If I Could Do It Over…

Work/ Work balance

Everyone has heard of work/ life balance… it can be challenging to achieve at times and most people struggle with it. But camp directors have an additional struggle… and that’s work/ work balance. A camp director WANTS to be out with the campers, it’s good for the staff to learn by their example, it’s good for the campers to see them around and get to interact with them, it’s good for the camp because they have their eye on things, and most importantly, it’s fun!!
But, there’s also office work to be done. Phone calls to return, emails to send, reports to write, meetings to be had. All of the things that go into running a business.

One of the things I wish I had done differently over the years is to create a better work/ work balance. It’s something I continue to struggle with today and if I’m being honest, the last few summers the scales have definitely been tipping toward the office work side of things… which is such a bummer.

work: work balance

Based on this photo, I’m not sure why I’m so eager to show up to programs!

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How To Stop Making Assumptions

How to stop making assumptions

 

Here’s a fun game, here are three quick stories that have a common theme… see if you can figure out what it is. (Hint: it’s in the title of the blog post!!)

Last summer I had a conversation with my LIT (Leader In Training) Director that went a little something like this:

Me: Ok, so our numbers for the 4 week program are down, why don’t we start offering 1 or 2 week sessions as an option.

Him: Yeah, we had already talked about that being a possibility, so I went ahead and told them they could do that.

Me: Oh, well, ok.
Does some quick math (on a calculator obviously, because I can’t do much math in my head)
Me: Tell them they can pay x amount for one week, x amount for 2 weeks or the original x amount for the full 4 weeks.

Him: Well I already told them they could pay x amount for 1 & 2 weeks.

Me: Oh…why did you do that? Continue reading

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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

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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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If I could do it over… the ACD confusion

My first summer as a seasonal camp director was SO exciting! I was jazzed that I had actually gotten the job, I had so many ideas and plans and lists, and I was thrilled that my assistant camp director was someone who I had worked with before as a counsellor, and was someone who I liked and respected. I knew it was going to be an amazing summer.

Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as it could have been. Things went wrong. Mistakes were made, and it got hard. Now, not all of the mistakes were mine – but those are the only ones I’ll talk about because those were the only ones I had any control over, and while I can learn (and have learned) from other people’s mistakes, it’s not my place to point them out or discuss them openly. So here are the things I wish I’d done differently when working with my ACD my first summer as a camp director.

Mistake 1

I didn’t have a full understanding of what my role was in relation to my ACD. 
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If I could do it over… the mohawk incident

When I was a first year director I had a “problem counsellor” (looking back, I now realize that I was part of the problem but I couldn’t see it then), he wasn’t a bad guy or anything, just a little bit clueless… kind of a bud (see my Who Are Your Counsellors post, and check out the flower description).

We had already had a couple of run in’s and ‘serious conversations’ by the time the mohawk incident happened, so I have to admit I was already a little annoyed and impatient with him.
Here’s what happened:

I had just gotten back from a town trip and realized that something from one of my bags has spilled all over the back of the camp van, so I was furiously trying to clean it up, and I was pretty grumpy about it because it was a sweltering hot day and the last thing I wanted to do was scrub the carpeted trunk of a too hot van. Continue reading

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