Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
At camp having success is dependent on the talent and skills that each individual staff member brings together to build the most effective team. Team building goals include but are not limited to promoting leadership, motivation and having a productive camp. Whether it is orientation, workshops or a mid-season refresher, using the most effective team building exercises are essential in improving chemistry, break down personal barriers and most important having fun. Check out these five easy team building exercises, adopted from my travels to numerous staff trainings and conferences to improve your team!
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
– Henry Ford
Just because it is orientation and training time with your staff does not mean training must be hours long, covering organization rules, standards and camp bureaucracy in a classroom setting. At some point in our camping careers, many of us have experienced how unpleasant it was sitting in a closed room listening to the director regurgitate verbatim ‘all things camp’ from a planner or manual. This does not have to be the case when hosting your training. I want to offer advice and tips you can use for different methods and techniques in teaching your staff to learn about their responsibilities and the intricacies of your camp. Staff training is the most significant period before the arrival of campers, parents and families, and it can also serve as an opportunity to find the best solutions for teaching most staff about the most rewarding job they will ever experience in their lives. Here are tips for getting the most out of your staff during training.
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
– Stephen R. Covey
Whether you have new or returning staff working with your camp there are always challenges in getting the best out of your personnel. As a former director leading staff and those of you who are or have served in the position can attest that no two seasons of camp are ever the same. I have found that sometimes empowering staff to make decisions on their own, while adhering to the camp’s rules, can often make it difficult to grow and cultivate your staff. Therefore, I felt it necessary to always set standards for myself and those under my leadership.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
As camp leaders we work in a unique industry where we have the responsibilities of managing staff, facilitating programs, activities and even making executive level financial and operational decisions that benefit the organization and further the mission.
“Time at summer camp isn’t time spent, it’s invested”
As camp professionals we are constantly searching for innovative marketing ideas to recruit campers and build relationships with new and existing camp families. Although most camps host their programs throughout the summer weeks, creating a year-round marketing strategy for your camp allows you to frequently engage your campers and families. Here are tips for creating effective and successful marketing for your summer camp.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir
If you’re new to camp whether an owner, director or embarking on a new program it can be tempting to license content from someone else, rather than trying to create new content from whole-cloth. While licensing content can come with great perks like outcomes research driven programming, proven content or an association with nationally or locally recognized programs, there are important things to consider before moving forward:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Throughout my travels across the country working, volunteering and visiting camps, one of the first things I typically do is look for the camps’ mission statement or values. Let’s face it, every camp we have ever attended as either campers, parents, staff or even guests has a mission statement, philosophy or set of core values and beliefs proudly displayed. These statements are on signs, walls or banners someplace visible for all to see and they show what the camp has been throughout its journey.
Your organization may have a standard mission, but there are several ways to engage your staff with the purpose of that mission. Here is an activity that helps to build upon your camp mission.
“You’re away unplugged from technology, smartphones and there is no Wi-Fi, but I guarantee you will find a better connection at camp.”
If you look at the dictionary definition of camp (got this from Collins, not Webster’s) it is labeled as “a collection of huts and other buildings that is provided for a particular group of people, such as refugees, prisoners, or soldiers, as a place to live or stay.” Obviously, that definition doesn’t apply to us as camp professionals unless we want to invite some very difficult legal or ethical questions about our programming or who we’re serving, although there can be times during the camp season where we can feel like we are part of those groups.
“The greatest reward of working camp is that I know that by the end of the session, I will have made an impact in a camper’s life.”
So I want to share a quick story on why I chose the name AskTheCampGuy. Years ago working at a local special needs not-for-profit organization; I was originally hired as the camp director acting as an administrative manager and presiding over the summer residential and day camp programs.