Frequently Asked Questions:

Who are the special needs children that we will be mentoring?

All the children we serve have a variety of developmental or behavioral difficulties.  Many of these children have diagnoses such as Autistic Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Diabetes, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, or other genetic conditions. We currently have 2 different settings in which you may volunteer with children with special needs:

SummerAde Traditional Track (available weeks of: June 19th- July 24th):  In this track you will be assigned to volunteer with just one child at one of our Partner Camps.  The children are usually K through 8th graders who may need help throughout their school or camp day. They may need help knowing where to go, following directions, staying on task, communicating their needs, or being social. These children will be screened to ensure that their medical, behavioral or developmental problems will not be too severe.

SummerAde Special Track (available weeks of: June 19th- August 7th) In this track you will be assigned to volunteer with one of our Partner Camps for children with more significant special needs. These camps will have 12 children with special needs and will be closely supervised by 4 or more camp staff and 4 Teen Mentors each week. These camp sessions are currently scheduled for 3 weeks at Mill Valley Parks and Recreation (PAASS Beyond Boundaries Camp) or one week at the YMCA (Beyond Limits Camp).

In addition to SummerAde, Jewish Family and Children Services (Marin) is offering JFCS Youth First Internships in which you would be assigned to work for 6 weeks at the JCC Marin camps working with children with special needs. JFCS summer internships are for qualified students entering grade 10, 11, and 12 in the fall. This is recommended for qualified Teen Mentors with prior experience and you do not apply here. This internship offers a generous stipend and you will not be eligible for community service hours. If you apply and are not selected for the JFCS internship, you may apply for SummerAde also. Priority Application Deadline: Friday, March 3. Submit your application to: Internships – JFCS

How do I know that I can meet the special needs of my Camper?

The organizers of SummerAde will do extensive screening with the families of the campers to ensure that the child’s special needs are not too great. Also, you will be required to attend a 2 hour SummerAde orientation in the spring, where you will learn about children with special needs in general, some principles of behavior management and learn about the specific needs of your assigned camper.   You will also be required to attend orientation at the Partner Camp.

Once you are assigned a camper, you will arrange an ‘in-person’ visit with both the child and parents before camp to better understand the child’s needs. This can be done at your home, local park or, best of all, at the camp setting. If for whatever reason you do not think you are able to work with your assigned Camper, please notify SummerAde staff.  We will attempt to find another match for you.

What if something happens at camp that I do not know how to handle?

Campers’ parents will be on call during the camp hours for the SummerAde mentors throughout the day. Although we hope you would not need to contact the child’s parents, we want to assure you that help will be available. Camp staff will also be available to answer questions as needed. SummerAde staff will also be available to help.

Where and when will the camps be and what will the day be like?

We will be making matches for 8 weeks this summer: June 19th through August 7th.  Campers will be attending one of our 5 Partner Camps.  They choose the dates that work best for them.  On your application, you pick the weeks that you are available to work as a Mentor and we will match you with a camper who prefers the same dates.  The more flexible you are with your dates, the more likely we can make a match.  Priority is also given to applicants who wish to volunteer for 2 weeks.  The typical camp day is much like a school day from 9:00 to 3:00. Some children will be attending shorter half day camps.  You will be required to provide your own transportation and are not allowed to drive the campers.  We are currently working with only Marin County camps.

Will I get paid?

The teen mentors are volunteers and they will not be receiving a salary.

Will I get community service credit?

You should contact your Community Service Program director at your high school to determine if you are eligible for community service hours during the summer months. The SummerAde directors will fill out any required paperwork to ensure you receive credit.

How do I apply for SummerAde?

You will need to complete 2 applications.  Fill out the attached SummerAde Teen Mentor Application and submit to us.  Please have your parents read the liability and waiver statement at the bottom of the application, check the box at the end and then click “Submit.”  This year, we have a limit of accepting 40 truly committed applicants and priority is given to returning mentors.  Priority is also given to applicants who wish to volunteer for 2 weeks.  This action will allow us to screen, match, and train you fully.  Even if you are not exactly sure which week(s) you will be available this summer, you will need to complete the application by APRIL 15, 2017.  You will be notified by email when a match has been made with a camper.

Once matched, you will also be required to contact the Partner Camp Director and complete an application for the partner camp. Then you will be required to a training session for SummerAde mentors at the Camp.

You will also be required to show proof of Live Scan Fingerprinting once you are matched.

Again, application deadline is April 15th, but please submit your application early to ensure a match.   Most years, we have more teens than campers applying, so APPLY EARLY!


We will ask for all participating families and teens to complete an evaluation at the end of their week at camp. We welcome questions and comments at any time.


We depend upon your donations to continue our work.  Donations are welcome at any time!  Thank you!