Monthly Archives: January 2015

If I could do it over… self care at camp

I’ve been working at camp for a few years, I’ve been in a leadership position for most of those years. And it has taken me a really long time to realize that I’ve been setting a terrible example for my staff.

There, I said it.

I’ve fairly recently realized this and I’ve been working on setting a better example for my camp colleagues these past few years, but the other day I witnessed a conversation that made me realize that I’m not the only one who’s setting a terrible example for up-and-coming staff, it’s rampant in the camping industry.

People work at camp because they care, and almost every camp I know has the mantra “campers come first” which is wonderful, and as it should be. BUT (and that’s a big but), camper care shouldn’t come at the expense of staff health and well-being. Continue reading

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Categories: If I Could Do It Over..., Self Care at Camp | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Listables – It’s a roundup – of books!

I figured it was time to share some of the resources I’ve used over the past few years that (I think) have helped me become a better camp director.
I’m talkin’ bout BOOKS people! Yes, actual, physical, hold em in your hands, smell the pages, circle, underline, highlight, write in the margins, dog- eared, books! ahhhhhh!

I’ve always been a book lover; don’t get me wrong, I also use a ton of online resources for inspiration and education purposes, but that’s a post for another day (actually, it’ll probably be my next listables post) but my first love is a good book.

Here’s a few books I find useful. In no particular order.

IMG_08331. I love Malcolm Gladwell books. Unfortunately I couldn’t find David & Goliath, or The Tipping Point, which is my favourite of his (honestly, it’s one of my favourite books in general) so I couldn’t add them to this photo. But I love his books because they give me a different perspective, and I have all of these great moments where Gladwell can be talking about graffiti in New York’s subway stations or different types of mustard and I’ll have an epiphany about camper care or staff dynamics. Seriously!
He’s a phenomenal storyteller and the way he weaves seemingly unrelated topics together to support his argument inspires me to be more creative in my thinking and problem solving.

I highly recommend all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books (ok David & Goliath wasn’t my favourite, but still, great author)
The Tipping Point
Blink
Outliers
What the Dog Saw
David & Goliath

Continue reading

Categories: Listables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Supporting your staff – Part 3 – Shout Out Wall

One of the easiest and most effective ways to motivate and support your staff is to publicly point out the good things they do. I know, some real high level ideas here…

But seriously, pointing out their awesomeness in front of others will give them all of the warm fuzzy feelings and let them know that you are seeing their hard work. Know what else will make em feel great? When OTHERS compliment them on a job well done too! Woah.

That’s where the shout out wall comes in handy.

IMG_2583 Continue reading

Categories: Staff Encouragement & Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Big change or more of the same?

Princess Puppy

The age old question; does camp change people or just make them more of who they already are?

We talk all the time about how camp changes people for the better, how leaders are created, and how campers go home as different people. But what about the argument that we didn’t actually “change” or “create” anything… we simply give campers a safe environment to challenge themselves and grow the skills and qualities that they already possess.

I don’t have the answer, all I have is years of watching campers (and staff) … become. Become more confident, become happier, become better versions of themselves.  Continue reading

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Hiring Staff is like Buying a House

Tis the season – for hiring staff!
Camp directors all over the land will emerge from their holiday break, squint at the bright sun, stretch, yawn, and kick into high gear. This is the most important season of our year – the pre camp season. This is when we create the groundwork for the magic that happens at camp (the post-season and in-session periods are obviously important too… but this is the one that allows those other parts of our year to even exist!)

One of the most important things a camp director does at this time of year (or earlier, for some of my more industrious colleagues) is hire all the people who will be the magic makers, dream weavers, role models, and storytellers this summer, aka the camp staff.

Hiring staff is huge, it’s so huge in fact, that there are dozens upon dozens of books, articles, and blog posts written about how best to interview, vet, and choose your staff. These are the people who will interact with your campers on a daily basis, they have the power to shape that camper’s experience at camp, so we need to make sure we have the right folks in place. As I was reflecting on this over my holiday break (because, let’s be real, no one in this industry really ever takes a break, am I right?!) it occurred to me that hiring staff is a lot like buying a house.

I’m making this statement as someone who is beginning the process of buying their first home (exciting, I know!) so I’ve had real estate on the brain a lot lately too. Let me lay it out for you: Continue reading

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