Posts Tagged With: Supporting your staff

New Camp Director Pro Tip # 5 – Be Available

I talk a lot about fun & cute ways to support your staff, shout out walls, warm fuzzies, etc. but the most important way to support your staff is to actually, physically, be there for them. Let them know that you’re available to talk – or listen if when they need it. Then, actually BE available!

I know that as a camp director you have tons of work to do, ESPECIALLY as a new camp director… sometimes you feel like you have too many balls in the air, I totally get it.

I start during training session, I tell that staff that my ACD and I can be their “people” and that if they’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, confused, or any other emotion that makes them feel icky, they can come find us and we’ll talk, hug, scream, eat our feelings… whatever it is that they need.

Some camp directors are great at scheduling office hours to keep themselves on track and so staff know when they’re available to chat. That’s not one of my strengths.  My guess is that that type of system would work better for bigger camps with hundreds of staff and large leadership teams.

I run a small camp, I wear a lot of hats (figuratively AND literally – I really like hats!) so one minute I can be submitting payroll, the next I can be helping wash dishes, and the next I can be hanging out with a counsellor and their camper who just needed a little down time. So I have to make sure I carve out time to check in with staff, and to let them know that even though I may LOOK busy – I’m never too busy for them.

hats Continue reading

Categories: New Camp Director Pro Tip | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Supporting your staff – Part 4 – Secret Friend

santa catEvery 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)

Timeline:

Choosing Names
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)

Shopping/ Prep
They then spend the break preparing for the week. That might include shopping, crafts, note writing, etc. (more on that later)

Leaving Goodies
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)

Continue reading

Categories: Staff Encouragement & Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Categories: If I Could Do It Over..., Self Care at Camp | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Supporting your staff – Part 2 – Warm Fuzzies

Every camp has different ways of making their staff feel appreciated and of celebrating success. One of my favourite ways to do this is by giving Warm Fuzzies. Warm Fuzzies are encouraging little notes that you give each other as a pick me up or to say ‘job well done’.

Here are some ways to run a warm fuzzie program for your staff:

1. Write each staff person’s name on an envelope with the open end facing up. It can be any size envelope just as long as it has an open top.

I like: To use a manila envelope, make sure both ends are closed, then cut it down the middle – voila two warm fuzzie envelopes for the price of one!

2. Either decorate the envelopes for the staff as a ‘gift’ or have them decorate it themselves to personalize it.

I like: To decorate them for my staff, my ACD and I usually get together toward the end of training session and try to personalize the envelopes based on what we’ve learned about each person, music notes, polka dots, sports stuff, etc. (although I must admit, the photo below is all my ACD’s handiwork! I missed out this year)

IMG_20140618_214939

Continue reading

Categories: Staff Encouragement & Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Categories: Quotable Camp | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Quick Tips – Running a Meeting (with camp counsellors)

Meetings are a part of the job, not everybody likes them but they’re a great way to pass information, check in with people and highlight some of the positives or give feedback about what you’d like to see happen. Here are some lessons I learned along the way to prevent grumbles from your staff when they hear there’s a meeting.

1. Be Positive.
Nobody likes a Negative Nelly (sorry Nelly, you know it’s true). Try to find ways to focus on the positives, and smile. Chances are your staff are tired and either want to get on with their day, or go to bed (depending on meeting time) so send them off on a positive note. Give high fives.

Great Meeting!! High Five!!
                                                              big-ashb / Foter / CC BY

  Continue reading

Categories: 5 Quick Tips | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Supporting your staff – Part 1- Take a break

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

Categories: Staff Encouragement & Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Categories: If I Could Do It Over... | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.