New Positions for Ondessonk Summer Staff Promote Positivity and Success
By Amanda Bailey
Staff and campers have a week full of activities, cheering and skipping through the trails of Camp Ondessonk. Behind the scenes, there are new positions creating better resources for campers and staff to use and benefit from throughout the summer. From creating a self-care checklist, planning a mini-camp talent show and talking to vegetables, Zach Jefferson, Adam Sanders and Brian Bell are taking the summer of 2018 to a new level.
Zach Jefferson – Inclusion Coordinator (the C.A.R.E.)
Q: Describe your position this summer?
A: “My title has been changing frequently throughout the summer, but this position functions similar to a social worker for staff and campers. I work to be sure that staff and campers can experience and engage in the Camp setting regardless of ability.
I also work to ensure that staff are taking care of their emotional and physical needs by creating new ways and new resources to better care for themselves during the long summer.
With the help of fellow staff members, a library and a coloring corner for staff has been created for staff’s benefit and a resource for them to use for campers.”
Q: Why is this position important for Camp Ondessonk?
A: “A lot of people who have developed coping mechanisms for their daily lives have found that they don’t transfer to the Camp setting well and it can impact experiences here. But we have new resources that are easily accessible in the staff lounge in order to promote self care and keep staff mentally healthy during their time at Ondessonk.”
Q: How do you see this position evolving and improving?
A: “A notable way I see it growing is by having a potential new part of registration that will allow campers with specific needs to identify whether Ondessonk is a camp that will be able to accommodate their needs. Then, I work with campers to help identify how they can have the best experience possible.
After registration, my position would work directly with those families before summer starts and during the campers’ stay to ensure a positive experience.”
Adam Sanders – Mini Activities Coordinator (the MAC)
Q: Why was this position created?
A: “Camp wanted to expand the Mini Camp experience and it’s programming. We wanted more structure and a different feel from traditional weeks.”
Q: What activities have you added to Mini Camp’s week?
A: “We’ve been utilizing the rock wall at Challenge on Wednesdays, split rocks during Woodsmanship and creating different special activities such as food towers, using the new mini camp slide and camper talent shows.
The important change are options. Campers pick what they want to participate in, like traditional camp, but they have more activities to choose from that they didn’t in previous summers.”
Q: How do you see this position growing and improving?
A: “I would like to see a program like Tuesday Night Game in the woods, but specific to Mini Camp. I see the program growing above and beyond within the next 2 years. The ideas we are trying this summer are improving the program and introducing amazing opportunities for mini campers.”
Q: Anything else to add?
A: “The campers are enjoying it so far and I see them challenging themselves and growing in independence that I didn’t otherwise see Mini Campers do in previous summers.”
Brian Bell – Farm to Table Manager (Kale Coordinator)
Q: How did you find this position?
A: “This position was originally not mine. Mid-summer, the original Farm-to-Table Manager had to leave due to injury. And while I don’t have experience in gardening, I graduated with Agricultural Systems Engineering which is the same concept from a larger scale to a smaller scale.”
Q: Describe your weekly duties.
A: “The garden does most of the work, where my job covers maintenance such as weeding, watering, picking and planting new crops when necessary.
Currently, we have 4 types of tomatoes, 2 types of cucumbers, 3 types of melons, kale, chard and a small patch of beans growing in the Ondessonk garden.”
Q: Where do you see this position growing?
A: “I believe it could become a small program for the campers. A big part of what I studied in school was sustainability. Campers can learn about gardening or farming through a self-sustainability program and apply it to help benefit Camp to match Ondessonk’s, teaching what matters most.”
Q: How does your position benefit Camp Ondessonk?
A: “By growing the majority of the produce for our salad bar, we know that we are serving vegetables that are fresh, while also loosening up the funding for the kitchen to make Camp a better place and experience for campers.”