Awkward conversations happen. Sometimes it’s because it’s a difficult or uncomfortable topic, sometimes it’s because of the relationship you have with the staff member, and sometimes it’s just because you’re not used to being in a position where you have to discuss certain topics with staff (don’t worry, it get’s easier with time, you’ll get there).
I thought it would be a great time to cover this since I recently talked about awkward conversations in my last post about Campmances, if you missed it, check it out here.
Scott Arizala, of the Scott Arizala Show has a great video about having difficult conversations over at Camp Hacker. I highly recommend you check it out. Continue reading →
Campmance. I have no idea who came up with the term, but it’s perfect.
Here’s the Urban Dictionary: campmance definition.
Almost anyone who has worked at camp has had a campmance or at the very least, witnessed one.
Cue the song “Lovers In A Dangerous Time” by Barenaked Ladies… I’ll wait. (In case you’re not familiar with the band, it’s a group of men. Not actual ladies – I know, it was confusing for all of us in the 90’s too)
Some camps have very strict rules about camp romances being a big no- no, while others go so far as to encourage it by promoting past staff marriages as a way of recruiting staff… umm… yep. No judgement. Everyone has their own way of promoting camp.
I’ve always fallen somewhere in-between.
Here’s my take on campmances.
(Using photos of my cats to illustrate my point because, why not!?) Continue reading →
My first summer as a seasonal camp director was SO exciting! I was jazzed that I had actually gotten the job, I had so many ideas and plans and lists, and I was thrilled that my assistant camp director was someone who I had worked with before as a counsellor, and was someone who I liked and respected. I knew it was going to be an amazing summer.
Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as it could have been. Things went wrong. Mistakes were made, and it got hard. Now, not all of the mistakes were mine – but those are the only ones I’ll talk about because those were the only ones I had any control over, and while I can learn (and have learned) from other people’s mistakes, it’s not my place to point them out or discuss them openly. So here are the things I wish I’d done differently when working with my ACD my first summer as a camp director.
I didn’t have a full understanding of what my role was in relation to my ACD.
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Everybody loves a good list! I know I do!! Here’s a list of things that every new camp director should have, and I wish that someone had given me a box of these things when I started – along with the coinciding advice.
Note: If you know a new camp director, give them a box of these items, or a basket, preferably a picnic basket, if they’re a camp director chances are they buy into the idea of eating outside, on the ground… anyway…. this would be a nice gift for someone.
1. Duct tape
Advice – Duct take is like gold at camp, it will be used for everything. You will be forever searching for it because your counsellors will have swiped it, I strongly recommend writing your name or “office” on the inside of it and keeping it in a safe place.
2. A pencil-case containing pens/ highlighters/ sharpies/ post-it notes
Advice – Ok I realize that this is sort of cheating because I’m telling you to get a pencil-case then put a ton of office supplies in it, but all of them are important – and it’s super handy to have them all in one spot!! Again, beware of counsellors “borrowing” your supplies, cause they will, especially pens and sharpies.
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Every camp has different ways of making their staff feel appreciated and of celebrating success. One of my favourite ways to do this is by giving Warm Fuzzies. Warm Fuzzies are encouraging little notes that you give each other as a pick me up or to say ‘job well done’.
Here are some ways to run a warm fuzzie program for your staff:
1. Write each staff person’s name on an envelope with the open end facing up. It can be any size envelope just as long as it has an open top.
I like: To use a manila envelope, make sure both ends are closed, then cut it down the middle – voila two warm fuzzie envelopes for the price of one!
2. Either decorate the envelopes for the staff as a ‘gift’ or have them decorate it themselves to personalize it.
I like: To decorate them for my staff, my ACD and I usually get together toward the end of training session and try to personalize the envelopes based on what we’ve learned about each person, music notes, polka dots, sports stuff, etc. (although I must admit, the photo below is all my ACD’s handiwork! I missed out this year)
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Sometimes all you need is a picture…
I found this photo on Pinterest but it originally came from Kidcam Teacher Track (I think they were the original creators – at least I can’t find anything to prove otherwise)
Check out more camp director resources on my Pinterest board.
What qualities do you think are important for being a fabulous camp director? Tell me about it in the comment section below.
Congratulations! You’re a shiny new camp director! As you sit at your new desk in your new office with your pen, a stapler, some paperclips, a box of half used paint bottles that should be in the A & C hall, a crown that should be in the costume closet, a hoodie that should be in lost and found and a mountain of paperwork. You think, “This is SO exciting!!!” Then you might wonder, “what should I do first?” Well, right after you put those things back where they live (why is it that the directors office accumulates so many random, weird objects?) you need to learn some history. … wait… what? Yup, you heard (read?) right. It’s learnin’ time.
Pro tip # 3 – Know your history.
You need to know the history of your camp because people will ask!
People will ask all the time, which is great because that means that they’re interested. But it also means that you need to know what you’re talking about otherwise it makes you look … well… like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
And then the people will start to question if you *actually* know what you’re talking about in other areas, and that’s not good. Continue reading →
“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”
Change can be hard, especially at summer camp where so much is rooted in tradition. Unfortunately, not all traditions are good, or healthy, or worth keeping. But people hold on to them because that’s what they did as campers, or in their first summer as a staff member (which in some cases was LAST YEAR!)
And some “traditions” aren’t even traditions! They’re habits, bad habits.
So as a new Camp Director, how do you break those habits, shift the camp culture, and create new, healthy habits (that will hopefully become traditions).
One step at a time, friend. Continue reading →