Monthly Archives: March 2015

New Camp Director Pro Tip #6 – Say Yes!

In grade 10 I decided to take drama class as my fine arts requirement, it was the first year it was being offered at my school and I thought – ok, drama! Let’s do this!

That first week of class we played a lot of ice breakers, learned some theory, and learned the game, freeze. (Which incidentally is a great game for camp too!)

Here’s how the game works:
Everyone sits in a circle; two people stand in the middle of the circle and start acting out a scene, anyone from the circle can shout out “freeze” at any time and the two actors stop what they’re doing and hold their position.
The person who interrupted them must tap either of them on the shoulder and replace them holding the exact same position. When the actors unfreeze they are in a new scenario (that makes sense based on the position the actors were frozen in) and must act that out until someone yells “freeze” again.
For example: The two actors in the middle are in a scene about making a cake and the oven catches on fire, someone from the circle yells “freeze”, replaces one of the actors, and when they resume play they are in a scene where they are bandits riding horses after robbing a bank. 

It’s a fun game, try it with your campers.

But here’s the really cool thing about the game.
My drama teacher explained that in order for this game to work, we need to embrace whatever scene is thrown at us, we just have to go with it, we have to say “yes”.
We then have to build on that “yes”, to contribute to the scene; we have to say “…and…” 

And that my friends, is the basic rule of improv, say “Yes, and…” Continue reading

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Picture this… Is it summer yet?

tie dye

A warm sunny morning, a soft breeze rustles the leaves on the trees and the tie dye hanging on the line… the sound of campers laughing echoes through the camp and everything just feels good, and right…

But no, instead it’s still dark outside, and I need to go scrape my car (ok, in all honesty, my husband usually scrapes the car for me… but still!) because we just had another snow storm this weekend, and they’re calling for another one tomorrow. Did I mention that it’s the middle of March? In fact it’s heading toward the end of March. IN FACT it’s St. Paddy’s day… (now that I actually look at the date) Happy St. Paddy’s Day, here’s a snow storm.

Anyone else ready for summer yet? Only 61 days until I leave for camp… and since I’m in the East Coast of Canada I’m starting to worry that instead of hanging our tie dye on the line we’ll be hanging our mittens by the fireplace! Winter needs to end folks! What’s your countdown? How many days till you’re “home”?

Do you have any pressing concerns that you need to take care of before your countdown ends? Other than the fact that I may have to tunnel my way into my camp, I have a program that I’m trying to get off the ground, but in order to do that I need to visit schools around the province, which isn’t going to happen if we keep getting snow storms. (Ok, I’m willing to recognize and admit that this post is a little bit of a rant, I think it’s my first…for the blog. Milestone!)

Ok, enough with the ranting, here’s something I’m excited about – I’m psyched to get my staff together and start becoming a team, we’ve got some really stellar people on board this year and I can’t wait to get to know them better and see them in action.

Tell me your countdown in the comment section below, and maybe the thing you’re most looking forward to, let’s get hyped up for camp instead of all bummed out that winter just won’t take the hint.

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Listables – Top 10 things I learned from working at summer camp

I’m celebrating 15 years in camping this summer, I’ve worked in very “rustic” camps, music camps, science camps, day camps and camps for people with disabilities. I’ve learned a lot over the years, here are 10 of my top lessons

1. How to cook some gourmet meals over a campfire

Anne Worner / Foter / CC BY-SA

I’m not much of a cook to begin with to be honest, but I’m actually better at cooking over a campfire than I am over a stove.

2.  It’s ok to be foolish, in fact it’s encouraged camp is about having fun and being silly, nobody takes themselves too seriously and it makes for a really welcoming, comfortable environment. Continue reading

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New Camp Director Pro Tip # 5 – Be Available

I talk a lot about fun & cute ways to support your staff, shout out walls, warm fuzzies, etc. but the most important way to support your staff is to actually, physically, be there for them. Let them know that you’re available to talk – or listen if when they need it. Then, actually BE available!

I know that as a camp director you have tons of work to do, ESPECIALLY as a new camp director… sometimes you feel like you have too many balls in the air, I totally get it.

I start during training session, I tell that staff that my ACD and I can be their “people” and that if they’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, confused, or any other emotion that makes them feel icky, they can come find us and we’ll talk, hug, scream, eat our feelings… whatever it is that they need.

Some camp directors are great at scheduling office hours to keep themselves on track and so staff know when they’re available to chat. That’s not one of my strengths.  My guess is that that type of system would work better for bigger camps with hundreds of staff and large leadership teams.

I run a small camp, I wear a lot of hats (figuratively AND literally – I really like hats!) so one minute I can be submitting payroll, the next I can be helping wash dishes, and the next I can be hanging out with a counsellor and their camper who just needed a little down time. So I have to make sure I carve out time to check in with staff, and to let them know that even though I may LOOK busy – I’m never too busy for them.

hats Continue reading

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Quotable Camp – Choose Wisely

choose wisely Continue reading

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