Don’t Forget To Ask For Help

Even though I have been in summer camp and youth development work for 20 years now, I am fully aware that I don’t have all the answers.

Help is out there -- just ask!

I know for some people this can be a difficult admission, but if you spend any time with me, you know I can be full of opinions, but not full of answers. Luckily, I am not afraid to ask for help.

Here are some things that I have asked for help, feedback and guidance with in the past week:

● Drafting an inclusion statement and policy for campers

● Drafting a policy for on-site housing for year-round camp employees

● Articulating clear expectations to staff members

● Prioritizing facility needs at one of our resident camps

● Keeping me more organized (losing battle)

● Career training and time investment (I have to work another 20+ years)

● Major donor cultivation

● Planned giving

I asked for help from my CEO, my boss, a human resources staff member, our vice president of development.

I sought input from co-workers, volunteers, board members, staff members, the foreman on one of our construction projects — basically, if you had any contact with me recently, I asked you for help.

Why is this? Because my camp, my volunteers, my board members, my staff and my YMCA deserve better than what I am right now. My value is in my ability to grow and learn.

Here are some things I have learned by being willing to ask for help:

1. People are eager to assist

2. It adds value to the other person

3. It adds value to me

4. It brings individuals closer to our cause and mission

5. It cultivates volunteers and board members

6. It cultivates donors

I am much smarter now than I was a little over a week ago and this is mainly due to the fact that I was willing and open to ask for assistance.

Take the opportunities (or create your own) to ask for help and be willing to learn from those around you.

Dave Bell has directed day and resident camp programs for more than 15 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Camping Services for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. He is a former American Camp Association Southeast Section board member, a certified Y-USA Day Camp Director Trainer and a Y-USA partner YMCA camp consultant. Reach him via e-mail at

Related posts:

  1. Keep Staff Spirits Up
  2. Summer’s Over; What Now?
  3. Summer’s Over; What Now?
  4. Overcoming Mid-Season Slump
  5. Rehabilitate Or Replace?

3 comments on “Don’t Forget To Ask For Help

  1. George Loney on said:

    Appreciate Dave Bell’s article, “Don’t Forget To Ask For Help”. A real encouragement to me as I have sought to practice what he has put into words for many years … which I never seem able to do. So, thanks for your insight, Dave, and help.

  2. Art Harrison / Camp Consultant on said:


    Enjoyed your “Don’t Forget ——” !!!
    Somewhere in your camp history files you may find a set of master plans with my name on, created many years ago for Camp Orkila (’70) !!! I also did plans for Camp Reed (’78): Longview Center (’80); Camp Seymour (’70); and Camp Collins (’70) and, 16 other non-profit organization camps in Washington and Oregon, between !970 and 1992 !!!

    I’m just enjoying my 85th birthday; have my professional license and still practice in the camp consulting business !!! Hope you have a great year at Orkila in 2012. I was there when they obtained a surplus military landing craft to transport campers from the mainland !!! Great memories !!!

    Art Harrison / President
    Harrison / Associates, inc
    Camp Planning / Development Consutlant
    714 Airport Road
    Ames, Iowa 50010

  3. Janine on said:

    Interesting read – thanks Dave!
    Seeing as we’re on the topic of asking for help… Did you manage to get any good advice on this topic: “Drafting a policy for on-site housing for year-round camp employees”?
    We are going to start building on-site housing for our permanent staff and counselors and I have already been racking my brain thinking of what kinds of rules and policies would need to be in place before staff can be assigned their houses.
    I think asking for help – especially in our field – is something that many people don’t do often enough. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

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