Quotable Camp

At Camp, We Dance!

Does your camp constantly break out into spontaneous dance parties?

 

Yep, mine too.

How amazing is that?

There have been many times I’ve gotten a kick out of it; there was one summer when we had to explain to the staff that no, we can’t program in “spontaneous dance parties” because that’s just not how spontaneity works; it’s been a running joke ever since.

When we do have actual, legitimate spontaneous dance parties they are a phenomenal energy builder, a 5 – 15 minute dance party between programs or when everyone is feeling low energy (like on a rainy day) is a huge moral booster!

 

There was also the summer (many moons ago, at my old camp) that the ACD and I gave the staff 15 minutes of down time while we went to set up the evening activity – which was going to be a team building session.

When we returned to fetch them we could hear the music long before we got to the building, then we could see jumping and dancing through the windows before we entered.

We walked into pure pandemonium, there was a high energy dance party going down, they were dancing on tables, on chairs, and bopping all around the floor.

We both burst out laughing (then we politely asked them to carefully step down from the tables and chairs if they were going to continue dancing… then we used that as an excellent example during a risk management session later that week… but I digress)

We put our team building session on hold, because they were bonding on their own, in a way they came up with, and in a way that works.

And it’s not just my camp – camp communities everywhere experience this amazing ritual.

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The Campers Come First Philosophy

Campers Come First

“Campers Come First”
Said every camp staff ever.

Yes. Absolutely. 100%
You are correct, friend.

Except, do our staff really know what we mean when we say that?

A few years ago, I had just taken over a shiny new director job, facilitated training session, went over all of our policies, taught best practices… everything went great.

Or so I thought. (dun dun dunnn)

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Quotable Camp – Choose Wisely

choose wisely Continue reading

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Quotable Camp – We could be heroes…

Superheros

OK, Here’s the thing. I work at a camp for children, youth, and adults with disabilities and people tell me and my camp colleagues all the time that we’re “heroes” for doing what we do.

Nope.

We’re not.

We’re just people. Working with other people. It’s that simple.
Working at my camp doesn’t make my staff special – they get the job because they’re already special and wonderful, and the campers benefit from that, but there’s nothing heroic about doing the job. In fact, everyone who has worked at my camp would tell you it’s a privilege to work with our group of campers, not any kind of sacrifice or heroic act.

Know what else? Continue reading

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Quotable Camp – The Cult of the Director

Cult of the director

The best leaders don’t hoard information and knowledge out of fear of being replaced. They have the confidence to plan for the future, and share information and resources to help others grow. We like to call it our “if I get hit by a bus plan”. A little morbid, I know, but it really gets to the point.

As a camp director or program leader it’s our job to shape the culture of the camp, to create an environment where people understand what’s expected of them on an organizational level, and want to excel because that’s the cultural norm of the camp. It’s fantastic if your staff like, respect, and admire you, in fact that’s also a huge part of being a successful leader, and it makes it a lot easier when getting them to buy in to the camp values. But if they’re following the rules, or doing certain aspects of their job only because you’re their pal and they don’t want to let you down… then you need to re-evaluate your camp culture. They should be doing these things because it’s the right thing to do and if your relationship with them is an added incentive, then great, even better. Continue reading

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Quotable Camp – On Change

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”
Libba Bray

Change can be hard, especially at summer camp where so much is rooted in tradition. Unfortunately, not all traditions are good, or healthy, or worth keeping. But people hold on to them because that’s what they did as campers, or in their first summer as a staff member (which in some cases was LAST YEAR!)

And some “traditions” aren’t even traditions! They’re habits, bad habits.

So as a new Camp Director, how do you break those habits, shift the camp culture, and create new, healthy habits (that will hopefully become traditions).

One step at a time, friend. Continue reading

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