Tulsa Summer Camps : Purpose in Life

Speaker 1: Hello, my name is Michael Staires and I’m the summer camp director at Camp Loughridge. It’s a great day at Camp Loughridge. We are busy getting ready for camp. There are a lot of great Tulsa summer camps. But we believe that Camp Loughridge is the best. We hope that you’ll consider sending your child to a week of camp at– a week of day camp at Camp Loughridge.

I want to talk this morning about something that we’re involved in, and we take very, very seriously at Camp Loughridge, and that is the staff hiring. We believe that we could have the very best program, we could have the best facilities. We could even be blessed with cool weather, and we could have great food, but if we don’t have great counselors, and great summer staff, then, our camp is not going to be all it should be.

We treat our recruiting process very, very seriously. I just want to explain a little bit how our process is probably unique among Tulsa summer camps. The way we recruit, and the attention to detail we put on every one that we hire. First of all, we hire mainly college age staff. College age, young men and women to be on our summer staff. They come in– most of our summer staff comes in for the whole summer. They’re not just picking and choosing different weeks. Although, there is a little bit of that that happens. Most of our kids are in for the whole summer.

We have a leadership team that comes in for a week of training, a full week of training just for the leadership team. That’s a handful kids that will be our head life guards, head counselors, head programmers, head ropes course technicians. These are going to be the leadership among the staff. They’re going to be the behind the scenes leaders. Then, right after memorial day, the Tuesday after memorial day, we start staff training. And we have a week of summer staff training. This is where the whole group comes in, and we’ll have between probably about 70 young people. Mostly college, but some high school. That will come in for training that week.

Not only do we do the training, we’ll go through our staff manual. We talk about policies and procedures, and all of that. But we’ll also– we also do the CPR certification, so everyone’s certified in CPR and first aid. We also have opportunities for kids to get their “Lifeguard Certification,” to get their “Ropes Course Instructors Certification,” to get their “Archery Instructor Certification.”These things all happen during training.

But one of the things that we do actually doesn’t– we do during training week, but it actually starts during the recruiting process. When I send out applications, and these applications come back in, we read through the applications, and we are very careful about checking back with all the references. Every child, every staff person has to provide three references and we check up on all three of those with phone interviews or with forms that references send in. Those are all checked on.

Then, they are scheduled for a face to face or a phone interview. This is probably about a 35 or 40 minute interview that we really take our time to try to get to know what makes this person tick. What is it about them that they really enjoy doing. What is it that they perceive as their own purpose in life? And we’re looking for kids that have a missional outlook in life. Now, let me tell you what that means. This is one of the things that makes us unique among Tulsa summer camps. What is it about being missional that makes your approach different? Well, missional assumes that there are some ministry aspect, there’s outreach. There’s something that– there’s a purpose to it beyond just the earning of money. Yes, it may be cliche to say that we’re looking for kids who believe that working at summer camp is more than just a job. That goes without saying, we’re looking for kids who really have a sense of themselves. That God has given them a purpose in life, and that purpose is to be all about the mission of making disciples. The mission of spreading the gospel.

I’m looking for those indicators in the application, in the interview. What is your spiritual journey been like? How have the circumstances of your life so far shaped you into the person? Not only the person you are today, but the person you want to become in the future. And how is a summer spent working with kids at camp Loughridge going to enhance that, and to put you a step forward.

I want to see what their big picture is. I want to try to understand where they think they’re going in life, and how did they think spending a summer at camp Loughridge is going to help further that cause. Because once kids understand how this fits in the total picture. Then it’s much easier for them to really hunker down when it’s time, when it’s hard, and it’s late in the summer and they’re tired. Then, to understand the bigger picture in that moment. To say “No, no, no, this is why I’m doing it, this is why I’m working hard, this is why I’m going to go ahead and spend that extra time with that little guy or little girl instead of taking it easy.” That’s priceless. Because that’s what it’s all about. That’s how they are able to dig deep. ┬áTulsa Summer Camps It’s keeping their eye on the prize. Keeping their eye on the big picture.

This all starts in the application process, and then continues throughout the interview, and we even talk to some of their references about the same kind of thing. It’s a very intentional thing to hire kids who understand mission and purpose. Back during training week, we will actually train for certain scenarios. One of the things that I really want to do, and I think that this is another thing that sets Camp Loughridge apart as unique among Tulsa summer camps. But one of the things that I really want counselors to be– well, all staff to be aware of, and that’s what I call the big question.

God is like a blood hound, and he’s after our hearts, and he is putting us in situations every day that will reveal our heart, and open our heart toward him. Camp is just an intense way of accomplishing that purpose. Whether it’s the songs we sing, or the schedule we do, or the games we play, or the discoveries we make, or maybe it’s even the heat. Whatever it is, something happens that causes kids, causes all of us really to come to that vulnerable place where we’ll begin to ask the big question.

For a kid that big question might be, Why did my grandpa die? Or why is a leaf green? Or why is it so hot today? Whatever these big questions are, these big questions indicate that their heart is open. They’re looking for answers. Thy’re looking, they’re yearning for that epiphany, for that discovery, for that “aha moment.” They’re wanting someone to help guide them through there. That right there is the reason that we go through, so intentionally, the training with each one of our staff to make sure that they are ready for that moment.

Yes, ┬áTulsa Summer Camps we want staff to be safety minded, and to keep kids safe. Yes, we want counselors to have fun with kids, and to love being around kids. Yes we want them to serve them in every way they can. But the main reason, we’re very clear that the main reason they are there, is to be aware and be ready for that “aha moment” when it happens. When it happens we pray that the holy spirit would rush in, and to really be in the middle of that moment. Because camp is all about those kinds of moments.

In a lot of ways, although we do a lot of great fun activities and we have a lot of great songs and we do a lot of stuff, it’s all a set up. It’s all a set up to get kids to the point where they are asking the big question. In that place we have a counselor, a mentor, a guide who is right there to help them through that. You know what, there’s a lot of questions as you know, there’s a lot of questions we don’t have answers for. But to have a form, a place that’s safe enough to ask those questions, because a lot of times kids feel like they are not in a safe environment, where they’ll be laughed at, or they’ll be questioned, or if they ask what they believe may be a silly question that it would not go well for them. But camp is an open safe place for kids to explore those kinds of things. And that’s one of the things that we’re very excited about.

Tulsa Summer Camps We hire staff that are missional. We hire staff that have this outreach kind of mentality. We’re looking for those kids that really see summer camp as not just a way to spend some time during the summer and maybe make a little money. But a way that they’re actually investing their time. Because they’ve got a bigger picture. There’s something that they’re working toward, and camp is going to be a piece of that puzzle. Working at camp, it’s often said that the teacher learns more than the student, and nowhere is it more evident than in a summer camp experience.

If you know of a young person who is looking for something to do this summer in Tulsa that would give them a sense of purpose, that would show them the bigger picture, that would put them in a situation where they’re thinking outside the box, outside themselves and being able to focus on someone else, there’s no greater opportunity in Tulsa. No Tulsa summer camp that’s going to help them develop as a leader and as follower of Christ, than Camp Loughridge.

I hope that you’ll be in touch. Let’s go to camploughridge.org to find out more information about being on our summer staff. Thank you.

[00:10:52] [END OF AUDIO]