New Camp Director Pro Tip

International Camp Directors Course 2017

 

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Hey camp friends,

Remember when I shared this post  back in in December?

Well in case you didn’t read it, the Reader’s Digest Version ( for those of you who don’t get the reference, that means the abridged version. Am I dating myself? Do people still read Reader’s Digest? My friends used to tease me mercilessly when I was a teenager because I LOVED that little magazine.) is that I was a huge fan and I think everyone should take the course.

 

Here’s a promo video they shot during our course that showcases the awesomeness of it!

Check it out!

The next courses will be hosted in Sochi, Russia in October 2017 (more info TBA – keep an eye on the ICDC Sochi page for more info) and YMCA Camp Elphinstone in BC, Canada November 22 -26, 2017

Check out the Canadian Camping Association’s website for more info and the ICDC Canada 2017 page to apply.

Seriously, if you’re interested in advancing your career in camping, you should take this course.

 

You can thank me later. 🙂

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Camp Counsellor Hiring Season

Woah, what a whirlwind couple of weeks. I finished up my full-time camp director job, officially got started working with the faith-based camp I mentioned in this post and launched Patchwork Marketplace. It’s been chaotic and SO MUCH FUN!!

But once again, my little blog took a hit when it came to managing my time, so I apologize for that – especially to Dan who asked a pretty great question about staff hiring and balancing that with camp prep and the million other things you need to do this time of year.

So, even though it’s later than I had planned… here’s some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, although I’m so far from an expert in any of this, I hope my experiences will help at least a little.

hiring-staff

Fitting it all in

Ok, so I realize this is probably not very helpful at this time of year but it’s worth saying anyway, usually in September or early October I create my work plan and map out when and how I’m going to accomplish all of my big tasks throughout the year.
I try to get the bulk of my program planning, pre summer prep completed in the fall because I know from January to May is going to be straight out madness. (That made sense for my schedule, each camp program is so unique that you will likely need to adapt that to your specific schedule.)

I was the only person solely dedicated to camp in my organization, so that meant I did everything from staff recruiting & hiring, to program development, and even camper registration – we had a development team so I got a small reprieve from grant writing and marketing, but worked quite a bit with the team to help in those areas too… so I totally get that overwhelming feeling of needing to do everything and never having enough time. I feel your pain!

What I started doing the last few years was carving out certain parts of my day for specific tasks – for instance I had a little checklist of things I needed to do for registration and I would go through that first thing in the morning and right after lunch (simply because the mail arrived after lunch and since it was a pretty recent transition to an online registration system we still had quite a few mail applications, and I always worked on it first thing in the morning so I would have answers if someone asked me how registration was going later in the day). Continue reading

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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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Self Care at Camp

You guys! I have some exciting news… ok well it’s mostly only exciting for me.

But I wanted to share!!

You know how I talk A LOT about self-care, and how we need to encourage and support our staff to practice good self care. Well it turns out that it actually works!!! haha

Ever since I started directing camps two things have always bookmarked my experience, a pre- season cold sore, and a post season migraine. Fun, right?

 

bookmarks
Cold sore & migraine, the bookmarks to my camp experience for 10 years

 

So this year I decided to actually practice what I’ve been preaching and I set some goals for self-care.

(Check out this post to find out what I’ve said in the past about self-care.)

They weren’t anything too lofty, I had checklist of 5 items on my phone, and I would try to do some combination of at least 3 of them every day. (During the camp pre-season I was checking off all 5 every day.)

Here’s my list:

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Sending out an S.O.S

So here’s a (well-known?) fact about me.

I hate asking for help.

I hate it. Seriously.

Especially in my career. I don’t think it makes me look weak or anything like that, I know it doesn’t. I’m just stubborn I guess.

I was “brought up” in a camp culture where we powered through things, and made due, and solved problems with creative solutions… and laughed the whole time at the ridiculousness of the situation.

I still do all of those things, in fact, I pride myself on being able to do all of those things. I consider myself one heck of a creative problem solver, and it typically takes A LOT to really freak me out, and I spend most of my days laughing at the utterly ridiculous things that happen at camp.

But…

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Speak Up for Yourself

In the past week I’ve had two very different experiences that turned out unexpectedly well and I was pleasantly surprised, I also learned a little something about myself. So I thought I’d share them with you.

Getting Things I Want

I finally had a meeting about my end of season report, it’s a pretty extensive report and I always make a lot of recommendations in it that I think will improve our program.

Now, as I mentioned in my wish list post I think it’s important to make sure that you’re making others aware of what you want/ need for your program just in case they’re willing to give it to you but I never expect to get everything I ask for… at least, not right away.

So I went into my meeting thinking that I would get about half of the stuff I had highlighted as a priority, and I expected one of the recommendations to be greeted with a hard “no”.

This was something that would actually improve camper and staff experience, but would cost us a few bucks, and when your program has a tight budget, you expect anything that will cost a few bucks to be shot down pretty quickly.

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Keeping Your Campers Hydrated

We hit a bit of a heat wave this summer.
Guys, it was HOT.

We’re always very aware of the need to keep our campers hydrated but this was a red alert situation, so we had to get creative. Here are two ways we made keeping our campers safe and healthy a little easier.

  1. We got the campers involved.
    My camp’s brilliant assistant camp director, Donna McPherson came up with a great (and super cute) system for getting our campers involved in making sure they were getting enough H20. She created a template where each camper got to put a sticker on their glass each time they had a glass of water, and she called it a Water Log (so clever and cute!!).

    Now, I don’t know about you guys, but as soon as someone says “stickers” I’m in. (But, as we’ve already established I’m kind of a nerd, so maybe not everyone gets as excited about stickers as I do. Although I find that hard to believe.)

Water Log Continue reading

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A quick healthy snack for busy days

Sometimes camp gets a little chaotic, am I right?

There have been times where I’ve missed more than one meal, and realize that I’ve not had nearly enough (or any) water that day.

Those days aren’t great on the ol’ Personal Care O’Meter (man, I wish that actually existed!! That would be a super fun tool to use)

Annnnyway…

On those days when I don’t have time to turn around and think let alone sit down and eat a meal, I will try to grab a smoothie that I can sip on the go.

I try to have a few ready to blend smoothie bags ready to go for my most hectic days.

Here’s how I make mine.

Step 1.

Assemble ingredients
I don’t use dairy so I have some alternatives here, but you do you, man.

Kale
Spinach
Bananas
Almond Fresh (dairy milk alternative)
So Delicious yogurt (dairy yogurt alternative)
Frozen mangos
Frozen mixed tropical fruit

IMG 2940

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A Fun New Accessory

Oh hi friends! Fancy meetin’ you here!

I just finished my second camper session and my fourth week of camp all together. The weather’s been a bit chilly but overall it’s been a blast!!

I wanted to take a second to share a super brilliant (if I may say so myself) camp director hack with you.

Okay, so, know how you need to carry a crap ton of stuff with you around all day? Such as:

  • Your cellphone
  • A walkie talkie
  • A small notebook to jot down reminders (for meetings, to do lists, etc)
  • A pen/pencil/crayon (something to write with)
  • A bazillian keys
  • Gloves (if you don’t carry them, you should start)
  • Snacks (or is that just me?)
  • I also end up carrying around the camp cordless phone a lot too

While a lot of camp staff rock fanny packs, and somehow make them look “cool”, but if you’re like me and you were a child of the 80’s/ teen of the 90’s, you just can’t ever bring yourself to wear one (in a serious way, anyway – I’ll regularly rock one for my alter ego’s costume “super dork” for super hero theme days … anyone else noticing a theme in names that I give myself? hmm… might be something to think about)

Super Dork

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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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