Prayer is a constant when interviewing and hiring staff. I was continually aware that hiring the wrong person can have a very negative impact upon the other staff members, upon the campers, and upon the reputation of Deerfoot Lodge. With this in mind, I developed a series of questions through which I really did try to scare off every counselor!
1. Do you love the out of doors? You will be living there….walking to your cabin in the dark when it is pouring….perhaps sleeping in a tipi that never leaks unless it rains, and it can seem to rain forever! Rain or sunshine, you will be a role model for the campers you are protecting, teaching, challenging, guiding, encouraging.
2. Do you have really enjoy kids? Are you able to love those who are not easy to love, but have a desperate desire to be recognized, loved, and cared for?
3. Do you desire to be God’s man, and to build godly men? If not, stay home, for you will be out of place. Being God’s man at DL does not mean you will be able to have a 45 minute quiet time each day. Life just keeps coming at you and you are thankful for just a few minutes during the camper quiet time or during rest period. You will learn to pray throughout the day. You cannot fake being God’s man for 11 weeks!
4. Are you a self starter with a good energy level? You, and the other DL staff, will be miserable if you must be continually told what to do! When out of camp no one will be able to tell you what to do. The high energy level is essential because you will be on 24/6 – really! You do learn to pace yourself, but at the end of summer, if you have done your job, you will be almost crawling out of camp – and so will I.
Though his picture was on his application, I was not mentally prepared for this guy coming toward me: ragged Levi shorts with patches, a faded T shirt with no sleeves, a bushy beard, and solid muscle. He looked like a wild man. “Chief…I’m Steve!” My first year…and I had hired this?
Steve learned about Deerfoot through a list of Christian camps – DL was listed as a wilderness camp. At his request I mailed him the 4 page staff application. Through his application and our second telephone interview I learned Steve was 28, a recreation major at the University of Wisconsin in need of working at a summer camp for his field work assignment. When asked what he had done between high school and college, Steve told me that in high school he began to smoke, drink, and do drugs. When he graduated he got a job…in fact had 4 or 5 different jobs and attended 3 different colleges. At some time during these years he attended a Navigator Bible Study for several months and had learned about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offered. But Steve continued heavy into alcohol and drugs.
One morning Steve found himself alone in the woods coming off a really bad drug trip. He quickly realized his “friends” had left him and he also realized this was a good way to die. And as he put it, “no way to live either”. Alone in the woods, Steve asked Jesus Christ to forgive him, to save him…just as he had been told he could do by the Navigators. Steve then enlisted in the army, and upon the completion of his tour of duty, he entered the U. of Wisconsin where he was an honor’s student.
Several weeks into camp Steve told me how, when he first saw the DL sign, he just kept on driving! He was not afraid of much, but Steve was afraid DL would not accept him – “he knew he was older and a bit different!” Steve proved to be golden! His third year on staff he was the Guide leader. He eventually became a youth pastor. Now Steve is the associate pastor of a church in Wisconsin. His four sons became DL scholarship campers, and the oldest, Steve Jr., was a counselor this past summer.
Every time Steve has returned to bring his sons to DL he has driven to the same bridge over the Hudson River he found his first year on staff….to jump down 60′ into the river, just to be sure he still can. Steve Tramp is still a wild man, even as he continues to live In Partnership With God.
(Steve approved the above)