Staff FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is camp held? Camp takes place on the grounds of Camp Kirby on Samish Island, in Washington state. Staff arrival is typically the Saturday 24 hours before campers arrive, and staff typically depart the Sunday morning 24 hours after campers depart.


Our cabins

Where will I live? Cabin counselors sleep in enclosed cabins with 4-10 campers and a co-counselor.  Other camp volunteers stay in staff-only cabins.  There is an infirmary with separate sleeping quarters for medical staff.  Staff-only bathrooms and showers are located a short walk from cabins. A staff-only kitchen is available for storing personal food items, and while laundry facilities are available they are typically reserved for urgent needs.

What are the typical job duties of a volunteer counselor?  The paramount duty of any staff member is to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of our campers.  Cabin counselors attend to the daily needs of campers, including wake-up, bedtime routines, inclusion, and social cohesion.  Most cabin counselors rotate with campers through morning activities and supervise afternoon physical activities.  Program instructors design and execute specific free thought, science, or art activities as part of our program.  Medical staff oversee the health needs of CQNW community members.  Our photographer takes a group photos and candids throughout the week, leading up to a final slide show in which all CQNW members are featured.  All staff members rotate duties like bathroom and mealtime supervision.

Lou trains campers to become CQ archers

Lou and CQ archers

How are we trained? Staff training is an ongoing, dynamic process.  Each accepted staff member is given access to professionally developed online training modules, and are expected to complete them prior to camp.  At camp, we receive site-specific and activity-specific training and a staff handbook.


Counselors Nick and Chase love living in Jupiter cabin!

Counselors Nick and Chase love living in Jupiter cabin!

Do staff receive pay? No, Camp Quest staff are volunteers and do not receive pay.  All meals and board are provided for the week of camp.  Additionally, CQNW will reimburse staff members for first aid, AED, CPR, and lifeguard training completed prior to camp.


How do I apply? Adults who will be at least 18 years of age prior to the start of camp can apply via the staff application link above.  If you will not be at least 18 years of age prior to the start of camp, please see our Leadership Track program for older teen campers.

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Counselors stay friends in and out of camp!

Do CQNW staff get together during the rest of the year?  We sure do!  Join the volunteers email list. Come to monthly board meetings.  Join CQNW and Seattle Atheists to celebrate Darwin Day–a great time to meet CQNW staff and families!  Returning staff and accepted future staff also stay connected via a Facebook group.  Many of us get together at local atheist and humanist meet ups, and board member Bridget plans periodic social events throughout the off-season!

How do I get to camp? Driving directions will be emailed to accepted staff members prior to camp.  Staff are encouraged to arrange carpools through our Facebook group or email.

What should I bring? See Preparing for Camp. Staff may bring additional items like electric fans, books to read to campers at bedtime, kayaks or wetsuits (for Kirby staff), personal archery equipment, hobby items, stuffed animals, or camping chairs.  Some staff are more comfortable supplementing their camp-provided bunk bed mattresses


Counselors Dan and Bridget are headed back from the waterfront

Will I have internet access or cell phone service at camp? While most carriers have some coverage at both camp locations, there is limited wifi access at camp. Staff are expected to use phones, tablets, and computers in staff-only areas during personal break time.  Staff are asked to refrain from posting camp pictures to social media while camp is in session. Besides, you’ll be so busy with activities that you may just forget about that office email!

Am I a good fit for Camp Quest NorthWest? Camp Quest NorthWest is an affiliate of Camp Quest, Inc., the first summer camp in the history of the United States aimed at the children of freethinking parents. Prospective counselors should consider the same questions we ask of our teen Leaders in Training.  Our program is based on humanist philosophy and values but is open to families of all world views. While individual humanists may hold a range of beliefs, Camp Quest volunteers generally affirm the following (adapted from The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles):


Lead Boys Counselor Mike is preparing for campfire!

  • We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
  • We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and empathy.
  • We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.
  • We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.
  • We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
  • We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.