Toolkit for New Directors – Listables

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.

3. Screwdriver

Advice – Get one of the ones with the bits in the handle, they’re handy! Even if you have a maintenance person and you never have to plunge a toilet, screw in a lightbulb, or spray a wasp’s nest because your amazing, magical, maintenance person does that for you – you should still have a handy-dandy screwdriver (and yes, I do realize that none of those activities require a screwdriver… ). You never know when you’re going to need one and it’s better to be prepared. What would you do if you had to put up an emergency bulletin board, or take the face plate off of a light switch? Exactly. You’d be out of luck.
At the very least, your maintenance person will like you when you lend them your screwdriver.

4. A watch

Advice – Don’t rely on your cell phone to tell the time. You’re probably going to have it with you all the time anyway, but you don’t want to be whipping it out every 10 minutes to check the time. It sends the wrong message to campers and staff. Wear a watch. Be retro. I recommend a waterproof one.

5. Snack food

Advice – Have a stash of snack food for times when you’re stressed, sad, or want to celebrate – you deserve it!
You can also have a stash of food for your staff when they’re stressed, sad, celebrating, having a diabetic low… so many uses!!

6. WD -40

Advice – Do I even need to go into detail about this? I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory in its awesomeness. WD-40 does ALL the things. It should really be in everyone’s toolkit (or picnic basket!?) regardless of whether they work at camp or not.


Great chart from the folks over at WD-40 Myths, Legends, & Fun Facts

7. Box of baby wipes

Advice – I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve gotten myself into some sticky situations over the years… (BADUMBUM!) Seriously though, baby wipes are great for wiping charcoal or s’mores off of your hands after campfire, face paint off (on the way to outpatients… ) wiping a campers face that’s covered in … well … everything since the last three days. There’s a reason mom’s carry baby wipes around with them, they’re useful!

8. Walkie talkie

Advice – It’s great when your staff can reach you without having to physically go find you, and visa versa. A cell phone also works, but let’s be real, walkie talkie’s are way more fun to use!!

9. Travel coffee mug

Advice – It has a lid so it’s about 98% less likely to spill. No one can see what you’re drinking, so if you need a little actual coffee in there, no one is the wiser – everyone can just assume it’s water. (Just don’t put anything in there that wouldn’t be camp appropriate – that’s not cool)

10. Clipboard or notebook

Advice – carry around a clipboard (preferably with paper on it…) or a notebook to jot stuff down as your day goes on. Make notes of maintenance stuff, questions you need to follow-up with, things to talk about at meeting, etc. If you’re anything like me, by the time 11pm rolls round, you can’t remember what you were thinking of at 8am, so taking notes is super helpful.


I’d be psyched to get this starter kit as a shiny new camp director (or even as a less shiny, less new camp director!)

Is there anything I missed that should be on this list?
What’s the most useful thing someone gave you when you were starting out?

Tell me about it in the comment section below.

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