Reevaluating the Camp, Part 1

It’s a simple enough slogan but a much harder philosophy to train and establish. A plan needs to be created initially and then modified by the staff as a whole. All-staff meetings are the next step.

All-staff meetings are scary when they are held without structure and focus. Avoid unorganized meetings at all costs!

After holding the individual staff meetings, you will first make the necessary staff changes. This usually results in the parting of ways between the camp and the staff who are not interested in signing on with the new direction. Wish them luck and good fortune.

In our case, the all-staff meeting was held first to share the budget with the entire staff. We showed where camp has been for the past four years, our current retention rate, and the current obstacles to our budget.

The staff has a right to know. They have a right to be able to assist with the problems. Show them that how they treat our guests affects our retention and income.

Next, we discussed the underlying philosophy wrapped up in Kids and Guests First, what this means and how we implement it. What does it mean to them? How should camp approach this? Get their input.

Lastly, the choice of excellence! Inform the staff you are here for the kids and to make the camp and staff better. You want them to feel the same way.

Explain that the only way to accomplish excellence is to decide personally to be excellent. Pass out index cards and ask them to write down promises to themselves. Collect the cards and share them at each all-staff, then discuss them with the owner of the card individually.

The all-staff meeting should be held quarterly. Always share the current status of the camp financially and in the eyes of guests through evaluations.

Remind them of their promises and review your philosophy plan and customer service agenda. A total team effort will bring the staff along with you and to the camp’s aid.

Remember that all of this is only accomplished through consistent leadership from the director. Your word must stand for something. You must be viewed as fair and equal in dealing with your own people. You must be able to be wrong and admit it. Make your promises and keep them.

These leadership qualities add to the motivation for following you and your plans. Stay positive and do not lose your temper in embarrassing ways or situations where you belittle yourself and those around you.

Over the course of the year, we plan to go item by item, identifying each possible aspect of running a camp that we possibly can. Our hope is to provide ideas and solutions to perplexing problems, or just to tweak the process a bit to make running a camp easier and more efficient.

Good luck!

Jeff Merhige is the executive director of YMCA Camp Kern, Dayton YMCA, Dayton, Ohio.

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Related posts:

  1. Reevaluating the Camp, Part 2
  2. Collaborative Programming
  3. Collaborative Programming
  4. Flow & Tell
  5. The Recognition Factor

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