Every season for the final week of camp we do a little activity called Secret Friend. It’s like Secret Santa – but in the summer!
It’s a great way to re-energize staff and celebrate the end of the summer while you’re at it. Here’s how it works (at my camp at least)
On the last day of the second last session (week 7 for us) you ask the staff to pick names out of a hat (obviously if they get their own they choose another)
They then spend the break preparing for the week. That might include shopping, crafts, note writing, etc. (more on that later)
The actual activity starts on the first day of the last session. (We start on day 1, the day campers arrive. Not day 0 – which is the day before campers arrive)
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
Categories: If I Could Do It Over..., Self Care at Camp
Tags: camp culture, Counsellors, health, If I could do it over, mental health, reflection, self care, sleep hygiene, staff training, Supporting your staff, wellness
Want to know the fastest and easiest way to alienate your staff and make them feel unappreciated and disgruntled? Act like you’re better than them.
So here’s New Camp Director Pro Tip #4. Don’t do that. Or in other words, stay out of the ivory tower.
You’re in a position of authority, others look to you for advice and guidance now – awesome! That’s a pretty important role you have there but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands dirty sometimes too. Staff need to know that you respect them and one way to show them that is to work with them and not just shout orders from your throne (or desk, or lawn chair, or wherever else you might plunk yourself). Continue reading
Being a camp counsellor is an awesome job. It can be a hard, exhausting, emotionally and physically draining job – but man, it’s awesome! Camp counsellors are on duty 24 hours a day everyday while their campers are on site. They are expected to be patient, kind, understanding, fun, silly, full of energy, responsible, leaders, teachers, authority figures, role models, friends, confidants, and so much more – all at the same time. It’s a big job, and there are thousands of counsellors every summer who accomplish this and go above and beyond to give their campers an amazing summer. They are rock stars.
It’s up to the camp director and the leadership staff to make sure that camp counsellors are able to be rock stars for their campers. Continue reading
There are a several counsellor archetypes that tend to emerge on each staff team. It’s important to be able to recognize them and learn how to meet their needs.
Here are 10 common personality types that you’re likely to encounter:
1. The “I ❤ camp because it’s camp” counsellor
Common characteristics: this counsellor LOVES camp, they love the games, the singing, the tie dye wardrobe, and the tan lines. They’re strangely ok with early mornings, late nights, chores, and constantly being wet from being thrown in the lake. They are what we call a “lifer” they were probably a camper as a child and have worked their way up the ranks.
How to spot them: They’ll be decked out in tie dye, cargo shorts/ pants, TONS of friendship bracelets, tevas/ keds/ rain boots, and a great big smile. Continue reading