Administration

International Camp Director Course

 

From November 8th – 12th, 2016 I participated in the International Camp Director Course run by the International Camping Fellowship and It. Was. AWESOME!

The information we covered was pretty standard stuff you’d expect at a course like this, and I had at least one “ah-ha” moment in each workshop.

By far the best part was learning from the AMAZING facilitators and the sharing and discussion that happened organically around the room.

 

The Facilitators

The course was facilitated by Connie Coutellier, who is from the USA and is the ICDC coordinator, Jen Dundas, and Donna Wilkinson who are both Canadian camp professionals and all three of these women are an AMAZING wealth of knowledge!!!

I absolutely loved learning from them during our workshops, but I also really loved just chatting with them and “picking their brains” when we weren’t in workshops.

I’m gushing, I know. But they were just really wonderful, and I’m just so grateful that I got to know them.

facilitators

 

The Facility

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Categories: Administration, New Camp Director Pro Tip | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Making Friends in Blog Land

Hi guys,

Do you know what’s nice about blogging? It’s a lot like camp.

People are supportive of each other, and there’s no feeling of competition (at least not in this little niche of camp blogging) we’re all working towards a common goal of inspiring, educating, and informing current and future camp folk. Because after all, it’s still all about the campers, right? And the more we share and collaborate, the better our individual programs will be.

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So, on that topic (ok, all this was really just to get to that segue.. haha) I wanted to tell you that I wrote a guest blog post over at Summer Camp Programming about the Top 5 Reasons To Work At A Camp For People With Disabilities. 

Check it out! 🙂

And while you’re there, Continue reading

Categories: Administration, The Path We Take... | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Celebrate Your Wins

I mentioned in this post a while back that I keep a notebook of the wins I’m excited about from each summer. Some are great big, pat on the back wins and some of them are teeny tiny personal wins.

I like to list the ones that are most important to me so that I can reflect on them later to help keep my work in perspective (especially if I need to balance something that’s challenging me). I also like to include some inspiring quotes, because that’s just the kind of person I am.

So I thought I’d share the last few years entries with you guys to hopefully inspire you to create a win book of your own. Continue reading

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It’s the most stressful time of the year

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This is how I feel at the moment.

To be honest, this is how I feel every year at this time. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I try to do in advance, it never fails that April and May are just… bonkers!

It feels like I have hundreds of things on my To Do list, and dozens of them are super, ultra, major, high importance. And time just keeps on moving forward – camp is sort of like the theatre, regardless of whether you’re ready or not, the show must go on. The campers are going to show up with their suitcases and high expectations and we have to be able to deliver. 

And life keeps happening (so to speak… ) sometimes things happen where I have to take a step back and make time for family and loved ones, but the work stuff doesn’t go away. It just sits, and waits, and grows. 

Even though some of my favourite things take place during this time of year like getting to know new staff hires, getting ready for staff development week, hyping up camp for campers and returning staff – it’s also by far the most stressful time of year too.

And unfortunately this little blog, that I really enjoy writing, always ends up taking a back seat to the super, ultra, major, high importance things on my list, and to my family obligations. So I’m sorry for that, I have about 5 or 6 posts that just aren’t quite ready to share yet, but are in the works (and have been for a while… hahaha… sorry)

 

Unfortunately this is not one of those times where I might have a bit of advice about something I’ve learned from these situations in the past. This is just me… venting? complaining? making excuses? stating facts? All of the above, I guess.

All I know is that this is my hardest time of year every year, and if you’re feeling it too – I sympathize. 

And if you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to share them in the comment section below, or just vent, that works too.

 

 

Categories: Administration, Self Care at Camp | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Priorities – Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about priorities at camp and in life (you can see that here) and I thought that I would expand on that a little bit.

I’ve noticed over the years that the staff don’t always know what the Camp Director’s daily priorities are (I mean, beyond the obvious health, safety, and well being of the campers and staff) or how their their leaders prioritize things.

I know that when I was a first year counsellor I had no sweet clue what my director’s priorities were… or even what they really did all day…

And I’ve had that question asked to me by staff over the years “so… like… what do you DO all day?” – if I’m asked that question it is definitely a wake up call that I am not communicating effectively.
(ALTHOUGH I wrote the draft of this post before I listened to the Camp Code Podcast # 15 – Building Your Summer Camp Leadership Team, and Ruby Compton said something that really struck me. She said that the job of a camp director is to run things so smoothly that people DO ask, “what do you do all day?”, and compared it to her former role as a sound tech for live theatre … listen to the podcast, she explains it so much better than me. BUT it really got me thinking and has definitely changed my perspective on that question! I’m going to have to spend some time with it and let it swirl around in my head a little bit, but I’m very intrigued by this new perspective. )

So my ACD and I sat down and came up with a short exercise to do with our head counsellors (who make up our leadership team, they would be considered “mid- level managers” in a typical organization structure) to help them understand how we prioritize, and then move the conversation into delegating and why it’s important.

It’s just a brief 20 minute exercise, we give them a typical ‘to-do’ list from a day at camp and get them to prioritize it, when they’re just about done and have their wonderful organized list, we throw them a curveball. They then have to re- prioritize and delegate some of the work.

To Do List Activity

This is a copy of one of the faux to-do lists that someone already started prioritizing.

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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.

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Categories: Administration | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

When your best just isn’t good enough

Buckle up friends, I’m about to get really real…

Camp season 2015 has ended, and it was definitely one of the most challenging summers I’ve ever experienced. Pretty much everything that you can imagine could go wrong, did. From major registration system problems, to food orders not showing up, to camper issues, I had it all. Fortunately I had a really stellar team so we got through it all without the campers being any the wiser (and if I’m being honest the majority of the staff had no idea what issues I was dealing with ‘behind the scenes’.)

So I got back to the city on Saturday, and on Tuesday I popped in the office to stay hi and drop off some stuff before heading back to camp on Thursday to finish shutting down for the season.

My supervisor (the Executive Director of Programming for my organization – who manages her own program besides supporting me and my program) asked when I’d be back in the office next because we needed to chat about some stuff.
I didn’t like the sound of that, so I asked her if we could just talk now since I was already in her office.

(In hindsight, that was a really bad call, I was still so exhausted from the summer and not in a good place to be having any reflective, serious conversations)

She told me (in the nicest way possible, because she really is wonderful and one of my favourite humans) that there were some issues this summer that we needed to talk about, communication being the biggest one, and that our CEO had asked her to talk to me about it.

Cue record scratch sound.

Ulgh. Continue reading

Categories: Administration, If I Could Do It Over... | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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What is a… Campmance?

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

Categories: Administration | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Small Victories, Big Results

It’s October! The leaves are turning colours, people are cozying up in their big sweaters while eating all things pumpkin, and camp directors all throughout the land are reflecting on their previous summer.
This is a hugely important part of the evaluation and planning process and all too often we look at the previous summer through a lens of finding ways to improve next year.

But wait…  we often forget to celebrate our successes, big and small. There’s a quick nod of appreciation or an email sent around congratulating us on increasing the camper numbers or coming in under budget, but do we really celebrate those things?  Continue reading

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