A Note from Yatiel, Winnarainbow Director:
Jahanara has worked hard for over 40 years in screening and hiring all of our staff every summer. In her mentorship and training of me she emphasized “we are taking care of other people’s children and that is a very big responsibiilty and honor”. Sending your camper to live with us for 2 weeks is a big decision for families. We take this very seriously. Over the years we have had parents call our office to ask about our hiring policies, which we are totally transparent about.
At Camp Winnarainbow, we don’t just accept difference — we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it for the benefit of our staff, family and campers. Camp Winnarainbow is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, physical ability, genetic information, age, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
FACT: we have a 95 – 97% return rate. What this means is that out of 150 staff members who are hired or volunteer every summer, 142 of them have been a camper with us, gone through our Teen Staff Leadership program and we know them very well. The 8 brand new staff will be recommended to us by our staff. We have senior staff who return for at least a portion of a summer for 10 – 35 years.
FACT: every single person hired, whether we know them or not, goes through our screening process.
FACT: every summer, every single person working at Camp (including the Directors and year round staff) complete an Annual Background check which includes: National Sex Offender Registry, SSN Identity Trace, Nationwide Criminal Check with a Clean Sweep System that show ALL Alias names. We also run driving records every year for all staff who drive any sort of Camp vehicle (including the Lake Shuttle). We utilize a 3rd party company called CampBackgroundchecks.org. I am a Clinical Social Worker who has gone through training from Child Protective Services regarding screening background checks and certifying people to care for children. I work with my Assistant, who has been trained by me, to review every single record prior to arriving in Laytonville.
Screening: Recruitment and hiring of previous staff is based on any of the following: positive past experience working for CWR, ability to attend pre-camp staff training, experience and/or certification matching the written job description, dates of availability matching staffing needs. Returning staff complete a “Return Staff Application”. They do not need to re-interview as we use previous years staff evaluations as part of the hiring process.
For New Staff Members: When camp determines we might wish to consider someone who has not previously worked for camp OR a previous Teen Leader who is applying for adult staff for the first time, we conduct a panel interview process, check references and an in depth application.
We have been accredited by the American Camping Association since 1983. The ACA has been in existence since 1943 and is our industry’s leading Accrediting body. There are hundreds of standards, which specifically include yearly staff screening process and training, which are deeply woven in to our culture at Camp Winnarainbow.
If you have any questions please feel free to call our office! Toward the Fun! Yatiel Owens, MSW
Our camp program is designed to care for the health and wellbeing of our campers and staff. The majority of our staff are trained in CPR/First Aid and every tipi is equiped with a basic first aid kit.
In addition, our Medical Dome (named this because it is a dome) is centrally located in Camp and there is at least one trained and certified medical staff (RN, Nurse Practitioner, Dr) on site 24 hours a day while camp is in session. Camp’s Medical Dome provides routine health and wellness services, including setting out sunscreen, bandaids, Vaseline, qtips, etc for campers to provide their own self-care. We dispense prescribed and over the counter medications according to the instructions that is on the medication bottle. On a whole we do not provide treatment or perform medical procedures at Camp. For this we transport campers to the local clinic or dentist, to the hospital or ER – all in consultation with you, as the camper’s Responsible Adult.
In addition to physical care we offer mental health support through our every day focus on inclusion and knowing each camper’s story. Each session we have 3 – 5 people, who we call Camper Advocates, whose entire job is to support the campers and staff, problem solve if there are issues, communicate with you if there is something going on with your camper. They are supervised and work closely with our Director, who is a Clinical Social Worker.
If you have questions about how your camper’s needs would be supported at Winnarainbow, please call the office to speak with Yatiel prior to arriving at Camp.
Beyond screening staff closely and regularly we have in place policies around ratios, no one-on-one adult/child activities, complex supervision systems so we are all supporting each other in safe, fun activities.
In addition to our general practices of supervision, ratios, no 1:1, we train and certify our staff in many different areas. All teachers of Special activities (aerials, unicycle, stilts, gymnastics, tight rope) have to pass a series of qualifications in order to be a Teacher of that skill. Each day there is a protocol for checking equipment and the teaching sites to identify any risks.
Our Waterfront has a Waterfront Director and at least 4 Certified Lifeguards on duty at all times that the lake is open. We run drills at least every other day.
We have a team of leaders that support the running of camp, the staff and the campers. At least 3 (usually there are 5 – 7) supervisors are on site 24 hours a day and carry a walkie so that staff has direct access to them (including all night).
Excerpt from our staff policy handbook and staff training:
Safety guidelines and camper/staff supervision ratios have been established for all areas of camp including the lake as well as other special activities (such as stilts, gymnastics, trapeze, cloudswing, Spanish Web, martial arts, unicycle, wrist rockets, etc.). All teachers as well as the Performance Coordinators will monitor classes being taught. Safety guidelines must be strictly enforced with no exceptions. Specialized activities must always be done with supervision of an Adult Staff member authorized to lead that activity. With certain identified skills at camp, the teachers of that skill may determine that a student is “qualified” in that skill. These campers are allowed to practice at scheduled times under general camp supervision.
Supervision Ratios: Staff are required to supervise campers at all times and never in 1:1 situations. There are scheduled staff members on duty 24 hours a day. Check the posted schedule thoroughly and note all of your jobs the day before.
Leaving campers unsupervised or without enough supervision is not acceptable. Staff to camper ratios are:
- one adult staff member for every six campers between ages 7 and 8
- one adult staff member for every eight campers between ages 9 through 14
we use one adult to every 7 campers as the guideline
Every staff is responsible to constantly be aware of camper to staff ratios. When you are out of ratio in an activity or during your afternoon/evening supervision please use a Walkie or a teen staff to help you call for additional adult staff. During classes the Straggler Patrol will count ratios and help you get more adult staff to join you.
Winnarainbow actively works to build a community whose members come from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences. We know that equity and inclusion are an active process that requires continuous commitment and work. Our core values are strengthened when all of our community has voice and we actively engage with each other.
We define our diversity as including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, cultural observance, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, national origin, citizen status, household income, body type/size and religion.
We recognize that each person develops within their own family and environment and that each person’s story is distinct. Each person is unique to themselves. To actively engage Inclusion and Equity we take what we think we know, set it aside and learn from the person in front of us who they are and how they walk through this world.
In putting our Core Philosophies into Action we must:
Consciously work for Camp Winnarainbow to be a Safe Space for our staff and campers who have been marginalized by systems and society.
Safe Space is where our community members who have been marginalized can express, interpret and connect over shared experiences of marginalization and struggle as a community without fear of repercussion or interruption from/caretaking those who benefit from privilege.
A Safe Space recognizes that narratives, trauma and lived experiences are NOT the same for people who experience marginalization and for people who benefit from privilege.
A Safe Space is where people who have been marginalized are NOT forced to do the labor of education for people who benefit from privilege.
As a Camp Winnarainbow community we recognize that we all do NOT come from different but equal places, that the ways in which we can hurt each other are NOT the same (i.e. micro/macro aggressions) and that historical inequities and power dynamics ARE relevant to our work together.
Camp Winnarainbow asks for a commitment from all of our staff that we each engage in our own personal education and work in combatting harmful attitudes, beliefs, language and prejudices. Come ready to Camp Winnarainbow to engage in dialogue, co-creation and learning!