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Each summer 1,700 youth and adults from over 150 churches participate in our Summer Programs. For the summer of 2018, we have five site locations throughout Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona. We offer week-long sessions beginning July 1, 2018. Last summer, teenagers completed over 100 projects on homes and community centers. Outside of work projects, youth share in worship and explore the culture of the communities where they are serving. Two of the sites are located in Native American communities, two in rural communities, and one in an urban community.

Our mission is to enable youth to:

Build faith and strengthen communities through service to others.

Common to all SSP programs is service to the elderly, poor and marginalized. Our service is offered without strings attached and is done with an attitude of respect and humility.

Download and review the 2018 Summer Information Packet.

Thank you for signing up to participate as an adult counselor with Sierra Service Project. We realize many of you are using vacation time to attend; we’ll do our best to make this a rewarding experience for you too. We could not do the work that we do without dedicated adults like you! Part of our job is ensuring you feel prepared to serve and lead alongside our staff.

Learn More About Adult Counselors at SSP's Summer Programs

Adult Counselors

Youth are accompanied by adult counselors in a ratio of one adult for every four youth (1:4) for high school and combined programs, and one adult for every three or four youth (1:3 or 1:4) for middle school programs. Counselors are a key element for a successful week for your group.

Counselors must be at least 23 years old and be chosen for maturity and role modeling capabilities; those younger than 23 must be cleared and approved by the SSP office in advance.


Counselor Paperwork

In order to protect the youth that we serve, we require adult counselors to complete a set of online forms, which will be sent to the email address your liaison provides us in MySSP. All online forms are due by June 1, to give us ample time to process them prior to volunteers’ arrival on site. Please allow plenty of time to complete all these items prior to the due date, as background screenings often take several weeks to be run, verified, and processed.

Be sure to have all online volunteer forms – for both youth and adults – completed by June 1st on MySSP. Please do not submit any Medical History & Release Forms to the office. These only need to be brought to your site and turned in upon your arrival.


Online Counselor Training

We ask that adult counselors new to SSP complete Online Counselor Training. You will be sent a link for this training in the month of May.


Counselor Forms and Background Screening

SSP requires that all counselors have successfully undergone a National Criminal Background Check in the past two years. If you have been background checked since June 2016, you do not need to be checked again, but do need to complete the Verification of Current Background Screening form.

If you have not been checked since June 2016, you can either have your church, employer, or SSP run a background check on you. SSP has partnered with a national screening company called IntelliCorp which has developed an online portal system that is currently used by the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. This system is less expensive than others and alleviates concerns about sending personal information through the mail, as well as eliminates most of the processing work for our office staff. Screenings start at $19.95 and may have  additional costs based upon what county records are required to be pulled.

Complete a background check now.

Password: counselor

You must undergo a background check by June 1, 2018 if you haven’t been checked since June 2016.

2017 Dates

  • Week 1: July 1 – 7
  • Week 2: July 8 – July 14
  • Week 3: July 15 – July 21
  • Week 4: July 22 – July 28
  • Week 5: July 29 – August 4
  • Week 6: August 5 – August 11

High School and Combined High School and Middle School sessions begin on Sunday afternoon and end on Saturday morning. Middle School sessions end on Friday morning.

View the current availability.

Program Schedule

 

Who Participates

Church Youth Groups

Church youth groups from all over the US travel to one of the summer sites for an unforgettable week of serving, learning, worship and fellowship. Groups from United Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches are a part of SSP’s network. We are an interdenominational program that has an affiliation with the United Methodist Church. SSP is open to all churches.

No group is too small! One youth and one adult makes a group. Some churches send multiple groups to different SSP sessions due to their schedule limitations or because they have a large group.

Age of Participants

High School sessions: Youth entering the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades in Fall 2018 and 2018 high school graduates are all welcome to participate.

Middle School sessions: Youth entering the 6th, 7th and 8th grades in Fall 2018 are all welcome to participate. Youth entering 9th grade can participate in high school or middle school sessions.

Combined High School and Middle School sessions: Youth entering the 6th grade in Fall 2018 through 2018 high school graduates are all welcome to participate.

Dedication to a Small Group Size

SSP is dedicated to creating a small group environment at our service projects, with an average of 60 participants each week. A smaller group creates a more intimate setting where youth are safe to grow in their faith, create many new friendships and experience love and acceptance. We intentionally mix the groups that come into different work teams which helps build community among church groups.

Service Work

For the most part, we work on the homes in the communities we serve. The type of work includes roofing, building wheelchair ramps and porches, painting and other general home repairs. No construction experience is needed, and you’ll be amazed at all of the work that your youth teams complete!

Occasionally, our teams work on churches, community buildings, and schools in the communities that host us. In addition, we will sometimes participate in other types of community service activities like community gardens when there is a need and the work is appropriate for youth work teams.

Most projects take longer to complete than your week at SSP so you may see the beginning, middle or end of a project.

We upload photos regularly on our facebook page, follow us to stay connected!

Safety and Supervision

Safety of every type – physical, spiritual, and emotional – is our top priority. We want each youth to have the best possible experience so we create an environment dedicated to safety, adequate rest, nutritious meals and snacks, and lots of emotional and spiritual support.

Each week begins with hands-on tool training before anyone begins service work.

SSP Staff

Site locations are staffed by a team of mature young adults and are made of a Site Director, Spiritual Life Coordinator, three Construction Team members and two Food Service Coordinators. Three sites this summer will have an extra staff member. They are trained and present at the site for the entire summer, working with the community to provide quality service opportunities.

The Staff participates in a ten-day training which consists of hands-on job specific training, sessions on leadership, conflict resolution, youth ministry, and cultural sensitivity among others. This training equips these young adults to be prepared for difficult situations that they may encounter over the summer.

Learn more about SSP’s young adult staff.

Vehicles

At site, groups will need to provide their own transportation to and from the work sites each day. Because work teams are composed of six to eight people, minivans and cars work best. Our policy and the law requires that seat belts be used by all occupants. 15-Passenger vans have been shown to be very unsafe. We strongly urge you not to use these vehicles.

Van Rental Information

SSP has been able to arrange for a special discounted rate with Enterprise Rent-A-Car for the rental of vans for your trip to SSP this summer. If you choose to take advantage of this, you need to remember that this arrangement is between you and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. SSP can take no responsibility for reservation problems or any other problems that might arise.

To take advantage of these rates

Call: 1-800-Rent-A-Car or 1-800-736-8222
Or visit www.enterprise.com
Corporate Account Number: 30C2900

On the Enterprise website, all on the first page, enter your dates and location as well as the Corporate Account Number under “Account Number.” This will give you the availability and rates for all vehicles.

Recommendation

Regardless of where you rent your vans, we strongly advise you to call one week ahead of your pick-up date and the day before to verify that your reservation is intact and your vehicles are there.

Fees

The fees cover all accommodations, meals, program supplies, building materials and tools, a T-shirt for each participant and supplemental health insurance (excess coverage only).

Scholarships

In 2017, SSP awarded $34,860 in scholarships to 248 participants in need. We hope to do the same in 2018. Our commitment is that no youth should be excluded from participating due to lack of money. This fund will be used to lower the second and final payment by the needed amount. Complete the Group Scholarship Application Form to explain your group’s needs before January 15th to receive priority.

2018 Summer Downloads

Typical Daily Schedules

Most days at SSP consist of a full day of service work, team building activities, singing, sharing homemade meals together, reflecting on the experience, and a spiritual program centered around the summer theme.

High School

  • 7:00 AM Wake up and get ready (the day may start earlier depending on the site and heat index)
  • 7:30 AM Spiritual awakening (optional) to get centered for the day
  • 8:00 AM Breakfast
  • 8:30 AM Community service opportunities (cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, etc.)
  • 9:00 AM Arrive at work site, begin service work
  • Noon Lunch and Spiritual Sandwiches (group discussion) at work site
  • 1:00 PM Resume service work
  • 4:00 PM Return to site, clean and store tools, shower, free time. Free time is spent at the location where we are housed and includes sports, crafts, cards, snacks and hanging out with new friends!
  • 5:00 PM Staff/counselor meeting – adults meet with staff to discuss joys, concerns, and plans for the next 24 hours.
  • 5:45 PM Dinner
  • 6:30 PM Community service opportunities (cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, etc.)
  • 7:00 PM Song time and evening program which consists of team building activities, work site reports, spiritual programing related to our summer theme and handing out mail.
  • 9:00 PM Free time. Volunteers prepare for bed.
  • 9:45 PM Evening worship led by a work team
  • 10:00 PM Lights out. We have separate sleeping areas for each gender. The work we do is hard labor and everyone needs to get a good night of sleep.

Middle School

  • 7:00 AM Wake up and get ready (the day may start earlier depending on the site and heat index)
  • 7:30 AM Morning Program
  • 8:00 AM Breakfast
  • 8:30 AM Community service opportunities (cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, etc.)
  • 9:30 AM Arrive at work site, begin service work
  • Noon Lunch and Spiritual Sandwiches (group discussion) at work site
  • 1:00 PM Resume service work
  • 3:00 PM Return to site, clean and store tools, shower, free time. Free time is spent at the location where we are housed, and includes guided games and activities.
  • 5:00 PM Staff/counselor meeting – adults meet with staff to discuss joys, concerns, and plans for the next 24 hours.
  • 5:45 PM Dinner
  • 6:30 PM Community service opportunities (cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, etc.)
  • 7:00 PM Song time, work site reports and handing out mailEvening program,which consists of team building activities and spiritual programing related to our summer theme.
  • 8:00 PM Volunteers prepare for bed.
  • 8:30 PM Evening devotion led by a work team
  • 9:00 PM Lights out. We have separate sleeping areas for each gender. The work we do is hard labor and everyone needs to get a good night of sleep.

Combined Program Changes:

  • 3-4:00 PM Middle school teams return earlier than high school teams. Free time is spent at the location where we are housed. There will be optional guided games and activities for youth.
  • 8:30 PM Free time. Volunteers prepare for bed.
  • 9:00 PM Optional Evening worship led by a work team
  • 10:00 PM Lights out. We have separate sleeping areas for each age group to allow for earlier bedtimes if desired, as well as for each gender.

High School & Combined Programs

Sunday

Arrive 2:00 to 4:00 PM, orientation, staff / adult counselor meeting, assign work teams

Monday

Hands-on tool training, half day service at work site, evening program

Tuesday

Service at work site all day, cross-cultural evening program

Wednesday

Adventure Wednesday: community service activity as a full group or activities to learn about the site location, recreation in the afternoon and BBQ dinner, evening program

Thursday

Service at work site all day, off-site evening program

Friday

Service at work site all day, closing celebrations

Saturday

Pack up, clean site, breakfast, closing circle, depart

Middle School Program

Sunday

Arrive 2:00 to 4:00 PM, orientation, staff / adult counselor meeting, assign work teams

Monday

Hands-on tool training, half day service at work site, evening program

Tuesday

Service at work site all day, cross-cultural evening program

Wednesday

Service at work site all day, evening program

Thursday

Half day of service, afternoon water games, and BBQ dinner

Friday

Pack up, clean site, breakfast, closing circle, depart