Frequently Asked Questions for Volunteers

What are the requirements to volunteer at Camp Okizu?
Who volunteers at Camp Okizu?
What is the time commitment for volunteers?
Can I volunteer at more than one session of camp?
Where is Camp Okizu?
What training does camp staff receive?
What does a SIBS or Oncology Camp volunteer do?
What does a Family Camp volunteer do?
What are the campers like?
What is SIBS Camp all about?
What are the health care responsibilities of volunteers?
Is room and board provided for volunteers? Is there any fee to volunteer?
What is the food like at camp?
How do I get to camp?
Will my cell phone work at camp?
Will I have time off at SIBS or Oncology Camp?
What is the application process for volunteers?
What is the deadline for applications?
Where can I get an application?
Have other questions?

Q: What are the requirements to volunteer at Camp Okizu?

A: Okizu volunteers should have the desire and ability to work with children in an outdoor setting and should be committed to Okizu’s mission of providing peer support and recreation programs to families affected by childhood cancer.

Additionally, Okizu volunteers must:
1. Be able to meet the time commitment for the program with which they are volunteering;
2. Be at least 18-years-old at the time of their volunteer work;
3. Not be the parent or guardian of a current or former Okizu camper;
4. Meet the essential functions of the position for which they are applying (as described in the New Staff Application);
5. Be willing to comply with Okizu’s background check policies, complete a health history form, and provide a physician’s signature.

Q: Who volunteers at Camp Okizu?

A: Camp staff is a carefully selected team of qualified adults, selected for their experience and enthusiasm for their work with children. Many of the counselors are university students who are interested in working with children. Others are teachers, nurses, and other professionals who have made it a priority to spend at least one week of their vacation time volunteering at camp.

Q: What is the time commitment for volunteers?

A: For SIBS and Oncology Camp, the time commitment is nine days – two days of staff training and seven days with the campers.

For Family Camp, the time commitment depends on the weekend and will be either Friday evening to Sunday evening or Friday evening to Monday afternoon.

Q: Can I volunteer at more than one session of camp?

A: Yes, we’d love to have you. Generally, new staff volunteer at one or two sessions of camp but are welcome to apply for more sessions.

Q: Where is Camp Okizu?

A: Camp Okizu is located in Berry Creek, California. Berry Creek is near the town of Oroville and is approximately three to four hours from the Bay Area and approximately two hours from the Sacramento area.

Q: What training does camp staff receive?

A: For all volunteers, staff training begins with a phone interview. The phone interview is a way for us to get information from you and is also a chance for us to give you a great deal of information.

Once confirmed, all volunteers receive a confirmation packet, which serves as another introduction to our programs. The confirmation packet includes packing list, general schedules, and a ton of information about Okizu.

Individuals who volunteer at SIBS or Oncology Camp participate in online staff training before their time at camp. The online staff training consists of videos and corresponding quizzes and includes a lot of training around working with kids.

Individuals who volunteer at SIBS or Oncology Camp also attend two days of staff training prior to their session at camp (this is included in the nine-day commitment).

Individuals who volunteer at Family Camp participate in an orientation the first night of camp.

The goal of all of our staff training is to make volunteers feel comfortable, informed, and ready to greet campers and families, welcome them to camp, and work with them during their time at camp. During staff training, you will meet the other volunteers that you will be working with. You will also learn skills for working with kids of different age groups. Finally, you will learn a great deal about Okizu!

Q: What does a SIBS or Oncology Camp volunteer do?

A: Most people who volunteer at SIBS or Oncology Camp serve as cabin counselors, are matched with at least one other counselor, and are assigned to be in charge of a cabin group of five to ten campers. Counselors are in charge of the camper 24-hours a day and are in charge of getting them through their week at camp. This includes everything from getting them up in the morning and making sure their teeth are brushed, to getting them to their activities, to resolving any conflicts, to getting them to bed at night.

Q: What does a Family Camp volunteer do?

A: During the mornings at Family Camp, while their parents are in discussion groups, volunteers are in charge of the kids. Depending on the age of the kids, this includes playing games with them, taking them to different activities, etc. In the afternoons, volunteers staff the program areas (the waterfront, archery, fishing, etc.) as the families travel around camp.

Q: What are the campers like?

A: At Oncology Camp, the campers are between the ages of 6 and 17 and have or have had cancer. Some kids will be on active treatment while others will have been off of treatment for ten or more years. The most obvious signs of treatment in campers may be bald heads, medications, general weakness, amputations, or challenges with balance, mobility, vision and/or hearing. Some campers also face cognitive challenges.

At SIBS Camp, the campers are between the ages of 6 and 17 and have a brother or sister who has or has had cancer. Some campers will be bereaved and will have experienced the death of their sibling. Click here for more information about SIBS Camp campers.

Family Camp is open to all members of the immediate family of pediatric oncology patients. This means that kids range in age from infants to older teens.

All of Okizu’s campers are kids who want to have fun at camp. They are hoping to make friends, learn from their counselors, and participate in all of the fun activities that camp has to offer!

Q: What is SIBS Camp all about?

A: We really encourage you to consider volunteering at a week of SIBS Camp. SIBS campers are a wonderful group of kids who are dealing with really complex issues and emotions. SIBS Camp gives them a break from the day to day stress of having a brother or sister who has cancer and allows them a chance to meet and connect with children who are in similar situations to theirs. At SIBS Camp, volunteers are charged with building campers’  self-esteem and reminding them that they are special and important. Click here for more information about SIBS Camp. If you have questions about our SIBS Camp programs, please contact the Okizu office.

Q: What are the health care responsibilities of volunteers?

A: Volunteers are responsible for being aware of the general health and safety of their campers and should refer any questions or health issues to the medical staff. During staff training, all volunteers will receive a medical orientation that addresses camp procedures as well as any concerns volunteers may have regarding the health of their campers.

Q: Is room and board provided for volunteers? Is there any fee to volunteer?

A: Yes, meals and housing are provided for the duration of your volunteer commitment. There is no fee for volunteering but volunteers do have to cover background checking fees, travel costs, etc.

Q: What is the food like at camp?

A: Our food service staff designs menus mostly for kids – there are lots of beans, cheese, pasta, and bread. Volunteers sometimes bring fruit or protein bars to supplement the menu and there is a staff refrigerator to keep this stuff. We are able to accommodate vegetarians and some food allergies, but volunteers who have more specific diets should please bring this up during their phone interview.

Q: How do I get to camp?

A: Volunteers are responsible for their transportation to camp. We encourage carpooling and will do our best to help facilitate this.

Q: Will my cell phone work at camp?

A: Cell phones have limited reception at camp and staff is asked to keep them turned off and out of use during their session (with the exception of their time off). Camp Okizu does have an emergency contact number and urgent messages from home will be relayed to staff as quickly as possible.

Q: Will I have time off at SIBS or Oncology Camp?

A: Volunteers get one hour off every morning (Tuesday through Friday) and two nights off (after the campers are in bed for the night) every week.

Q: What is the application process for volunteers?

A: The process differs for new and returning volunteers.

New Staff Application Process:
1. Read and review the Volunteer Minimum Requirements;
2. Fill out and submit the New Staff Application (includes questions about contact information and employment and volunteer history as well as questions about your experience working with kids, etc.);
3. Have three individuals submit reference forms for you.
4. Once we have your application and three references, we will contact you to set up a phone interview.

Once you have completed the New Staff Application Process, we will review your application, references, and interview, and send you confirmation materials via email.

Returning Staff Application Process:
Fill out and submit the Returning Staff Application. Once you have completed the Returning Staff Application, we will review your application and send you confirmation materials via email.

Q: What is the deadline for applications?

A: There is no set deadline for applications. We accept applications until all positions are filled. Some programs do fill up more quickly than others and there is an interview and background checking process that we have to complete before a volunteer can come to camp so we do recommend that folks apply as soon as possible.

Q: Where can I get an application?

A: Click here to apply to volunteer at Camp Okizu!

Q: Have other questions?

A: Please call us at 415.382.9083. We would love to talk with you and answer any additional questions you have.