Priorities – At Camp and in Life

Oh, hello camp friends!

It’s now 2016, and you know what that means – we’re THISMUCH closer to camp 2016! Woot!

So I’ve been away for a few weeks, and by away I mean both literally and figuratively. I had a mini family emergency (which we originally thought was a major family emergency but got dialled down to a code yellow – yay for small victories, which are actually pretty major victories in the scheme of things) and headed “home” (where I grew up- about 5 hours away) for a short period of time.

After that I had about a week to play catch up on a lot of things before the holidays, and then I decided to just spend as much time as possible unplugged and with my family over the holidays. It was nice.

So this whole ordeal got me thinking about priorities.

Setting Priorities and Communicating Them

I am so fortunate to work with some really amazing humans who are supportive and understanding; when I told my bosses that I felt like I needed to go home for an unspecified amount of time but would work remotely when I was able to and would take vacation days if I found I wasn’t able to work much, they were like “Okay cool, we trust you. Check in when you get a chance and let us know how everything is going and what your timeline is shaping up to be.”

Awesome. Right?

I’m also really fortunate that I was at a point in the season when I could pick up and take off and it didn’t disrupt my work very much (although it wreaked havoc on all of my other commitments, hence the catching up). It would have been a whole lot harder to take so much time if camp was in session.

But I would have done the exact same thing, because family takes priority.

Balancing “Real Life” and Camp Priorities

I’ve always tried to do the same for my staff – I ask them up front if they have any commitments during the summer that will conflict with the camp schedule, then we try to work around it.

Obviously the more notice I have, the better – but there are some things that just sort of crop up and I try really hard to accommodate …well… life, when I can.

Just as I am always trying to reinforce the idea that even though camp is the most amazing, fun, incredible, fulfilling, hilarious job there is – it’s still a job and we have to be professional, etc.
The other side of the coin is that while camp is important and can feel all encompassing sometimes – it’s still just a job*, and sometimes other things take priority.

But there have also been times that I have had to miss really important moments because it would have been irresponsible of me to leave – in fact, there was one instance a few years ago where myself and a head counsellor had both hoped to book off the same day. It was supposed to be a pretty quiet week so I said we’d play it by ear. Another counsellor, who was hired late in the season to replace someone, also asked for the day off.
Then things started to get a little… busy…

We had some volunteers that we had arranged to be there to cover our absence, but we also had someone (multiple people? I can’t remember) get sick, and some behaviour stuff, etc, etc. You know how it goes.

Only one of us was going to be able to leave.

The counsellor wanted to take the day (6am- 6pm ~12 hrs) off for a race she and her mom did annually – typically I’d be happy to accommodate something like that, but she hadn’t mentioned it when she was hired, even though I’d asked. And she let me know 3 days before she wanted the time off. So, nope, sorry.

I wanted to take the day off (6am – 6am ~ 24 hrs) to go to a ceremony for my dad, he was being inducted into the Judo Nova Scotia Hall of Fame, and it was a really big deal for him. Typically I’d give myself the time off for something so important to a family member, but I wasn’t about to leave camp when things weren’t running smoothly. If there’s trouble, I want to be there, dealing with it. Plus, I wanted the most time off (it would have been a 10 hour drive there and back, no way to shorten the time) and we just couldn’t lose the manpower for that long. My dad had the rest of the fam-jam there cheering him on, he’s a pretty understanding guy so he was ok with it. Most importantly, sometimes as the ‘ladyboss’ (as one of my staff used to call me.. haha) you have to make sacrifices. No brainer, I didn’t take time off.

The Head Counsellor wanted to take the afternoon off (12pm – 5pm ~ 5 hrs) to go to a baby shower for her future nephew. The baby shower was a big deal, it was super important to her – and most important to me, she had booked the time off really early and she wouldn’t be gone long. It was an easy decision, she got the time off.
In fact, since she knew things were a little… hectic… at camp. She even left a bit later and came back early. She was a rockstar.


Priorities & Choices

choices and priorities

I constantly say that each day is just a series of choices, and every choice comes with a result, good or bad (at least I know I’ve said it to my niece a lot – she mimics it back to me… haha) but realistically, each day is a series of choices about priorities.

Choose to have the conversation about behaviour before it gets out of hand and you’re prioritizing coaching and long term growth over ease and comfort (cause sometimes those conversations are awkward and uncomfortable and it would be SO EASY to just look the other way)

Choose the donut over eating healthy and you’re prioritizing instant gratification over long term benefits (or flexing your will power muscle, or even short term benefits – high blood sugar anyone? What ever your reasons are for trying not to eat that delicious, delicious donut)

My ACD and I determined a few years ago that our leadership team needed to better understand why we made certain decisions, and how we prioritized tasks, so we came up with a little training module to help them understand.

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll tell you all about it.


*Don’t get me wrong – I would also argue that camp is more than a job – it’s a way of life and a frame of mind – check out my LinkedIn profile for more on that. 🙂

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One thought on “Priorities – At Camp and in Life

  1. Pingback: Priorities – Part 2 | The Camp Nerd

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