There’s an allure to working at YMCA Camp Elphinstone that keeps its energetic staff coming back for more. Even though the beautiful Sunshine Coast facility has been closed over the past two summers due to the impact of the pandemic, Quinn Woollven has been counting down the days until she can pick up where she left off as a volunteer camp counsellor in 2019.
“Every summer, I’ve said, ‘I can’t wait to get back to Elphinstone,” said Woollven.
Once Woollven’s current semester of studies in Acadia University’s Community Development program wraps up in a matter of weeks, the 19-year-old will make the cross-country trek from Nova Scotia back to British Columbia, returning to serve in a paid camp-counsellor role.
As far as summer jobs go, the experience of working at YMCA Camp Elphinstone is “super unique,” Woollven said. That’s why there was no question in her mind as to whether or not she’d come back in 2022.
“When I talk to my friends … when I come back to school, I’m like, ‘I had the BEST summer at camp! I had so much fun, I did this, this and this.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, I waited tables for two months.’
“Why would I choose to do something like that when I have the opportunity to get outside and do what I love for a job?”
As YMCA Camp Elphinstone prepares to welcome back day and overnight campers to its 144-acre, oceanside layout for another unforgettable summer, a wide variety of employment opportunities are available from April through to autumn. Camp counsellors, senior staff, program instructors, kitchen/facilities staff are among the roles still being filled. Each of the open positions provides the chance to make a difference in the lives of youth campers, develop universal leadership skills and build lasting memories and friendships with fellow staff.
Woollven, who plans to pursue a career in recreation, took a job as a kayak instructor last summer. Although that allowed her to continue enjoying working with kids in the outdoors, it was still “nothing like” the experience of being on the staff at YMCA Camp Elphinstone.
“Especially for overnight camps, you get to know everyone in the cabins so much better and it really becomes a family vibe by the end of the week,” she said.
At Camp Elphinstone, Woollven has found a community of supportive, like-minded individuals to work alongside. Camaraderie amongst the staff is infectious, she said, and a huge part of what makes being employed there special.
“Everyone is into the same things in terms of enjoying the outdoors, environmental protection – they're just super open-minded people who are down for anything,” she said.
“You definitely get to meet and work with interesting people from all over the world. Because of Elphinstone, now I have connections in places like Australia and New Zealand, which is really cool.”
Those serving overnight camp positions should be self-motivated and keen to help children build confidence and grow as individuals. Though it may seem demanding to be at work 24 hours per day, six days per week, Woollven said being a camp counsellor “didn’t really feel like a job” because she spent each day engaged in activities she’s passionate about. Accommodations and meals being included along with competitive wages for paid positions are just a few of the perks of working at Camp Elphinstone.
“Disconnecting from the real world is a thing that not many people get to do, but at camp you’re not on your phone at all,” said Woollven. "You're really in your own world and you learn so many hard skills, soft skills – things that really will help you get ‘real jobs’ in the future. I just love everything about it.”
Before Woollven makes her much-anticipated return to Camp Elphinstone, she has words of encouragement for anyone considering applying for this summer’s available positions.
“When are you going to get this kind of opportunity again?” she asked. “When you’re younger, it’s a lot easier to do these things. You have a lot more freedom and aren’t tied down to anything quite yet.
“You have to think: ‘Am I going to look back at my summer and wonder if it would have been fun to go do that camp thing?’
“Take the plunge and see where it leads!”
Click here to access the 2022 YMCA Camp Elphinstone Employment Opportunities handbook, learn more about the positions available and submit an application to join our team.