This is a great question I got asked today.
I think it should be noted that the work load over a camp can vary greatly. If you are in charge of a youth event you may well be run off your feet from the crack of dawn to the middle of the night. While if you are chaperoning young people from your church to an organised event the work load is considerably less.
One could certainly argue that a youth worker should get paid for every single hour of the day, as the youth worker is on duty the whole time. But I would suggest this is not a healthy attitude for a church youth worker to have. There will be volunteer youth leaders at that camp who will have worked a 40 hour week, and are doing this over and beyond their day job. I think the idea of a youth worker tithing their time in this situation is healthy. For the youth worker to be able to say to their volunteers that they are volunteering too is good.
So what do I suggest?
I would suggest Churches do not pay youth workers from the hours of 9pm to 9am. Yes the youth worker will be expected to work in those hours, but this would be considered voluntary, and would be agreed to in the work contract before employment.
This would mean for a typical camp (Fri through Sun), a youth worker would get paid about 20 hours. For example that may mean the youth worker is working 4 hours on the Friday (5pm – 9pm), 12 hours on the Saturday (9am – 9pm) and then 6 hours on the Sunday (9am – 3pm). Of course the youth worker may get paid for work extra hours during the day on the Friday prepping, but for the camp time it would be 20 hours. I think this is fair to both the youth worker and the church.
Of course there are some legal obligations that should be noted, on public holidays employees get paid time and a half, plus get a day in lieu. This typically becomes a reality for church youth workers over the Easter Weekend, where Good Friday and Easter Monday are all public holidays.