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Girl Scout Day Camp Volunteer Training

Sonoma Girl Scout Day Camp Volunteer Training: Overview of camp operations and beginning orientation for new volunteers.

Darcy McNairy

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of Girl Scout Day Camp Volunteer Training

The Archery station is part of the rotations for Brownies and up. Certified Archery instructors will provide a session of safety instruction on the first day of camp and then the girls will have time to practice their shooting on the subsequent days. Adult leaders are welcome to shoot with the girls if they have room in the range. Specific Archery Instruction will be provided to all unit leaders on our full day training on the Saturday before camp.

Camp is often the only time that girls have the opportunity to try archery, so this is is a key part of our camp experience, giving the girls confidence to try something new and succeed with safe supervision.
Camp is organized into UNIT groups of 10-12 girls (with one adult leader and several CIT's) that take part in camp activities by rotating through stations during a pre-established schedule. UNITS are based on girls GS Level and grade.

Program Stations may include: Archery, Outdoor Cooking, Arts & Crafts, Drama, Science, Woodcraft, Photography, etc.

Cadettes may be offered off-site field trips instead of participating in rotations.

CIT's (Counselor's in Training) are girls in high school that will assist with the leadership of camp operations within units and program stations
Camp Organization
Provide outdoor education
Provide opportunities for leadership
Provide a girl-led experience
Encourage a respect for our natural resources
Encourage girls to try new activities
and of course - to have fun!

Camp Mission
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts is supervised by creative teachers who will inspire the girls with fun projects that they will be excited to take home and share with their families. Girls might do projects in leather work, tie-dye, lanyards, mosaics, painting, and other fun camp craft materials. Leaders and CIT's will be asked to help the A&C instructors provide hands-on help to the girls after the instructions for the projects have been given. Be sure to pay close attention to the instruction time, so you can help the girls perform the required steps in the projects.
The Camp Director and support staff are generally found at the Admin Station. This is where all camp records, emergency procedures, and attendance records are kept. A walkie talkie is based at this station and the Director and Program Leaders can always be reached by walkie-talkie.

Admin staff is monitoring the camp entrance for any visitors that may wander on to the property. All girls and staff will have camp shirts on to identify them. Anyone visiting the camp will be escorted by one of our staff and any uninvited guests will be asked to leave the property. All adult volunteers are volunteer screened by GS NorCal, and provided the necessary training to be a part of the Day Camp Staff.

Part-time staff volunteers should report to the Admin Station for their daily assignment after our opening ceremony each morning.
Outdoor Cooking
Each unit will have the chance to cook a meal at the Outdoor Kitchen. Unit leaders will work with their CIT's to choose an appropriate menu for their unit's age group. The food and cooking materials will be ready for your unit when you arrive on your scheduled day.

Unit Leaders and CIT's will be expected to assist the girls with food preparation, guiding them in safe knife handling, fire safety, and clean-up procedures. Let us know if you would like some practice with these methods and we'll arrange some time to review the processes in more detail. We want you to feel comfortable instructing the girls before coming to camp.
CIT's (counselors in training) are crucial to making camp a success. They are important role models for the campers and should be given leadership opportunities that are in line with their abilities. It is important to remember that they are also young girls and should not be responsible for supervision of the girls on their own. An adult should always be near by, ready to assist as needed. Clear instructions and communication are key to a good relationship with your CIT. If you are not sure she understands a request, just ask. Be supportive, and give them a boost if things are not going as planned.

Behavior Management in Camp
Unit Leaders and Program Staff should be familiar with the difference and progression of the various age levels in camp. If you are a Brownie Unit Leader, but the last time you taught Brownies was 5 years ago, review what to expect from girls in 2nd and 3rd grade. What are they capable of doing physically? What is important to them in a social setting? How do they interact with other girls? This is important to understand so you don't get frustrated expecting too much from your campers. For example, If they can't seem to sit still, it's time to take a wiggle break and get their bodies moving. Brownies will only be able to sit through about 5-7 minutes of instruction, so make sure to break things in to smaller bits of info if needed.
Read Section 5 of the Sonoma Day Camp Manual for more instruction on progression and best practices for behaviour management.
Speaking respectfully to campers and fellow volunteers
Keep the Girl Scout Law at the top of your mind during camp and remember that "Considerate and Caring" is the first law. In order to stay positive in your role at camp follow these guidelines:

1. Know your job responsibilities, practice teaching your skills, don't just "wing it", the girls will be able to tell. Come to camp fully prepared.
2. Get plenty of rest at night during camp.
3. Stay hydrated (and remind your campers to stay hydrated). This will keep fatigue from getting the best of you.
4. Remember that things will never run completely as planned. Have a good attitude and a "well, we tried, how can we do better next time" response when something doesn't work. You are a role model for the young women about how to handle situations when they don't go as planned.
5. This is CAMP. Be sure to have FUN!

Camper Checkout
After closing ceremony at the end of the day, each unit will line up in the checkout area with the unit leader at the front with the sign-out sheet. Only people that are on the approved list on the sign-out sheet can take a camper. Let me say that again:

ONLY people that are listed on the sign out sheet can take a camper
. If there is any problem, flag down one of our admin staff, they will take the girl and the adult aside to phone the parents so you can continue releasing the rest of your campers.

If you have any campers still with you at 4:15, bring them to the admin station and we will call the parents/guardians. Once you have transferred responsibility to the admin staff, you are free to leave camp.
Welcome to Sonoma Day Camp
Camper Overnights
Our CIT's spend the entire week at camp along with 4-6 adults, sleeping in tents on the property. Cadettes will spend 2 nights (Wed & Thurs) and Juniors will spend 1 night (Thurs).

Thursday Night is a special time when the overnight campers participate in a fun evening campfire program complete with Songs, Skits and a special Scouts Own Ceremony. Campfire time often provides the best memories for many girls and is a key part of our Camp. Girls will sleep in large tents with girls their same age. Adults will be located right next to them in their own tents. If you are supervising an older girl unit, we would like you to plan to spend the night with your unit. If you also have a younger camper (Daisy or Brownie), they are invited to spend the night in their mom's tent if needed. All meals are provided on overnights.
Who does what at camp?
Camper Arrival
On the first morning of camp, your campers are checked in at the drop off station from their cars. We check to make sure the girls have all their gear and inform the parents of any missing items.

During the rest of the week, the campers will bring their gear with them to morning circle where they will group with their unit leader. CIT's will be at the circle leading songs until Flag Ceremony begins. Once dismissed to the units, Unit Leaders will guide their campers to the unit area and take attendance. Turn in the attendance sheet to the Admin station as soon as possible. If a parent has not called in to report the absence and a girl has not arrived, we will call the families to confirm the location of the girl.
Camp Traditions
Setting up a Dishwashing Station
The Girl Scouts traditionally use a 3 bucket washing method that is easy to set up and gets everyone through the dish line quickly.

First, get your water boiling on the stove, then set up 3 buckets or wash bins. Add cold water about 1/3 full on the first two buckets, and 2/3 full on the last bucket. Add a squirt of biodegradable soap in bucket #1, nothing in bucket #2 and a cap full of bleach in bucket #3. (just a cap full, not too much!) When your hot water is ready, transfer to bucket 1 and 2, just enough so water is warm, but not too hot to touch. (Cont'd...)

Safety around Fires when cooking
Girls should first remove any items that could hang from their neck or dangle in a fire. All scarves and lanyards should be set aside. Any loose articles of clothing should be removed.

Hair should be tucked away in a pony tail (if long) and secured with a bandana (for cooking safety and cleanliness).

Girls should always be assisted by an adult if lighting a fire or stove, striking the match away from her body, holding the match sideways and then turning on the gas source or lighting the fire starter.

Absolutely NO RUNNING is allowed in the kitchen area or around a camp fire.

When girls are roasting marshmallows over an open fire, make sure there are only a few girls at a time around the fire and keep watch for flying embers. NEVER leave a fire unattended. NEVER leave girls unsupervised near a fire or stove.

Teaching Knife Safety to Girls
Cut away from yourself (in most cases). Make sure you have a wide safety zone around you when cutting.

Keep your body out of the cutting line. Any body part in line with your cut has the potential of being injured.

Always hand a blade handle first and edge facing up when passing a knife to someone.

Never try to catch a falling knife! Let it drop and then pick it up.

If a knife is not currently in use, it should be sheathed or folded, or placed in a knife bin.

A dull knife is far more dangerous than a sharp knife. Dull knives won’t bite into material and are liable to slip when cutting. Also, dull knives need extra force to be used. Using extra force increases your odds of slipping and hurting yourself/others.

Keep your fingers (on the non-knife hand) curled away from the knife when holding the item that you are cutting.

Thank you for volunteering to help at camp. This orientation will give you an overview of how camp is organized and how our volunteers help facilitate the program during the week.

The First Aid Station is staffed by qualified First Aid personnel at all times. Generally these are nurses that have donated their time to be our first aid staff for the week.

Additional safety instruction will be provided at our Full-Day volunteer training prior to camp, and you can read about our first aid and emergency procedures in the Day Camp Manual.

The safety of our campers is the highest priority at camp and we take our safety and emergency procedures very seriously. Our nurses take great care to make sure the Adults are also being cared for as well, with hydration and sun protection reminders throughout the day.

See Section 3 (Health Care Protocols) in the
Day Camp Manual for more details.

Take the tour
Girls should scrape plates and bowls almost completely clean before placing them in bucket #1 (soap & water). Have a spatula and garbage can at the beginning of your dish line for this purpose. Use a scrubby to clean the plates/utensils and then move them to bucket #2 for a rinse. When completely soap free, move the plates/utensils to bucket #3 for a sanitizing rinse. Remove your plates/utensils and place them in the wind sock (or dunk bag) and hang on your clothesline to dry. Girl Scouts no longer recommends using the bag to fully dunk in bucket #3.

Clean your cooking pots, knives, and prep surfaces after all the personal dishes have been washed.

When all done, strain out the water in bucket #1 to remove any remaining food bits, then broadcast the water away from camp, away from any water source, and away from areas that will create mud. After dumping bucket #1, take the water from #2 and rinse #1 again. Then take the water from the bleach bucket (#3) and rinse both 1 & 2. Now all your buckets are sanitized as well!
Outdoor Cooking at Camp

Tajar is a mythical camp creature who loves to dance in the moonlight. His adventures are rich in fantasy and imagination. He can be used to explain away bumps in the night, missing items or other situations in which the girls don’t really need the details to – they simply need to know that…Tajar must be involved!

We have our own internal post office where mail can be sent to campers, CIT's and volunteers. Mail is dropped off at the post office near the admin station and will be delivered during leader break. If your daughter is in a unit, this is a fun way to stay connected to her during the week. It's also a great way to say "good job" to a CIT who is working extra hard.

Camp Opening and Close (including Flag Ceremony):

Each day starts with girls and adults all together to join in some enthusiastic singing, announcements, and flag ceremony. This is an important way for the camp energy to get off to a good start. It is crucial that the adults participate in the songs, goofy antics and general silliness of the day. Closing is the same, we end the day with songs, but also bring the level down by singing Taps, sending tired campers home with an official close to the day.
Even though our Day Camp is relatively young, we have adopted some Girl Scout traditions that are universal to all camps.


We do LOTS of singing. Even if you can't carry a tune, we want you to join in and be enthusiastic. Bring out your inner Diva and join in!
Admin & Support Staff
Admin, Nurse & Support Staff: These roles are the backbone of camp, and are there to support the Leaders, Program Staff and the campers. Communicate any special needs with the Admin or Support staff. Need more adult helpers? Have a difficult girl in your unit? Not enough time in your rotations? Admin staff will help you find a solution or provide additional hands to help you solve any problems that might arise.
Program Staff
Guiding girls in a specific skill or technique, giving clear instructions and having a patient attitude. Leaders and CIT's will be your helpers, but the program area is your show, be prepared to command the attention of the girls. Train your support staff to assist you so they are able to teach the girls after instruction has been given.
Unit Leaders
Guiding and supervising the girls is your main responsibility. The safety of the campers is always our first priority. Allowing the CIT's to have leadership opportunities should be your next priority. A good attitude goes a long way to making a good week of camp. Remember that not everything will go as planned. Flexibility is always the best way to go.

All roles work together for a successful camp
A Typical Day at Camp
Our camp day starts at 9am and ends at 4pm. Volunteers should plan to arrive at camp no later than 8:30am each day and plan to stay until 4:30 (or until their last camper has been picked up). This is a sample* of a general schedule:

9am - opening ceremony
9:15 am - camper attendance and check-in at Unit.
9:30 - 10:15 am: Rotation 1
10:25 - 11:10 am: Rotation 2
11:20 - 12:05 am: Rotation 3
12:05- 12:50 pm: Unit Lunch Time
1pm - 1:40pm: Leader Break and all-staff meeting (CIT's will supervise the units)
1:50 - 2:35 pm: Rotation 4 - Track Dependent
2:45 - 3:30 pm: Rotation 5 - Track Dependent
3:30 - 3:45 pm: Unit clean-up
3:45 pm - Closing Circle
4:00 pm - Campers checkout.

*Schedule subject to change

Giving the Campers our Best
Positive Reinforcement and Recognition
Positive reinforcement is the single most effective tool in motivating youth. It is not easy to practice or maintain.

Verbal and non-verbal forms are effective, especially in combination. A positive comment without the grin and the sparkle in the eye that says “sincerity” is much weaker. Even stronger is an arm around the shoulder. It is important to be specific and sincere with youth.
That's the basic overview of camp. Most of your questions will be answered once you read more of the day camp manual. If you still need help, contact us at SonomaGSDayCamp@gmail.com.

Thanks for helping to make our camp a success! We promise you'll have a great time too.

See you at the next training day!
Hold on, Did you get that? Which part of the camp mission do you think is the most important?
That's right! They are ALL important.

Use your back arrow if you want to review any of this presentation.
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