How Our Counselors Are Screened

Counselors are Lake Ann Camp’s front line workers, and key to every camper’s experience. Because of this a very rigorous process is in place to ensure that they meet the very highest standards. The Executive Director, Ken Riley, delegates a lot of assignments to other staff members, but he does not delegate the task of hiring the summer counselors. Ken carries heavily the knowledge that these individuals are going to be responsible for someone else’s children and they need to be capable of caring for those children with the same kind of tenacity that the parents would provide. Lake Ann Camp’s counselor selection process exceeds the standards required by State of Michigan licensing standards, and the accreditation of the American Camping Association. Ken personally travels thousands of miles to interview prospective counselors face to face in their college setting. Interview meetings are not rushed and they focus on the character of the prospect. Questions asked seek to understand the heart of the candidate. Here are just three of those questions:


  • When you get to the end of your life, someone will write an epitaph for your life, what would you want them to say?
  • When people look at you they develop a first impression that is not always accurate- who is the real you that people may overlook?
  • When you were growing up your parents were teaching you life principles to live by – what did they teach that you know is a part of who you are today?


At the end of the interview Ken rates the candidate on three criteria: 1). Heart for God. 2). Heart for People. 3). An ability to influence (as demonstrated by activities candidate is already involved in where they are influencing others for positive outcomes).


Besides the face to face interview, a candidate must also fill out an extensive application. Key questions in the application relate to beliefs, experiences, preferences and even the kinds of movies a candidate chooses to watch. Lake Ann Camp conducts a criminal background check, and even inquires about a prospect’s driving record. Another key area explored relates to how an applicant interacts with his or her own parents and the kind of respect they have for them. In the hiring process, Ken reviews the answers given in the interview with the ones provided on the application to analyze patterns and find marks of consistency.


Once the interview has been conducted, and the application is complete, it is then time to match the findings with references. Questions asked in this process are personal and revealing. These people know the applicant well and they help further clarify if this prospective counselor truly does love God, love people and live their lives intentionally enough to already be making a difference in a others lives. The state of Michigan requires that we follow up with at least three references but Lake Ann Camp requires five. Counselor files are not even reviewed until these references are in hand.


When all three of these processes produce the kind of character Lake Ann is looking for the candidate receives a phone call from Ken to ensure that their desire to be at Lake Ann Camp is truly where their heart is and that they are ready to commit to the level of challenge we offer. It is almost a process of asking if they are truly ready to put their own personal interests on the back burner for the summer. It is the final – are you sure you are up to this challenge?  If the answer is yes, a formal contract is signed. The training process begins with pre-arrival assignments that prepare the counselor to be an impact player for Christ!