It’s Lonely At The Top

As a kid, a teenager, and even as a young adult, I loved camp. I planned my camping career path tirelessly as I worked my way from counselor, up through the ranks to senior leadership—program director, assistant director, and finally … my ultimate goal—summer camp director. So after careful planning, on-the-job training and experiences, talking to other camp professionals, and plenty of post-secondary education and certification, things were great! Programs ran smoothly, registration was improving, and people seemed happy … so why did I feel like I was struggling so much?

After 2 years of summer-camp directing, I realized I was lonely. It seemed ridiculous. How could I be lonely in one of the most social places specifically designed to enrich lives by meeting new people and creating meaningful relationships? People are not supposed to be lonely at summer camp! My frustration grew, and I became angry that my position as the leader had separated me from friendships with staff members, something I value highly. It was one of the key factors that kept me rooted in camp-based career ambitions.

Rather than stew in my frustration, I set about a well-established plan so my interactions with staff remained valuable, meaningful, and beneficial to the camp, while avoiding any “professional pickles” that might arise.

Take the time to talk to other directors, camp professionals, and corporate managers about what they deem as proper and appropriate social interactions in the workplace.  © Can Stock Photo Inc. / 3DAgentur

Take the time to talk to other directors, camp professionals, and corporate managers about what they deem as proper and appropriate social interactions in the workplace.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / 3DAgentur

Although there’s much to consider when planning interactions with staff members, the following should help reduce confusion, set appropriate boundaries, and still facilitate relationships that are mutually meaningful to the camp, the camp staff, and you!

Friendly Vs. Too Far

While every relationship is different, treating relationships differently at camp is bound not only to create discipline issues, but to create uncomfortable situations that can be harmful to the staff, the image of the camp, and ultimately your position as camp director. Take the time to talk to other directors, camp professionals, and corporate managers about what they deem as proper and appropriate social interactions in the workplace. Be sure to highlight camp-specific issues and situations, as the residential nature of camp often makes interactions with subordinate staff more challengeing. Discuss various issues regarding the age, maturity, and related development level of employees, since the issues are much different from those in the corporate world.

After these discussions, make notes, record your thoughts, think critically, and then review. The more you formulate a clear personal code of conduct (other than the basics outlined by your organization and relevant governing bodies), the more likely you are to automatically act appropriately in a tricky situation.

Communicate Clearly

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