The 70-plus summer staff members at LifeWay’s Glorieta Conference Center are working in "the family business" this summer, but that phrase doesn’t mean what you might expect.
"I do feel like their dad," said Billy Roberts, speaking of the young adult staffers he will oversee as manager of the Chuckwagon, Glorieta’s fast food eatery. During the busy summer camp and events season, Roberts’ employees will prepare and serve about two-thirds of the Chuckwagon’s annual food sales.
A couple of weeks before Glorieta’s busy season begins, summer staffers, mostly 20-something college students, arrive at the conference center outside Santa Fe, N.M. Preparations are already well underway to transition Glorieta from its winter schedule, which features mostly small church group bookings, to its busier summer schedule that includes weeks of student camps and large training events.
On top of reopening buildings shuttered during the winter months and performing standard springtime maintenance on the several hundred acre campus, Glorieta’s full-time staff and managers invest a couple of weeks training summer staff members for tasks such as serving meals, working the front desk, housekeeping, facilitating recreation and a variety of other responsibilities.
"We work hard to create an experience that is not just a work experience," said Andrew Morris, Glorieta’s program specialist. Morris is in charge of HighPoint, Glorieta’s summer staff program that incorporates spiritual training into the summer job.
"We want [summer staff members] to see themselves as part of the ministry of Glorieta," he said.
Since ministry is a key component of each job description, Morris said he examined each job application carefully in his search for servant leaders.
Kelli Rice, a student at San Francisco State University, said that the ministry element of working at Glorieta is what drew her to the job.
"I could make more money doing something else this summer, but we get to come here and serve and glorify God," said Rice, who will be working primarily at Glorieta’s front desk.
This is the first summer that temporary summer staff will handle front desk duties, said front desk manager Robert Suggs. Because the job is so complex, his summer employees arrived for training a week earlier than other staff members.
Rice said her first few days on campus were "really quiet," and she was grateful for the friendship and community she developed with the other front desk workers.
That community is what Roberts wants to cultivate as a manager of summer staff members. He said he views the Chuckwagon with the same perspective as he applies to LifeWay as a larger organization. "We’re a ministry first and a business second," Roberts said. "We’ll be busy, but we have to retain that mentality.
"I have a responsibility to lead by example," Roberts said. "I want to know that the summer staff is growing in experience and spiritually." He added that accomplishing that begins with ensuring the summer staff functions more as a family than as a group of individual employees.
This summer’s staff is comprised of very few returning employees. While that means their level of experience is low, Morris said the level of opportunity to foster a sense of community is high.
"It’s a really strong staff and the morale is high," he said. "We want them to understand that they are working as the Body."