Junior Counsellor Program
Why this program?
We know that our campers are the ones who love camp the most and who are the most invested in getting involved when they are old enough. We love when former campers can come back and join us as volunteers or staff members. However, the camper experience of camp is very different from the staff/volunteer experience of camp, so this transition can be difficult. We want to set our former campers up for success in getting more involved, so this program will give campers a chance to learn some of the skills required to be successful in a volunteer or staff role. It will also give Brigadoon staff a chance to see them demonstrate these skills in context, which will help us to help them grow and determine if they’ll be a good fit for a staff/volunteer role in future.
Who is eligible?
The last year campers are eligible to attend camp is during the summer after graduating high school. During the following summer, we welcome former campers to apply for our Junior Counsellor Program. (Ex. Camper graduates from high school in 2023, attend camp as a camper during summer 2023, and applies for the Junior Counsellor Program during summer 2024).
Participants may not attend camp as a camper and take part in the Junior Counsellor program during the same year.
Participants may not participate in the Junior Counsellor program and apply to be a volunteer during the same year.
Participants may take part in the Junior Counsellor program for multiple summer seasons.
What are the program details?
This program will take place over three weeks. It will include:
Week 1 (Training Week, June 5-9):
Participants will arrive for a training week to learn intensive skills in Youth Mentorship, Group Leadership, Behaviour Management, and Program Facilitation. They will learn to care for campers and meet their needs in counselling and programming settings. They will spend their days in sessions learning these skills and have periods of hands-on practice where they can apply the skills learned in a group with younger campers under the supervision of a staff member.
Week 2 (Camper Care):
Participants will be assigned to a cabin group for the week. They will build rapport with the campers and further practise working with children, caring for them, meeting their needs, and helping deliver a meaningful and impactful camp experience. They regularly check in with the Leadership Coordinator and get performance feedback to steadily improve these skills. At the end of the week, we’ll give them a sense of their strengths and areas of improvement to focus on when they return to join us again.
Week 3 (Program Facilitation):
Participants will return to camp to be assigned a different weekly cabin group. They’ll have an opportunity to apply the feedback they got during the week before and to get a chance to use their skills with a different cabin group with different needs. At the end of their time with us, we’ll talk them through how they did and what we think their best next steps would be if they’re interested in continuing to be involved.
When does the program take place?
The Training Week for the 2023 Junior Counsellor Program will occur from June 5th – 9th, 2023. Participants must be able to attend during this week to complete the program. Participants can then choose which other weeks of the summer would work best for them based on their availability.
When possible, we will avoid having participants join us for the week of camp they attended as campers (though we encourage staff and volunteers to return to the weeks they feel most connected to).
Where will I stay?
Participants in this program will stay in the staff rooms of the camper cabins with other staff/volunteers or in the staff bunkhouses along with other staff/volunteers, depending on the numbers/needs of our campers for that week.
What about my medical condition/dietary restrictions?
Participants in this program will be responsible for managing their medical conditions. We will support dietary restrictions, but campers will store and administer their medications and be responsible for managing any other treatments required while at camp. Please get in touch with us if you have questions about specific contexts.
What does the application process look like?
The application process will be as follows:
- Applications are now open and close on April 1st, 2023
- You will be contacted after you’ve applied to arrange an interview for the program
- After the interview, we will get back to you to let you know whether you have been accepted into the program
- We will confirm details, including which weeks work best for both parties.
What about the Summer Leadership Program?
This program is designed to be the next step for those who have completed the Summer Leadership Program. However, participation in that program is not mandatory to join the Junior Counsellor Program. Though many of the same skills will be covered, the Junior Counsellor program will explore those skills more deeply.
The Service Weeks of the Junior Counsellor program will look different than those of the Summer Leadership Program. In the Summer Leadership Program, campers split their time between participating in programs as campers themselves with their cabin group and spending time as a mentor with a younger group. In the Junior Counsellor program, participants will not spend any of their time as campers or with campers in their age group but rather will spend the whole week working behind the scenes or in a younger cabin group.
Will I be able to volunteer or be a staff team member after completing this program?
Completing the program will make each participant more competitive in terms of being selected for volunteer or staff opportunities. We will see the skills necessary to succeed in the camp context. As campers, we don’t have many opportunities to see those skills in action.
At the end of the Junior Counsellor program, we will give each participant an understanding of what we see as their strengths and areas of improvement and recommend an appropriate next step.
Can I apply to volunteer or Staff Member without completing this program?
You certainly can. However, former campers must take a summer off between their last summer as a camper and applying to join us as a Volunteer or Staff Members. Completing the Junior Counsellor program is a way to remain involved during that summer, learn helpful skills to help you succeed as a Volunteer/Staff Member, and help us see your strengths in context.
Suppose you aren’t interested or available to do this program. In that case, we recommend that you find other volunteer or employment opportunities to help you build relevant skills that will make you a more competitive applicant in future years. If you would like suggestions for examples of activities and opportunities that we think would be helpful, don’t hesitate to contact us.