Our Primary Mission
Our primary mission is that every child will: be shown God’s love, understand the way of salvation, be personally counseled, and be challenged to become true disciples of Jesus Christ. We give solid Bible lessons and creation lessons every day. Campers (and workers) will have great fun while learning apologetics which will demonstrate the reliability of God’s Word.
We work hard to have at least half of STR campers be children who are financially unable to go to camp except by sponsorship to STR. We have learned that approximately 70% of financially needy children are also unchurched and need to hear the gospel message. Our goal is to cooperate with churches so that these children can have ongoing followup after the camp week is over. If these children are discipled, their families will also be reached through their testimony. So if your church wants to reach a particular neighborhood in your community, let us know and we will work to get those children in attendance the week you are ministering.
Our Secondary Mission
Our secondary mission is the spiritual growth of our volunteers. Your group members will be assessed and assigned their positions. Stronger believers will be encouraged to teach something to the children, even if it’s just a verse, so their comfort zone will expand. Some might be asked to teach an entire Bible lesson. Others will have more of a support role, but everyone will have an important role. Your team may not be able to contribute lesson teachers to the camp week and that’s O.K. We want you to feel that your team was able to minister to the maximum of its capability but not asked to do something they were not capable of doing. We just need to know early on whether teachers will be available so we can recruit from other sources if needed.
We have three staff titles: Senior Counselors (called Sheriffs), Assistant Counselors (called Deputies) and Support Staff (those who are either not qualified to counsel children, have not attended training, or due to having a job description that doesn’t require counseling such as kitchen help, life guard, or activity leader). Each team member will have an important position with one of these three titles.
We will give you a tool to assess group leaders on their performance early in the week so they can make whatever corrections are needed in their personal growth. By the time your group members start their ministry week, and especially by the end of their week, we trust you will have a strongly-knitted team.
NEW: Your team will need to arrive at the Ranch on Saturday for the onsite training session which begins at 9:00 a.m. Volunteers will receive instruction and do the activities during training. Wear comfortable clothes and bring your Bible. Lunch will be provided. Training will be completed around 3:00 p.m. to allow time for you to settle in for the week at your lodging. (Note: STR has gravel roads on site. Low vehicles will need to be cautious.) Some of the topics covered in this training will be property orientation (where everything is and how to conduct transportation and activities safely) how to handle discipline issues, the daily schedules, and the example set by youth leaders. This training time also allows our staff, other workers, and your group to get acquainted with each other rather than being strangers to each other when children arrive on Monday.
Your team will begin each morning with a meeting & prayer at 8am at the pavilion and then be on duty from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, doing some cleanup jobs and debriefing until 5:00. On Friday the parent program is from 4-5 pm, so volunteers stay for regular cleanup afterwards till 6 p.m. Then we provide a simple outdoor picnic dinner with swim time and time for lots of conversation and sharing stories from the week of what God has done. Volunteers’ families may attend with an RSVP by Wednesday and bring a dish to share. Your cleanup at your lodging can be done on Friday evening or Saturday morning.
After working with youth groups for several years, we have learned that certain requirements ensure a smooth week for everyone involved. We have listed these on the Mission Trip to STR Agreement for Group Leaders which must be signed. Because we do so much to organize the camp weeks, provide the activities, bring the children, etc., planning your mission trip is much easier than the typical mission trip. But there are some preparations for your team that will require careful attention and timeliness. A local youth pastor who has been very successful in preparing his team helped us come up with a step-by-step list to help you prepare. See these in the link below.
The cost for the trip payable to Strong Tower Ranch is $75 per person to stay on site. This includes the volunteer fee (which includes a shirt), a background check on everyone over 18 years old, lodging, lunch and snacks during camp days and lunch during the Saturday training. We suggest that your group collect all fees from members and make one check out to STR.
NEW: We only have one house available for group lodging in 2017. It sleeps 24 in two bunk rooms. If you have a small group, you may have to share the building with another small group. We have a few full hook-up RV sites available. There are restrooms, showers, and laundry on site.
Other costs that your group would decide include your transportation to the ranch (would be quite negligible if you are from the St. Louis area) and your groceries for breakfast & dinner meals during camp and the Saturday and Sunday meals. One of your adult sponsors will need to be responsible for shopping for the groceries and preparing your breakfast and evening meals; therefore, that budget is in your control. The meals your team will be responsible for preparing are dinner Saturday after training, breakfast, lunch & dinner Sunday, breakfast and dinner Monday through Thursday, Friday breakfast and sides for picnic dinner, Saturday breakfast (if staying until Sat.), and also any evening snacks (campfire s’mores, etc). (At $8 per meal, 14 meals is $112.)
Your team will have access to a washer and dryer (not coin operated machines, so no extra cost) so you won’t have to bring a lot of clothing. Every adult and youth will receive an STR t-shirt, regardless of whether your team makes its own. If your group wants to sponsor needy children to attend camp, the sponsorships are $130 each.
Volunteer Requirements and Positions
We have a chart for you to fill in with your group members’ information and job descriptions and a referral form for you to use to help us place each volunteer. This is an option to use if you know your team well. Or you could choose to have each volunteer fill out the Day Camp Volunteer Application and we can contact them individually to place them. We will need a mobile/cell phone number for members who will be group leaders (Sheriffs). Adults will need to consent to a background check and provide needed information. All volunteers will need to sign the liability waiver.
If adults who volunteer full time for the week have children in their families who are ages 8-14, they may attend camp. NEW: Volunteers have the option to pay for their camper or apply for sponsorship funds. They must register the child online through the usual registration process so we can update the availability for other children. Our camps fill quickly, so volunteers must register their children as soon as possible; we may not be able to accommodate last-minute registrations.
You will be supplied with a document titled “STR Day Camp Job Descriptions.” You will need to look at this list of positions and the number of people needed for each position. If your group is large, you may be able to fill all the positions. If your group is small, we will need to know which positions you can fill and then we will recruit workers for the remaining positions. For example, some groups can bring someone qualified to be the nurse and some groups can’t. Sometimes, more than one position can be filled by the same person or you might want to use more people. For example, you can have a dedicated Bible lesson teacher, or lessons could be taught by counselors. You might want to bring one or two people who will work as “kitchen crew” under the supervision of our Food Service Manager for part of the camp day, and then they would work on the shopping and preparation of the dinner and breakfast meals for your group. The point is, there are many possible positions and there is also flexibility. We will plan a meeting with you to sit down and figure out where to place your team members so everyone is best suited for service.
To see the Group Agreement, Job Descriptions, Group Member position form, What to Bring, and more, click HERE.
Evening Schedule and Activities
You will be in charge of your group’s schedule after each day’s day camp duties are completed (between 4:30 and 5:00). You may use the lake for swimming, boating, or fishing. You may need to coordinate use of some amenities with other volunteer groups. You may eat at the pavilion or in your living area. We normally do not allow tent camping by staff during camp weeks because it causes fatigue and workers are not at their best, especially if it rains. Due to making room for a new building, we are allowing tent camping for 2017 for one group. If you’re from outside the St. Louis area you may want to take an evening or two for sightseeing or outdoor evangelism. Groups have found it beneficial to set aside some time each evening for recapping the day’s ministry, preparing for the next day’s ministry and having group devotions.
Following are the weeks for which we need groups in 2017. We will reserve one of them for your group once you are able to commit to coming. June 10-16, June 24 – 30, July 8-14, July 22-28. The Saturday before each camp is considered part of the week and is a required training day. Sunday will be available for your group to have your own time of worship & Word or visit a local church.
Feel free to call or write with any other questions that will help with your decision.
Day Camp CL/Volunteer Coordinator