Camp Wojtyla Counselor Applicant
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Camp Wojtyla’s Mission? Our mission is to lead and challenge young people through adventures in the wilderness into a joyful and transformative relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.
What are the prerequisites to applying to Camp Wojtyla as a counselor? We generally accept applications from college students who have completed freshman year through graduating seniors. We also take seminarians in all stages of formation. Post-grads are typically not considered for counselor positions unless they are applying for limited availability experience-based positions, such as a Backpacking Instructor. Please contact us for more information since we may decide it based on each case separately.
What are the dates for the summer, and can I serve only a portion? Our dates are May 26- August 4, 2020. You must be able to commit to these dates in order to be hired. Our leadership program is more than an opportunity to serve young people. It’s a time to be formed spiritually, intellectually, and physically in a close-knit community of staff members. This community is a vital aspect of a counselor’s experience at Camp Wojtyla, and because of this we maintain a consistency and stability in our staff by requiring that each counselor commit to the entire ten weeks.
How many do you hire for the summer? We typically hire between 26-30 college students and seminarians along with 6 backpacking instructors, and a handful of other support staff members.
Where is Camp Wojtyla located? Camp Wojtyla operates on 1200 beautiful acres of land in Jamestown, CO, northwest of Boulder, CO. We lease land from Cal-Wood, a local outdoor education facility.
I’ve never really camped before. Can I still apply? If you have a passion for this mission and a desire to grow, then yes! While we love to see applicants who have experience in the outdoors, we also provide almost 3 weeks of training to help get you comfortable living and leading in the wilderness—many previous counselors have come in with little to no experience.
Do you pay your counselors? Counselors receive payment for their summer of service through fundraising. As a counselor at Camp Wojtyla, you are partaking in our servant leadership program. The counselors receive three weeks of training in scripture, theology, group facilitation, experiential education principles, outdoor skills, and first aid, in addition to living expenses for nine weeks. Comparable leadership programs can cost participants upwards of $3,000, and we are blessed to offer this opportunity free of charge to our counselors. However, we are a non-profit, and ask that our counselors fundraise between $800-4,500 prior to the summer to support the mission of Camp Wojtyla—a portion of funds raised may go towards a personal stipend that includes up to $400 in tax-exempt travel expense reimbursement. Please see the application for more details.
When is the application deadline? The application and 3 references are due by January 31, 2020. We are already receiving applications and we start the interview process in December. Don’t wait until the last minute! Spots fill out fast and we try to make our hiring decisions before mid March.
How do I submit the application? Please fill out the forms electronically HERE.
Who should I ask to be my references? It’s best to have a diverse range of references. They should represent as many aspects of your personality and work ethic as possible. FOCUS missionaries, campus ministers, past youth ministers, and priests are great options if they feel they can honestly and thoroughly answer the questions. Fellow students can also be an option—a FOCUS discipler, a peer minister, a retreat team coordinator—anybody who has insight in to your spiritual journey and leadership. You can ask a non-Catholic (a manager, supervisor, teacher, etc) to fill out one of your references as long as the other two can provide the necessary spiritual insight. The key is to make sure your references understand we aren’t looking for glowing reviews—we’re looking for honest insight into your strengths and weaknesses, and how those would fit in to a greater group dynamic. References that give across-the-board perfect ratings will be disregarded, as they reflect a lack of knowledge and are unhelpful to our decision-making process.
How can my references submit their reference form? Your references will receive a link via email that will invite them to partake in the reference, with the necessary instructions and descriptions included.
What’s next? You will be notified via email when we receive your complete application, with information on the next steps and timeline. Typically, hiring decisions are made mid- February to mid- March. If hired, we will need you to complete some paperwork—a contract to secure your commitment, a signed copy of your application, a fingerprint-based background check per Colorado Child Care laws, etc.
What would my service at Camp Wojtyla entail? The summer starts off with almost three weeks of training devoted to giving you the knowledge and experience necessary to lead our campers both physically and spiritually.
We begin with a silent retreat, and then dive into the details of Salvation History Scripture study, and pastoral ministry skills.
Interspersed are trainings on experiential education, group dynamics and facilitation, risk management, Wilderness First Aid and CPR training, and Leave No Trace principles.
We spend time practicing outdoor skills (including hiking, camping, rock climbing, challenge course, High Line, archery, and more), all while working unceasingly to build up the physical location and operations of camp—setting up our 25 foot teepees, cooking and cleaning in our outdoor kitchen, and organizing and familiarizing all with our gear and program spaces.
These essential day to day tasks are joyfully maintained by our counselor staff throughout the course of the entire summer, even when the campers arrive. In order for Camp Wojtyla to run smoothly, each counselor must build up a personal ownership and responsibility for our shared wilderness home. Daily Mass and prayer time give us a solid foundation for each day.
What does a typical week look like with campers? No week at Camp Wojtyla is identical to the next, but here’s a general sense of our nine-day High School Alpine Expedition Programs: Campers arrive in the afternoon, and spend the evening getting to know their small group for the week, led by 2-3 counselors of the same gender under the patronage of one of our beloved Camp saints. The next two days start “small”, helping our campers to get acclimated through rock climbing, on-site hiking, archery, high line, crafts, and more. The week continues with an early-morning alpine summit attempt, an overnight under the stars, solo time, white water rafting, all-camp relay, Adoration and Confession, and much more. As a counselor, you would be available to and responsible for your group of campers at every hour of the day or night! In addition, for the staff whose gender are not attending camp that week, they enter in to the supporting role of Sherpa Staff: cooking, cleaning, setting up for and facilitating activities, praying, and supporting the campers and counselors in any way needed. In many ways, this is more trying work than when with the campers! (our Middle School program is a lighter version of this example)
How many times do I get to be a counselor? Camp Wojtyla is different than most camps due to the fact that we offer sessions of single-gender programs. When girls come to participate as campers, the female staff serve as the counselors, and the male staff serve as the “sherpa.” This switches when boys come to camp. Sherpa staff are responsible for making camp run smoothly-- facilitating activities such as archery and fishing, cooking all of the meals, driving campers to off-site programming, taking care of camp chores, and constantly praying for their fellow counselors and campers. The counselors’ sole focus is to, with their co-counselor, lead and accompany their campers through the the camp experience. We have 4 sessions at base camp (middle school girls, middle school boys, high school girls, high school boys). Therefore, typically each summer counselor is able to be a counselor for two sessions and a sherpa for two sessions. These roles are alternated for many reasons, one of which is counselor energy. The counselor role can be very spiritually demanding, whereas some find the sherpa role to be more physically demanding. We find that the counselor/sherpa dynamic highlights the complementarity of men and women, and is an opportunity to show the counselors how to love and serve those of the opposite gender.
How often could I communicate with my family and friends? One of the best and most unique (though also challenging) components of the Camp Wojtyla experience is limited access to the outside world. Leaning into this rare occurrence in our increasingly technology-driven lives, we embrace the opportunity to learn together what it means to step back from our devices, and experience deep and meaningful connections with those on the mountain with us. We operate at a remote wilderness location—there is no cell service, and though we have an Internet connection, access is strictly for office purposes (bandwidth is limited and we prefer to preserve the wilderness experience as much as possible). In addition, we strive to take our time of rest and leisure as a community, being available to rest and play with our fellow staff members, so we encourage moderation when it comes to phone conversations when “down the mountain.” That said, we do believe that is important to check in with family, so we strive to make sure you can make contact with loved ones every week and a half or so. In addition, we will establish a PO Box in Jamestown that will allow you to occasionally send and receive letters and packages.
What’s the living situation like? We are a wilderness-based camp and therefore operate with a “thin veil” between us and creation, and therefore with a lower footprint than most typical summer camps. Counselors can expect to literally live outside all summer. In our designated sleeping areas, some prefer to sleep directly under the vast expanse of stars, while others spend the summer nights slung in hammocks between the ponderosa pines or in small tents. During training, the teepees are a great location to get some much-needed rest, but once the campers come the teepees are reserved for campers only due to limited space. While CW is in many ways “off the grid,” the neighboring program has a lodge with shower and laundry facilities that is open to our staff multiple times a week (and is only a five minute walk away). Expect to use porta-john and vault-style toilets on a daily basis. With all of this being said, we strive to preserve modesty and provide all staff with the means and opportunity to feel clean, safe, and comfortable throughout the summer, giving adequate time and space for personal needs.