Teens Share Camp Assistant Benefits

by Jodi Fuson

As an eighth-grader, Maren Steinke’s mom encouraged her to apply to be a Bright Lights Camp Assistant. But the Lincoln Southeast sophomore hasn’t needed any prompting since. 

“I was more motivated individually to sign up my second year,” said Maren. “It was so much fun, and I also remember looking up to my Camp Assistants when I was a Bright Lights camper.” 

Many Camp Assistants are former Bright Lights campers like Maren, but it’s definitely not a requirement.  Eighth graders and up who have availability and an interest in assisting with camps for students in grades K-8 can apply.  

A two-year Camp Assistant veteran, Maren will assist for a third summer alongside her former teacher, Shelley Clayburn, in Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with “Brainz” during Bright Lights’ International Camp Week. Maren has also taken and assisted with Clayburn’s It’s All Greek to Me camp about Greek mythology in the past. 

Pius X Senior William Cunningham first learned about Bright Lights as a way to fulfill a school volunteer requirement. And when reviewing the camp options, he found several that matched his interests.

In Beginning Guitar camp last summer he shared his musical talents while aiding teacher Justin Brookens. “I was just really surprised by how receptive and ready to learn the campers were,” William said.  

Both Maren and William have benefited personally from their volunteer experiences with Bright Lights. Maren said Mrs. Clayburn has been a positive role model for her, and she’s learned to build relationships with the adults she’s interacted with at camp.  

Maren’s Bright Lights volunteer experience has also impacted her involvement at church. Previously she was in a childcare support role at First Plymouth. Now she is on the Youth & Family Ministries Board and leads a K-1 group on Wednesday nights. As she applies for jobs and scholarships, Maren said she sees her Bright Lights experience as noteworthy. 

William hopes to apply what he’s learned as he enters college next fall. He shared that his experience with Bright Lights helped him to see the world in a more novel way as he interacted with a younger demographic.  He wants to be sure he doesn’t lose the sense of wonder that he saw in Bright Lights campers as they engaged in hands-on learning. 

Both teens found Bright Lights offered a supportive volunteer environment. William said it’s “positive and cheerful” and that there are always plenty of people ready to help. 

Maren stated, “I feel it is a priority to make their volunteers successful. They want them to be comfortable.” 

Appreciation for her role and contribution was also apparent. “I definitely felt appreciated,” Maren said. “My time is noticed, and my effort is noticed, and that’s been a motivating factor for me to come back year after year.”  


April is volunteer month!
If you or a student you know would like to learn more about the Camp Assistant role or apply for a position, please visit our website.