Whether you are busy in the off-season or not, you definitely are in the summer months and need all hands (and more hands) on deck during summer camp! Take advantage of this quieter time and use it to find, recruit and utilize volunteers for the summer, or even during the off season. Creating partnerships with people in your community will allow you to maintain or improve your facility, programs and even free up more time for camp directors to focus on their job.
Here are some tips for finding and utilizing volunteers:
Don’t wait for them to come to you. There are likely hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who have been touched by your camp and would love to lend a helping hand. Maybe a handful of those people will be pro-active in offering that help. The others, although they have good intentions, will not call you. Hold a camp reunion barbeque this fall and invite alumni, past campers and their families, current and previous supporters. It’s okay to flat out ask them for more help and have some sign up forms. They’re already on your team!
Reach out beyond your immediate camp community. Don’t limit yourself to people within your immediate camp community, reach out to sport organizations, clubs, churches, youth groups and schools. You can offer your expertise as an outdoor educator and volunteer to speak at their events, with permission to plug your camp too!
Start a volunteer group on Facebook or another social media platform. Get your current camp community to join a volunteer group on Facebook, and to invite their networks. This gives your camp an opportunity to post volunteer opportunities, when you need a few extra hands or are holding work bee event. Social media is becoming the main line of communication for people in their teens all the way to senior years.
Involve local youth. Teenagers and young adults are in love with the idea of camp. It gives them the opportunity to try new things and socialize with people their own age. Utilize that and engage with local youth in your community. Offer a free camp training day and invite youth from local churches, schools, clubs and other organizations to come out and experience your camp. Then have a volunteer sign up session at the end.
Reach out to local seniors. There is a large emerging senior’s population in Alberta and many are looking for ways to give purpose to their days, connect with others and support the community. Visit your local senior’s centres or other senior-serving organizations and ask if you can give a presentation on volunteer at your camp. Active seniors make great grounds keepers, kitchen volunteers, supervisors and even committee members.
There are people out there who would love to help out at your camp. Finding them is easy, as long as you make the search a priority. Here are some great resources on Volunteer Recruitment from Volunteer Alberta.