Staff 2

1001374_10201332461130573_1911078334_n  If you’re looking for a rewarding month of fun and excitement, Camp Callahan is the place!

Don’t worry if you don’t have experience working with children with special needs. We’ve designed a training program especially tailored to the needs of our staff and campers. The overriding criteria for staff employment at Camp Callahan is a love of kids and the desire to help someone differently abled than yourself have a good time.





Staff Positions and Responsibilities

Staff positions at Camp Callahan include the Camp Director, a Program Director, a Registered Nurse, the Camp Cook, kitchen assistant, male and female Counselors, a Counselor/Waterfront Director,  a “Floater”, and Volunteers.

The Program Director and Assistant Program Director are responsible for planning and overseeing the details of the Camp’s day-to-day program. The Assistant Program Director is also a Counselor and as such has camper “buddies” each week. The Program Director usually will not have direct Counselor responsibilities except when he or she is needed to temporarily look after a Counselor’s buddies.

The Registered Nurse is a vital person on the Camp Callahan staff each year. As required by American Camping Association standards and because of the special medical needs of our campers, we insure that those needs for campers and staff alike are met through 24-hour skilled nursing care.

Because the campers and staff will not be “happy campers” if they’re not well fed, all meals at camp are prepared by the Camp Cook and assistant cook. The cook is required to have a current Illinois Food Server’s Certificate. Care is taken in the planning and preparation of all meals to insure that any special dietary needs are met while providing the healthy dietary balance needed for the outdoor activities of Camp Callahan.

Camp Callahan’s Counselors are the “troops in the trenches” who are responsible for the hands-on care of the campers. Each counselor is responsible for one to five campers and is their “Buddy” during their one week stay at camp. Depending on the disabilities and needs of the campers, counselor responsibilities may include assisting their campers with dressing, showering, personal hygiene, assisting them at mealtime, and getting them to bed at night. The nurse will inform the counselors of any specific medical or dietary needs of their campers. In short, the counselors assist the campers as necessary in all their activities. An important guiding philosophy at Camp Callahan is that all campers are allowed and encouraged to do just as much for themselves as they are able. Counselors must be at least 16 years old.

At least one counselor is selected to serve as Camp Callahan’s Waterfront Director. That individual must have a current American Red Cross Lifeguard or Lifesaving certificate, a YMCA Lifeguard certificate, or a BSA Lifeguard certificate or the equivalent. The safety and well-being of the campers is the primary concern in all camp activities, especially at the waterfront. The Waterfront Director receives “bonus” pay above his or her counselor’s salary in recognition of the necessary certification.

One person is hired to be the camp maintenance/floater.  The duties include, but are not limited to, garbage removal, help in setting up program areas,  dishwashing, and cleaning details.


The Volunteer Program at Camp Callahan provides an opportunity for teenagers or others to decide if they want to apply for staff positions in future years, or simply to enrich their lives for a few hours or days by helping out at camp. The program has proven to be a major asset for Camp Callahan. It provides additional people to assist the full-time staff and is a training program for future staff members. All volunteers must be at least fourteen years old and are required to sign a Volunteer Agreement that is patterned after the Camp’s Staff Contract. The Agreement spells out the work hours and responsibilities agreed upon by the Volunteer and the Camp Director.

Staff Training

The first week of camp is devoted to staff training, orientation and team building. During camp, the counselors work in teams with their campers and so it is very important the team members have a chance to get to know each other and the other camp staff before the campers arrive. Because of the special needs of our campers, a significant portion of the staff training is devoted to health, safety and care-giving concerns. The counselors learn how to make all of the arts & crafts projects so they will be prepared to assist their “Buddies” with any projects for that camp season.

Because we have found it is vital to conducting a successful camp program, attendance at Staff Training Week is a required condition of employment for all paid Camp Callahan staff.

A Typical Daily Schedule

The Camp Callahan program is presently comprised of three five-day residential “sessions”. The campers arrive between 12:00 and 6:00 PM on Sunday afternoon and are picked up at camp by their care givers between 1:00 and 3:00 PM the following Friday. The staff is off from the time the last camper leaves on Friday afternoon until 12:00 PM the following Sunday.  Staff performing night duty responsibilities will also be given a 6 hour block of time off the following day.  The program director also gives every effort to give all other staff a few hours time off during the week.

Upon arrival at camp, the first stop for the campers and their care givers is the Nurse’s lodge for a basic health check and to check in all medications. Once they’re cleared by the nurse, the campers check in at the tent area and meet their counselor “Buddy” for the week.  We all meet for supper in the dining hall or around a camp fire and have time for the counselors to get to know their campers more personally after dinner.  We end the evening with a treat and maybe some singing and prepare for the first night at camp.

Bedtime is normally 9:00 PM, for our youngest campers and later as our campers move up in the different age sessions.   Each counselor is responsible for getting their campers ready and in bed. Once the campers are down for the night, the counselors are off until 7:30 the following morning. The exceptions are the two or three counselors (one male and one or two females) who have “night duty” that night. Although they are not required to stay up all night, they stay in the camper tent area to assist any campers who may need assistance during the night.

Each day’s activities begin with breakfast in the dining hall at 8:00 AM. Morning activities vary from day to day, but can include archery, rifles,  horseback riding, a walk to the swinging bridge or zip line,  short hikes or walks, field games, boating, fishing or a visit to the Arts & Crafts Shelter. Lunch is served at noon and is followed by a rest period from 1:00 until 2:00 PM (free time for the counselors except for two who have “rover” duty in the camper tent area). Weather permitting, the campers are taken to the waterfront for an afternoon swim every day from 2:00 until 3:30, followed by a soda or juice and a snack at the Trading Post. Daily showers are given to all the campers between 4:00 and 6:00 PM when everyone meets at the dining hall for dinner.

Evening activities vary, but each night has a theme such as “Campfire Night”, “Hawaiian Night”, “Carnival”, “Western Night”, and everyone’s favorite, the Thursday evening dance.

Although the daily schedule is structured for the younger campers during the first two camp sessions, an experimental “open program” was tried with the adult campers during the third session in 1997 and was a resounding success. The campers were allowed to select which activities they were most interested in and most of the program areas were kept open to accommodate them.

How To Apply

To receive a staff application or for further information, contact the Camp Director at the Camp Callahan Inc. office in Quincy, Illinois. The camp staff is hired and paid by Camp Callahan Inc.  You can also print an application here and mail to the address below.  (Link for application is listed above.)

The Staff Application Deadline is June 1 of the current year.

Phone (217) 833-2377 or (217)223-2707

or write:

Camp Callahan Inc.

P.O. Box 5253

Quincy, Illinois 62305.