In-Depth Training at Camp Ondessonk: Preparing Leaders for a Safe and Fun-Filled Summer

In-Depth Training at Camp Ondessonk: Preparing Leaders for a Safe and Fun-Filled Summer

In-Depth Training at Camp Ondessonk: Preparing Leaders for a Safe and Fun-Filled Summer- Summer Camp Counselors at Camp Ondessonk

By Tony Vrooman, Director of Communications

As the Summer sun rises over Camp Ondessonk, nestled in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois, the sounds of nature are joined by the eager conversations and footsteps of Camp’s leadership staff and counselors. They have gathered for an intense and comprehensive week-long training designed to prepare them for the influx of campers aged 8-16 who will soon be arriving for an unforgettable Summer experience.

Comprehensive Training Modules

The training program at Camp Ondessonk stands out for its comprehensive coverage of a wide array of topics. These are essential for maintaining a safe, supportive, and fun environment for all campers and are unique to the high standards of American Camp Association-accredited camps. Key sessions include:

  • Living & Working Together (Conflict Management) – Counselors will acquire effective communication and conflict resolution techniques, which are not just theoretical but practical skills crucial for fostering a harmonious Camp Community.
  • Counseling, Evaluations & Feedback – Staff learn how to provide constructive feedback and support to supervised staff and campers, ensuring their emotional and personal growth throughout their stay.
  • Camper Progression – Training in recognizing and encouraging campers’ progress in various activities and social interactions.
  • Keeping Staff Areas Clean – Emphasis on maintaining a clean and organized environment for health and efficiency.
  • Homesickness and Bullying – Strategies to address homesickness and bullying, ensuring a positive experience for all campers.
  • Camper Behaviors & Additional Resources – These are techniques for managing diverse camper behaviors and working with children who need additional resources.
  • Care of Equipment and Lost & Found – Properly maintaining and organizing Camp equipment and handling lost items.
  • Confidentiality/Handling Sensitive Issues – Training in managing sensitive camper information with the utmost confidentiality and care.
  • Mental Health and Self-Care – Focus on the mental well-being of campers and staff, emphasizing the importance of self-care.
  • Camp Ondessonk Schedule & Staff Duties – Detailed overview of daily schedules and specific staff responsibilities to ensure smooth Camp operations.
  • Catholic Identity – Understanding and integrating Camp’s Catholic values into daily activities and interactions.
  • Food Handling – Training in safe and hygienic food handling practices.
  • Working with Volunteers & Different Generations – Techniques for effectively collaborating with volunteers and understanding generational differences.
  • Child Protection – Ensuring the safety and well-being of all campers through rigorous child protection policies.
  • Area Training – Specialized training for various Camp activities, including Archery, Handicrafts, Aquatics & Boating, Riflery, Challenge Courses, and Equestrian activities.

Fun and Games

In addition to these serious topics, the training also includes preparation for Camp games such as Moonlight Gold Rush and Marathon, ensuring that staff are ready to facilitate fun and engaging activities for the campers.

Commitment to Excellence

Camp Ondessonk is proud to be accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), meeting more than 300 rigorous health, safety, and program quality standards – a distinction held by only one-fourth of summer camps in the United States. Furthermore, the Camp’s Equestrian Program is accredited by the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), underscoring its commitment to excellence in all areas.

Dedicated and Experienced Staff

The staff at Camp Ondessonk is a dedicated group of individuals, many of whom are former campers themselves, who have risen through the ranks to become counselors and leaders. They undergo a highly competitive hiring process, including background checks, to ensure the highest level of care and professionalism. With a staff-to-camper ratio of approximately 1:8, excluding administrative staff, the Camp ensures personalized attention and support for each camper, and equally, a secure and caring environment for its staff.

Staff members are required to have training in First Aid, CPR, and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Depending on their roles, they may also hold certifications from the CHA, National Rifle Association, American Red Cross, or other relevant certifying bodies.

A Summer to Remember

The intensive training week ensures that every member of the Camp Ondessonk team, with their crucial role in creating a safe, nurturing, and fun environment for campers, is well-prepared. With a strong emphasis on child development, protection, teaching skills, and responsible leadership, the Camp is poised to offer an enriching Summer experience that campers will remember for years to come.

As the week of training concludes, the staff is not only ready to meet the highest standards of camp safety and care but also eager to play a pivotal role in creating lasting memories and fostering personal growth in every camper they encounter. Camp Ondessonk’s commitment to excellence and dedicated team make it a standout choice for a transformative Summer Camp experience.

Click here to learn more about Camp Ondessonk’s Summer Camp Programs.


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