Learning Never Exhausts the Mind: Tips for Effective Staff Training

“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.

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Tips for Licensing Content for your 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:

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The Mission of Camp

“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.”

-Maya Angelou

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.

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What is “Camp”?

“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.

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