Build Camp Guidelines


The following guidelines have been established to make our time together meaningful and profitable; to help us remember that we are doing the Lord's business and we can work to God's glory whatever the job is to be done. Putting together all of the details for a successful build camp is a big job! We hope that these guidelines will help in your planning. 

Please read all of guidelines and find a way to share them with each person coming to the Yakima Valley in your group. If you have any questions, please let us know.


The maximum size for a build camp group is 25, including both youth and adults on site (kitchen staff who are not going on site do not need to be included in this count). We will provide work and a wonderful experience for 25 participants on site. Members of your group need to be at least 16 years of age. Children under age 16 may not accompany your group to the job site unless special permission is obtained from Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity one month before arrival.  Habitat cannot be responsible for their supervision on the job site and the construction supervisor's license could be in jeopardy if young children are present on site.

Habitat build camp volunteer groups are suggested to bring a ratio of at least one professional carpenter or contractor for every seven volunteers. The size of the group may be reduced if the appropriate number of skilled professionals are not available. The names and phone numbers of the skilled and experienced builders needs to be listed on the information sheet being returned to us. If your group consists of high school students, you will also need one adult counselor for every seven teens. See the section labeled "Adult Counselors".

Groups generally work a 4-day “work week”, arriving on Sunday and leaving that Friday.  You will begin work on Monday morning and end work on Thursday afternoon.  This helps us have a few days to get our local volunteers on site.


In order for Yakima Valley Partners Habitat to insure a productive build camp, it is necessary for your group to contribute $150 per person per week including youth and adults (kitchen staff not working on site not included).  This will help to pay the construction and administrative costs.  For example, if you bring a group of 6 youth and 4 adult advisors, for a total of 10 participants, you would be expected to make a contribution of $1,500. Please send at least half of your contribution two weeks before arriving. Your food and transportation costs are in addition to the $150 per person fee. 


Yakima Valley Partners Habitat considers a full workday to be between six and seven hours.  Actual time at the work site may be affected by travel time to and from the job as well as the weather. The normal workday begins at 8:00am if weather is good and ends at approximately 4:00pm, with an hour lunch break. Remember that when you are working, you are a servant of the Lord; be a witness to those around you.


Yakima Valley Partners Habitat will make arrangements for your accommodations in local churches with kitchen facilities. Showering facilities will be provided either at the church or another location. Each group member is expected to respect the church’s property and remember that he or she is a guest of the church’s congregation. There may be times when the rooms within the church will be used for church meetings and functions. The group needs to be flexible at these times and considerate of the use of the church by others. Loud music may not be played during your stay.

Because Yakima Valley Partners Habitat is dependent upon area churches for lodging for build camp groups year after year, disregard for the wishes of a host church is not only a poor Christian witness, but it can be very detrimental to the Habitat ministry. One negative experience with a group has forced us to take the position that any persons in a group that abuse a host’s hospitality will be sent home immediately at the group’s expense. That is unfortunate, but trust is slowly built and easily destroyed.

Each build camp participant will need to provide the following:

     1.  Sleeping bag and pillow

     2.  Towel, hand soap and other personal items

     3.  Boots or sturdy shoes, work gloves, and appropriate clothing

     4.  Sun screen and a hat

     5.  Hand tools (more information in section labeled "Tools")

     6.  Water container(s)

Each group must come with a complete First Aid kit.

At the end of your stay you will need to take time to clean the rooms that you have used. The churches will need to be ready for their Sunday services without giving the janitor a lot of extra work.

Please let us know in advance if your group will not need us to make housing and shower arrangements.


Meals should be planned prior to arrival using simplified menus. It is suggested that an adult be designated as a cook. There are adequate stores in the area for purchasing food, however, you may want to bring staple items from home. Refrigerator and freezer space is usually limited at your host church. Lunch will be eaten at each job site. You may want to bring camping coolers for carrying your lunch each day.


Yakima Valley Partners Habitat can supply some power tools and special tools for the jobs that you will be asked to do. You should bring enough claw hammers, tape measures and pencils for your entire group. We recommend that everyone bring at least one pair of work gloves. We do not require you to bring work gloves, but highly suggest it. Extra handsaws, wrecking bars or nail aprons will be helpful. A week or two before your arrival, we will have a better idea of the jobs and tools needed and will notify you about the tools that your group should bring. When bringing your own tools, please make sure you label them with either your name or group name so they don’t get mixed up with the other tools provided by Habitat.


Yakima Valley Partners Habitat builds new houses in partnership with families in need. We may be framing a house, putting in sheet rock, painting, digging a hole or septic field line, moving rocks, putting up paneling, etc. What you do depends on the stage of the project.  Habitat's work, like all construction work, is dependent on the weather. If it rains (a rarity in the Yakima Valley!) there may not be enough indoor work for everyone. Your patience, consideration, and flexibility in such a situation will be greatly appreciated. 

It should also be noted that we are often working on more than one job site at a time. Depending upon the size of your group and the number of work sites, you may not all be assigned to the same work site. The smaller the number of group members, the greater the chance to have a great experience together. Because the cities/towns in Yakima Valley are spread out (our service area is Prosser to Yakima), your group may have to drive some to reach the job site(s). We will try our best to house you near where you will be working, however, often groups are split up to work on more than one house at a time. We ask for your patience and understanding with this logistical concern.

Habitat also works with other housing organizations that have goals that are similar to ours, and our volunteers often work on their projects.  At the present time Habitat cooperates with Coalition for the Homeless and the Yakima City Office of Neighborhood Development Services, which has a low income Senior Volunteer program. Coalition for the Homeless furnishes short-term emergency housing; Habitat has helped them in renovating apartments.  These houses are sold at a low cost to families in need who have put in a certain amount of sweat equity hours.  Alongside of the Office of Neighborhood Development, Habitat has been asked to paint the exteriors of houses of the elderly who are not financially able to have it done. Most work camps will be asked to help one or more of these housing organizations during their week with Habitat.

Remember whatever job you complete is vital!  Framing a house is an important part, but digging a hole or moving rocks clears the land on which we will build the home. Every job is an important job to Christ.


Adult counselors (one for every seven teens) have responsibility for their youth 24 hours a day while they are participating in the Habitat Build Camp. The adult counselors will need to oversee the general safety and wellbeing of their youth, both on and off of the job site. Adults are required to work with the group during the day, overseeing the youths' safety and ensuring the quality control necessary in construction (these counselors can be the professional builders if they wish to take on this role also, or they can be other adults). Supervision of the youth is particularly important when away from the job site. 


Groups are responsible for planning their own evening activities. Yakima Valley Partners Habitat can provide suggestions for programs or activities that have been successful in the past. We would be happy to share that information with you, along with maps and directions, prior to your arrival...Please ask!  We have a family fun center that includes bumper boats, go karts, batting cages, miniature golf, video arcade and a small food court. 

We would like one evening while you are here to talk to you about Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity and our progress over the past year(s). At that time we will also handout the certificates and t-shirts.


All groups should be aware of and take seriously local customs and practices.  We live in a rural area and are rather conservative. You are ambassadors for Christ and we ask that you help us share the Good News while you are here. Alcohol and drugs are not allowed. "No Smoking" signs should be observed and there is no smoking on the job sites.

This is an area of rich cultural diversity including the Yakima Indian Nation Reservation and many Hispanic residents as well as migrant workers. Part of your sharing with us is to learn about the area. We think that doing so will enhance your build camp experience. 


Because the selected Habitat families are required to contribute at least 500 hours of labor on their own or another Habitat house, your group may have the opportunity to work with one or more Habitat families. This cannot be guaranteed due to the families’ employment schedule. However, when possible, this interaction can add greatly to your group's experience.

Please take the time to discuss with your group the need for sensitivity in working with the Habitat families. Some of these families do not speak English very well, and they very much appreciate your efforts to communicate with them or learn some Spanish words. It is also sometimes difficult for the families to fit in with the build camp groups - they may feel shy around new people. Therefore, your group should go out of its way to make them feel comfortable and welcome them into your group. Finally, it is always nice and a gesture of friendship for the group to include the Habitat families in their lunches on the job site and to bring enough food to share with them.


While you may not be with us on a Sunday, there are churches in the area with mid-week services that you are welcome to attend. We ask that you plan for daily devotions with your entire group. This could include Bible study, discussions of feelings, reflections on the day's events, and group building exercises, etc. Your Christian community witness is made daily by the manner in which you conduct yourselves both on and off the job sites. Your behavior will affect how people look at the whole operation of this Habitat ministry. We will be able to offer devotions for you and our local youth group will be open to you as well.


Yakima Valley Partners Habitat has taken out a minimal insurance policy to cover accidents on the job site. Your insurance will be billed first and then Habitat’s will be used if necessary.  You will want to look into additional insurance coverage through your church or organization.  Often a group can be included under a church or organization's insurance policy. Habitat strongly recommends that this be done as our accident insurance only covers on-site injuries in lieu of any insurance already covering your group's members. While Habitat makes job sites as safe as possible, each volunteer will be asked to sign a statement releasing us from any liability due to injury or illness. Please have these and the emergency contact forms signed for each person before leaving home. Also, add an emergency contact person who can be reached in case of an emergency. Each group should bring at least one person with current First Aid training.

Medical care is readily available in the area. You will be given maps and the appropriate information regarding medical care. If you are aware of any special medical needs among your group (i.e., diabetes, asthma, allergies to stings, etc.), please let us know when you arrive. Phone numbers for emergencies will also be available.

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time and effort necessary to read and share these guidelines with your whole group.  Yakima Valley Partners Habitat is looking forward to working in partnership with you to build homes for God's people in need.

Revised 12/03/13