Welcome David Nirushikan Velupillai to our 2018 summer staff team! David was born in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Last fall, he traveled to the states to attend Eden Theological Seminary. This summer, he will be serving as a Counselor/Activity Specialist.
David grew up in a well-respected Christian family. Growing up, he participated in a variety of children’s programs sponsored by the church. In his youth, he joined the Scouts and participated in camps in different parts of the country. He enjoyed all these experiences, especially the campfires! While in seminary in Jaffna, he was involved in a number of outdoor activities, but especially enjoyed volleyball and cricket.
David has worked with children in a variety of settings. After seminary, he was the director of his church’s after-school program. In this role, he was able to provide young people with educational and cultural experiences that might not otherwise have been accessible to them. David wrote, “As a pastor, I would say that my goal is creating the community for the transformed community of the society.”
While in the USA, he would like to experience the culture of Americans, and see how we are involved in the ministry of children for a transformed community. David’s favorite foods are fried rice and spicy beef or chicken curry. He is hoping to have the opportunity to cook a couple of his favorite dishes for our summer staff sometime during the season. He is also looking forward to working with an international team. Welcome David! We can’t wait to learn more about you and your island home.
Today, Wednesday, May 30, our summer camp program staff officially arrived for nine days of intensive training covering topics such as health and safety, faith formation, activity leadership, behavior management and so much more! They have come from local Illinois South Conference churches and from communities of faith around the world – literally.
Please keep the leadership team, program staff and site staff in your thoughts and prayers. They have an awesome task in front of them! We also ask that you keep our international staff, long distance staff and their families close to your heart. These staff members have traveled from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Wales, Virginia, and Washington (state), and will be far from their homes for three months or even longer. Thank you!
We welcome Rachel Hughes to our 2018 summer staff team! This will be Rachel’s first summer on staff, but she is no stranger to DuBois Center. In addition to attending numerous Mother-Daughter Retreats and ISC youth events, Rachel was a DuBois Center camper for many years, a CIT (counselor in training) and a volunteer camp counselor.
She has experience working with children in other settings as well. She was a mentor for kindergartners, Sunday School teacher and volunteer with Arts ‘n Autism (a non-profit for children and adults with autism).
This summer, Rachel will be joining us as a Counselor/Activity Specialist. She has dreamed about working at camp since she was young and is very excited to make even more amazing memories. Rachel hails from Freeburg, Illinois where she is an active member of St. Paul’s UCC. She studies business at the University of Alabama, is a member of the Delta Gamma sorority, and is on an Ultimate Frisbee team.
When asked about her “favorites” Rachel wrote, “I don’t know if this is my favorite food, but I’m always in the mood for ice cream. My favorite smell is brown sugar/vanilla. My favorite childhood memories are definitely from camp and also from travelling. I’m a huge TV and movie fan. I could go on forever and ever, but I think I like comedies the best. My favorite book is ‘Call Me by Your Name’.”
When asked about a mentor or someone who inspires her, Rachel talked about “Krazy,” her counselor for CIT. Rachel says, “She was just the funniest, coolest person ever. It showed me that even if I have a ‘grown-up’ job when I’m older, I can still volunteer at camp and make an amazing impact on the campers!” (Note: Krazy’s real name is Kristen Kniepkamp-Belcher. She is a high school science teacher in Alton, long-time UCC church member, and DuBois Center volunteer.) Welcome Rachel!
Welcome Rachel Kinzinger to our 2018 summer staff team! Rachel is returning for her eighth summer on staff and will again be serving as a Village Coordinator. From New Athens, Illinois, she is an active member of St. John UCC and serves on the Board of Christian Ed there. Rachel has a degree in special education and is currently teaching at Marissa Jr/Sr High School.
No stranger to DuBois Center, Rachel was first a camper here in 2002, then a CIT, a counselor beginning in 2011, and a coordinator since 2014. She also works throughout the year hosting groups, life-guarding and preparing for our summer season.
Outside of camp, Rachel enjoys reading, watching Netflix, spending time with her adorable one-year old nephew and relaxing in her hammock! Her favorite foods are anything Mexican, gummy bears, Ski and Ranger cookies – a camp favorite. Her favorite movies are Toy Story, Moana, Hercules, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and her favorite smell is the air after it rains.
Rachel grew up on a farm and one of her favorite childhood memories is of showing cattle through 4-H. She started showing when she was nine and continued through high school. That experience brought great friendships, enduring memories, and numerous life lessons.
One of Rachel’s role models is Mr. Hull, her high school science teacher. Mr. Hull was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was a senior. She was amazed by his dedication to his students. He even visited them weekly in the midst of chemo treatments, and kept his promise to attend their graduation – even though he was sick from chemo. Mr. Hull’s teaching went beyond the textbooks. Rachel wrote, “He taught us about the importance of laughter, about dedication, and about learning through mistakes. He passed away a few years ago, and he still inspires me every day to be involved in my students’ lives and show them the same love that he showed me as a student.”
Welcome, Hayley Bell to our 2018 summer staff team! Hayley is from Whakamarama, New Zealand and will be serving as a Counselor/Activity Specialist. Her experience working with children and youth is varied. She has assisted in primary school classrooms, babysat children of all ages, worked as a professional birthday party planner, and served as deputy house captain at school. In this last role, she organized and implemented activities for 50-100 students aged 12-18.
One of Hayley’s references wrote, “She has a genuine care for those around her and her warm disposition puts young people at ease. Hayley has a fun sense of humor and is full of enthusiasm.”
Hayley’s interests are as varied as her experience. She thoroughly enjoys acting and drama – one of her favorite subjects in school. Design, drawing, crafts and gardening are also at the top of her list. She is a self-proclaimed water baby and loves spending time “at waterholes or at the beach.” She also enjoys just spending time with her family and friends, and her favorite foods are Maltesers and Satay Noodles.
When asked why she wanted to spend the summer at a camp in the States, she explained that, after her first year at “Uni,” she realized that she should have taken a Gap year – as is the custom for many students in the UK (United Kingdom) and beyond. She wanted to find ways to give back and serve others for a year, before returning to school. She is also excited about traveling. When asked about one thing she would really like to see or experience in the USA, Hayley wrote, “The culture and landscape differences! Oh! and a large-sized meal where they give you the GIGANTIC cups for your drink!” Hopefully, when she returns home, Hayley will have so many amazing memories and new experiences that super-sized anything will be at the bottom of her list! Welcome, Hayley!
Welcome Jack Lockhart from Motueka, New Zealand to our 2018 summer staff team! Jack will be serving as a Counselor/Activity Specialist and is looking forward to working with young people in another country, making friends from around the globe and gaining new skills.
Back home, he is passionate about serving his community and does so as a volunteer rural fire fighter and a member of the local community patrol. The most important things in Jack’s life are his “friends and family, moral values & respect for others.” Fitness, health and sports are also near the top of his list. He swims and plays soccer, basketball, rugby and cricket.
Jack’s experience with children is varied; he has served as a coach, referee, babysitter, mentor and leader. As a fire fighter, he spends time in and with the community. One of his favorite “kid memories” is actually from a fire prevention expo. At these events, kids climb through the fire trucks and use the giant hoses to put out controlled fires. One child with a disability was watching from the side. Jack helped him try on the gear, maneuver through the truck and even manage the powerful fire hose.
Being able to connect with and include this child was golden and comes as no surprise. One of Jack’s references wrote, “Jack just has a wonderful way he connects with others – be it adults or children.”
Jack’s favorite foods are typical barbecue foods – sausages, burgers, steak and fresh seafood. His favorite memories of times outdoors were from primary and high school camps at Abel Tasman National Park. (Check it out!) His long-term goal is to either go into law enforcement or police work, and a summer at camp is great experience for both.
Welcome Laura Renken to our 2018 summer staff team! This will be Laura’s second summer on staff; she will again be serving as a Counselor/Activity Specialist and utilizing her skills as a seasoned lifeguard.
Laura hails from Hamel, Illinois and is an active member of Salem UCC in Alhambra. She is a student at Eastern Illinois University where she is studying elementary education. At school, she is active in a Bible study group that has helped her to grow in her ability to share and discuss her faith with others. They have also, “helped me a lot with being proud of my faith and not feeling like I needed to hide my faith in order to fit in. I can be proud of who I am and who God has made me to be.”
When asked about future plans, five years from now, Laura hopes to be teaching second or third grade. Not a surprise! Working with children has long been a priority for her. Before serving on our summer staff, Laura was a regular VBS volunteer. She also completed our Counselors in Training (CIT) Program and served as a camp volunteer.
Laura is returning this summer because, “Working with the campers was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.” Her favorite place at camp is Meditation Point. She loves seeing all the stars and the lake at night in a “very humbling place” where she feels “immersed in God’s presence.” In addition to starry nights, Laura loves swimming in the summer and biking whenever it’s warm outside. She likes to doodle, knit, crochet, sing and practice her ukulele and guitar. Her favorite foods are oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, watermelon and grapes – all staples at summer camp.
Looking for a summer job that’s fulfilling as well as resume-building? Love being outdoors and working with kids? DuBois Center is hiring energetic, caring, fun and safety-focused individuals for our summer staff.
Out of our pool of Counselor/Activity Specialists, we try and hire at least seven to eight who are also lifeguards. Our waterfront program is based on the idea that the best fun is also safe, and our staff works hard to ensure that environment. Lifeguarding classes include the required First Aid and CPR training, and lifeguards are paid a little extra over the course of the summer to recoup the cost of the course.
Have you ever wondered why we hire international staff? The answer is easy – because they’re great!
Each summer, DuBois Center recruits four to six international staff members, both through recruiting agencies and from Eden Seminary. Recently, they’ve journeyed from Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Poland, South Africa and the United Kingdom. With accents that make them easily approachable and stories about life in their home countries, it’s easy to see why our international staffers are much beloved by campers and American staff alike. We appreciate the perspectives they bring, the games and songs they teach us, and the unique opportunities they provide just by spending the summer at DuBois Center.