FAQ – Everything you need to know

Attention Returning Staff

How old do I need to be to work/volunteer at an Easter Seals Ontario camp?
Applicants must be born in 1998 or earlier (18+ years of age).

What experience and certification do I need?
An interest in working with children/youth. You do not have to have any experience working with children/youth who have special needs as Easter Seals Ontario provides extensive training in this area. All staff should be certified in CPR or First Aid before arriving at camp. Those applying for waterfront positions must be certified lifeguards with their NLS.

What will my responsibilities be at camp?
Most staff members are either counsellors or program specialists. As a counsellor you will work as a member of a cabin team. There will be between 8 – 12 campers in a cabin group. Together your team will be responsible for getting to know your campers, overseeing their health and safety, solving camper problems and being a positive role model. Being a counsellor is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs at camp.

Program Specialists are expected to plan and lead a specific camp program. There are four activity periods each day and you can run a program in all activity periods. When not programming, you will be assisting in your assigned camper cabin. All camp staff are involved in camper care. This includes feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting, and lifting.

Regardless of your position at camp, caring for someone else’s children is a big responsibility. Easter Seals Ontario requires the staff to be ready to accept the challenge that each day can present.

Do you accept staff or volunteers with disabilities?
We do not exclude staff or volunteers with disabilities. However, because work as a counsellor can sometimes be physically strenuous, we expect that any person working at camp will have the ability to supervise and provide for the safety of our campers.

What are the other staff members like?
For the most part, our staff members are university/college students or recent graduates. Easter Seals Ontario also hires a small number of international staff. Each summer approximately 60 staff members are hired to work at each camp.

What are the campers like?
Camp Merrywood hosts 72 campers and Camp Woodeden hosts 56 campers, all of whom have a physical disability. The most common disabilities are cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida. The campers come from all over Ontario. Easter Seals is very proud that over 80% of our campers return each summer.

Are there any policies restricting my social activities?
Camp is a child’s world, so your adult conversations and activities need to be curtailed. You would be surprised by how much campers ‘pick up’ that we wouldn’t think they could. Children are very observant! Smoking, consumption of alcohol and the use of drugs are prohibited on camp property or while engaged in camp work off-site. Each camp also has a curfew.

What is Pre-Camp?
Pre-Camp is a time to prepare for the camper’s arrival. It’s a time to learn the routine, get to know each other and become a working community. This is an intensive week that will take all your energy and concentration. It is also be lots of fun! There is scheduled ‘free time’, but mostly you’ll be in camp working, getting to know each other, learning your responsibilities, planning for the summer and of course, having fun together. Good preparation means that when the campers arrive, you will be ready. Take some time before you arrive to think about things you can share at camp – stories, games, funny costumes, skits, and songs to teach the group. Think ahead, come eager and ready to share fun!

Where do I live if I work at camp?
Summer housing is provided for everyone who works at an Easter Seals Ontario camp. If you are a counsellor, you will live in the camper cabin on a rotation basis. The rest of the time you will live in staff housing. These rooms hold 2 – 4 staff in bunk beds. As Easter Seals camps are residential camps, all staff must live on-site.

Do I get any time off while working at camp?
Working at a camp is very hard work and it can be very tiring. You are ‘on duty’ almost 24 hours per day. Most days you will have scheduled free time. The camper sessions are 10 days long. You will have 2 – 3 days off between sessions. Camp employees are strongly encouraged to leave the campsite on their time off. Food is not provided, but there will be an opportunity to go into town to purchase some. If you have a wedding or special event, you should contact the Camp Director prior to the start of camp to request this time off. The Camp Director will do her best to accommodate your request, remembering that we need to have enough staff on site to safely care for the campers.

When do I get paid?
If you are looking to make a fortune, camping may not be for you! However, Easter Seals Ontario salaries are competitive with other summer camps. Salaries are based on the position applied for. You will be paid on the 15th and 31st of each month – either via direct deposit or by cheque. You should bring enough money to make it until the first payday, which will be June 30, 2015. You will also receive 4% vacation pay added to each cheque. In addition to your pay, you will receive Room and Board.

Will I have e-mail access and cell phone coverage?
There are some computers at each camp for staff to use and many staff bring their own laptop computers. Both camps have high-speed Internet access. Cell phone reception is good. Some areas of camp have better coverage than others. There are also pay phones at camp. Cell phones are kept in the staff cabins and can only be used during free time. Campers are not allowed to have cell phones at camp.

If I have any questions, who do I contact?
You can contact the Easter Seals Ontario Recreation Department directly at 416-421-8377 or 1-800-668-6252 ext 369 or via e-mail at camp@easterseals.org.