Evaluate Your Performance

Summer is over, the last bus has left, and the last counselor has said goodbye. Somewhere between wrapping up the season and a nice, long vacation (I hope), one might wonder if there is a way to prepare for the next camp.

Camp's over -- it's time to get some feedback.

Is there a class to take? A book to read? Some type of continuing education to pursue?

Self-improvement is a fundamental theme of any camp, and the example should start at the top.

But who are the most effective teachers for camp directors and permanent staff?

Remember that old song lyric by Oscar Hammerstein: “If you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.”

Of course you learn new things every season, but did you learn everything you could? During the rush of summer, it’s difficult to think seriously of ways to improve the camp experience and your own skills–problems of the moment always seem to take priority. But now that camp is settling down, it’s the perfect time to seek feedback from campers, their families, and staff.

Not only are you sure to learn something, but you’ll find doing so has several additional and unexpected benefits.

Feedback And Leadership

Asking for honest feedback can be tough. But consider asking:

• How did I do last summer?

• Was there something that I did that made your summer better? (Be sure to include positive questions!)

• Was there something I did–maybe something I didn’t even notice–that caused a problem for you?

• Was there something you think I should have done that I didn’t?

• What do you think I can do to improve for next summer in the way I do my job?

Instead of asking generic questions such as, “How was camp last summer?” asking specific questions about yourself focuses on your actions and conduct, and acquires feedback that is likely to be more practical and relevant.

It is difficult to ask these types of questions because one might appear weak or uncertain. Yet, asking for feedback with confidence actually strengthens the way people perceive a leader. After all, only a confident person would ask these questions without being afraid to face the answers.

Asking for feedback also sets a powerful example to campers and staff. If you can do it, so can they. And it makes you look wise and intelligent. Why? Think about it–isn’t it flattering when someone asks for an opinion? It shows they respect you–an obvious sign that they are perceptive individuals.

Not only does asking for feedback help you learn, build stature as a leader, and set an example, but it’s also a powerful recruiting tool.

If people see that you care about their opinions, it means you care about them, and they will be more likely to want to return to camp. So be sure to ask for feedback not only from campers, parents and counselors whom you want to return, but especially from older campers whom you would like to see return as Counselors in Training.

Make use of technology in evaluating your leadership.

When approaching people for feedback, be sure to stress:

• That you want them to be honest.

• That they can speak openly without fear of any consequences.

• That you will keep what they say confidential, if they wish.

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