AYF Senior Program Director Matt Loper said the camps are focused on positive youth development. “We are an asset-based organization that focuses on supporting campers in becoming their best,” Loper said.
Both camps will offer a single three-week session with two weeks of staff training. Miniwanca staff will work June 11 to July 27; Merrowvista staff will work June 25 to August 1. Interested individuals can learn more at the virtual 2021 Summer Staff Open House on Saturday, March 27 at 11 a.m. EST or Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m. EST.
The program team works directly with campers as cabin leaders, program specialists, program coordinators, and more. These individuals ensure that all camp programs provide challenges, managed risk, and opportunities for growth in a safe, outdoor, active environment.
“Our days are filled with fun activity, interest groups like sailing, sports, and arts and crafts, and opportunities for our campers and staff to be involved with many different things,” said Merrowvista Camp Director Chris Wellens.
Miniwanca Girls Camp Director Emily Knuth said cabin leaders are the driving force in creating an unforgettable experience for campers. “Staff members should be excited and ready to take on the awesome responsibilities of overseeing our youth 24 hours a day while they’re at Miniwanca,” she said. “We are their guardians.”
The operations team helps support a safe, fun summer camp experience. Facilities and maintenance staff assist in the upkeep of dozens of buildings and hundred of acres of grounds. Miniwanca Facilities Manager Chad Warner said one of the best parts of his job is the stunning nature that surrounds him each summer.
“It’s not every day that you wake up to watch the sunrise over one lake, walk along the sand dunes, and then watch the sunset over Lake Michigan,” he said. “If you enjoy working with your hands and working outdoors, this could be the job for you.”
The food program staff creates healthy, delicious meals for staff and campers. Merrowvista Food Service Manager Kim Novotny said kitchen staff learn important professional culinary skills like batch cooking and accommodating dietary needs in a fun, friendly environment.
“Whether you have a little or a lot of experience in the food service industry, there’s a spot for you on our team,” she said. “We don’t always get to work directly with campers, but what we do makes all the difference in our campers’ experience.”
All camp staff must be at least 18 years old, and newcomers to the AYF are always welcome. No alcohol, tobacco, or drugs are allowed. All staff must have first aid and CPR certification, which are offered during the two-week paid training prior to the start of camp. Pay is competitive for the industry and ranges from $315 to $450 each week. Housing for bubble staff is provided, and meals are provided for all staff.
Loper said this year, a seasonal staff member can earn an additional $150 if someone they refer to Miniwanca or Merrowvista is hired. “The person they refer must be new to the AYF,” he said. “There’s no limit – you can refer as many new people as you’d like.”
The health and safety of campers and staff is the top priority for the AYF, and Loper said everyone will take precautions against COVID-19 before and during the camp session. “Running a residential camp program during a pandemic means things will be very different this year,” he said. “You’ll see there are some big asks regarding quarantining, travel, and COVID tests, because we are doing a big thing. It will mean the world to our campers and families that we get this right.”
Interested applicants should carefully review the 2021 Staff Eligibility and Expectations and ask any questions during their interviews.
Miniwanca Operations Director Griffin Vogler said she wants applicants to know working at camp is far more than just a job. “Our staff is a community,” she said. “Folks are here because they believe in what we’re doing and want to be a positive influence in young people’s lives.”