour
2:30 p.m. Activity period three
3:30 p.m. Activity period four
4:30 p.m. Activity period five
5:50 p.m. Total Camp assembly
6:00 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m. Evening activity
10:00 p.m. Back to cabins, stories, closing, and bed
11:00 p.m. Staff meeting/fellowship optional
11:00 p.m. Patrol
12:30 a.m. Patrol ends/all staff return to cabins
When is the application due and what happens next?
The applications are always open and can be submitted at any point during the year. After your application is received, it will be reviewed. If you meet our minimum requirements, you will be contacted for an interview in the spring. We would also ask you to have three recommendation forms completed and consent to a background check. We will relay to you the specifics on this when we make that contact with you.
When will I be notified whether Camp will offer me a volunteer summer position?
At your interview, we will notify you of your status within two weeks from the time of the interview. If hired on, we will ask for your session choice and will relay the next important steps in the process to complete registration.
What requirements are in place for COVID-19 (vaccination requirements, testing, etc)?
All volunteers are required to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 Vaccination status & submit proof. We are also requiring proof of a negative result of a COVID test before coming to Camp. You can read more about these and our other protocols in place for summer on our Health & Safety Information page.
How do I apply to be a volunteer counselor?
We are always accepting applications to be a volunteer counselor. We interview & hire for the summer starting in February/March of that year.
If you're referred to us by a close loved one (Significant Other, Best Friend, Family Member, etc.), if you're selected to volunteer with us, we ask that you choose a different summer session for your first time (than one that your loved one would be at). This allows for your own personal, individual unique experience at Camp. Thanks for your understanding with this.
CLICK HERE to be taken to our online Camp volunteer application (and follow the steps below). We will reach out to contact you to schedule an interview if we feel your complete application and background/experience meet our requirements to be a Camp Volunteer with us.
Once you click the link above, create an account in our Camp Volunteer Registration System, and follow these steps to fill out your application:
1. Click the link of your name under "Make an individual reservation for"
2. Under "Volunteer Application", select "Application-Camp Volunteer", and then click "Register"
3. Fill out the Application
4. Once complete, you’ll see a page that says "Order Complete", and you’ll also receive an automatic generated e-mail saying we’ve received your application.