CAMP VOLUNTEER FAQ
One of the goals of Camp Mak-A-Dream is to provide inclusive programs in a safe and supportive environment for everyone regardless of race, religion, age, class, gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
What kind of volunteer positions are available?
We have a variety of volunteer positions available for each of our sessions. We offer four areas of volunteer work: cabin, program, kitchen, and medical. Each role is essential to the success of our program.
- Cabin Counselors / Concierges
Cabin volunteers work with the summer staff in supporting and assisting campers 24 hours a day. Cabin staff sleep in the cabins with campers and participate in daily and evening activities. Counselors also offer continuous support, encouragement and companionship.
- Program/Facilities Assistants
Program Assistants help the summer staff to organize the diverse activities we offer at camp, including art projects, outdoor recreation, and special evening activities such as dances, carnivals, campfire, etc. The creative and enthusiastic are encouraged to apply. Facilities Assistants help to maintain the grounds and buildings so that they are looking their best. Experience with tools, landscaping and building are a plus. These positions may be limited to certain sessions.
- Dream Team
Dream Team volunteers work “behind the scenes”, helping out in the kitchen, dining room and lodge, doing everything from assisting with meal preparation, setting and clearing the dining room and washing dishes. We couldn’t do it without these wonderful, hardworking folks!
- Medical (medical professionals only; MD, PA, NP, RN)
Sessions have a medical team consisting of a physician and 1-3 nurses (on site and on call). The medical team reviews camper medical files, administers medications and handles any medical emergencies 24 hours a day.
What are you looking for in a volunteer?
One of the main reasons Camp Mak-A-Dream is a magical place is because of the people who come to be part of our seasonal staff. Camp volunteers must be at least 18 years old. We look for enthusiastic, safety-conscious, caring individuals whose first priority is the well-being of the campers. We also look for an ability and desire to work with a team to achieve our mission. A background working with children, teens and/or young adults, as well as experience at other camps is helpful but not required. All prospective staff members participate in an extensive application and interview process. All cabin volunteers must be CPR certified and everyone volunteering at camps hosting minors participate in a criminal background check. Medical positions require proof of license/certification.
Do I need to have any kind of medical background?
No. Unless you are hired as a medical volunteer previous experience and knowledge of cancer and the effects of treatments is not required.
How ill are the participants who come to Camp?
Some of the participants who come to Camp are currently in the midst of or have recently completed treatment, however, many others have been out of treatment for years. Participants in treatment are usually the most physically ill; immediate effects may include nausea, lack of energy and appetite, loss of body hair, sun-sensitivity, and feeling of malaise. Participants out of treatment may be dealing with the physical and emotional effects of their disease and treatment that may stay with them for many years. Participants may be amputees or have other physical disabilities, such as vision or hearing loss, impaired memory, speech or balance. Emotional effects vary from depression and grief to guilt. Most often, however, survivors of childhood cancers share a feeling of loss from not experiencing a “normal” childhood. Many of these young people are viewed as being different by their peers and are treated as “special” by their families, friends, and doctors, often making it difficult to relate to others in their own age group. Campers at siblings camp are cancer free and are in attendance because a brother, sister or parent has cancer.
Who makes up the staff of Camp Mak-A-Dream and how does it all work?
Along with the Gold Creek facility, Camp Mak-A Dream has a main office located in Missoula, Montana. In addition to a Board of Directors, a team of full and part-time employees work year-round fundraising, bookkeeping, planning programs, managing rental groups and recruiting campers and staff for the season. Some of the staff work year round out of the Gold Creek facility, while others base themselves in Missoula. During the season, some of the Missoula team shifts and works out of the Camp facility. Weekly volunteers and the summer Core staff help us to manage the hundreds of particpants that join us at Camp each year.
What is the percentage of returning volunteers?
About 40% of our volunteer staff has volunteered at Camp the year before, while approximately 60% of our volunteers return to volunteer at Camp in some capacity in the future.
What are the benefits of volunteering?
Besides gaining practical experience working with children, teens and young adults, volunteering at Camp Mak-A-Dream creates life-long memories and friendships.
Is transportation to Camp provided?
All paid and volunteer staff members are responsible for finding their own transportation to Camp; there is no cost once you arrive. Several major airlines fly into Missoula; we transport staff and volunteers from Missoula to Camp. For those flying in, we suggest researching tickets as soon as possible as travel to Montana can be expensive. Tickets should not be purchased prior to confirmation.
Do I receive any training to prepare me for my week?
Volunteers receive information that will help prepare them for the week, including a Camp Manual and pre-camp questionnaire. All volunteers are required to read the manual and complete a pre-camp questionnaire before arrival. Once at Camp, volunteers participate in an orientation. Our goal is to give volunteers the basic information they need to get started. We view training as a process that will progress throughout the week. We have a well-trained, motivated and enthusiastic summer staff that is prepared to guide volunteers and answer questions as they arise. We strive to give volunteers the support, confidence and knowledge they need to help us give participants the best week of their lives.
What are the facilities like at Camp Mak-A-Dream?
Camp Mak-A-Dream is located in a small ranching community at the foot of the Flint Mountains. Although the Lodge is nestled in the hills, amongst incredible Montana scenery, it is not a rustic camp. We have beautiful cabins, an art studio, health center, main lodge and community/wellness center. In addition, there is a swimming pool (seasonal), hot tub, archery range, climbing wall, sports fields, and zip line. Participants stay in one of four large cabins, each of which sleeps 14-20 people comfortably in two community sleeping rooms. There is a common area with a fireplace and kitchenette and each sleeping room has a handicap-accessible bathroom (with two stalls and two showers). All of the cabins are located relatively close to the lodge/dining room. Camp Mak-A-Dream is a smoke-free facility.
Where do staff and volunteers sleep?
Residential staff (cabin leaders, counselors and concierges) stays with participants in one of the four cabins. Dream team and program volunteers reside in the wellness center or staff cabin. Medical staff and directors reside in the health center.
What and where do we eat?
Everyone at Camp eats together in the main lodge for each meal. Large round tables create an atmosphere of community. Food is abundant and nutritious and is served buffet style. A variety of snacks is also available in the cabins. We do our best to accommodate any special dietary needs for campers and staff.
What is the camper to staff ratio?
In order to create a safe environment for all of our participants, we strive to maintain the camper to staff ratio of at least 2:1 at kids and young sibs camps, 4:1 at teen, teen HUC and teen sibs camps. The role of staff changes for the young adult sessions during which times 1-3 staff members will oversee each cabin.
Do I get any time off?
We believe that time off is necessary in order for staff members to feel clear-headed, energetic and focused. We, therefore, do our best to schedule individual time off (at least two hours) every day for all volunteers. We encourage everyone to take this time to read, rest, exercise or do whatever else they may need in order to feel their best.
What is a typical day like at camp?
We generally start the day together at breakfast around 9:00 am. Often times an early morning activity, such as archery or fishing, will be scheduled before breakfast. At kids, teen and siblings camps, campers head back to the cabin for a quick cabin clean up before moving on to morning activities. These may include a visit to the art studio, horse riding ring or soccer field. After lunch, a mixture of outdoor and indoor activities is offered. Participants might take a trip to the mini golf course, practice gentle yoga or play some theatre games. In addition to recreational activities, young adult participants are offered workshops and discussions focusing on issues of interest such as late effects or grief and loss. Most days campers will join their cabin for a Cabin Chat before dinner. This is a time for campers to bond and talk openly in a safe environment. Each evening after dinner, we plan a special event, designed to foster community and friendship. Evening activities may include a dance, carnival night or a cookie bake-off. The structure of each schedule changes with every group and is designed to best meet the campers’ needs. Kids camp is highly structured while the young adult conference is more relaxed.
How do I apply?
Visit the "Apply" page to register online. We begin interviewing for all volunteer positions in February. We will continue the process until all positions have been filled. We encourage applying early as some positions fill quickly.