Each And Every

Tier Three is the entire staff. These meetings should happen about once a week, typically after hours, when (at a day camp) the children have gone home or when (at a resident camp) a skeleton crew of young leaders can actively supervise the sleeping cabins.

These full-staff meetings should be brief (under 75 minutes) and include only that business that must be conducted with the entire staff or those quandaries that benefit most from the input or presence of the entire staff.

Among the best use of your Tier Three time is detailed review of a single camper case from the previous week. The director and the child’s counselors can co-lead a discussion or a debrief of an acute problem and the manner in which the staff dealt with the issue. Particularly helpful are suggestions for how a similar case could be managed better in the future.

When this tiered system (or one like it) is implemented, the chances are minimal that a camper will slip through the proverbial cracks. Every camper gets a look and the biggest problems get additional attention and skillful responses that are vetted by experienced peers.

Every staff member also benefits from the experiences of his or her peers with particularly tough cases.

We are at our best when we remember—as did the faculty at the school I visited—to act in the best interests all young people, not just the fun ones. Of course, not all problems can be solved at camp, but no problem should be ignored or dismissed.

Dr. Christopher Thurber is a board-certified clinical psychologist, father and author of The Summer Camp Handbook, now available online for free at SummerCampHandbook.com. He is the co-creator of ExpertOnlineTraining.com, a set of Internet-based-video training modules for camp counselors, nurses and doctors. He can be reached via e-mail at chris@campspirit.com.

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