Staff Conscious

They know, and if they do break the clearly defined rules… then it was their choice and not the scary unfair director in the office who held them to a standard they didn’t know about.

Open & Honest

As you explain the rules, be honest and open with your staff.

There should be no fear in discussing the realities that you are aware of… Staff will have relationships with one another this summer, they will party on their time off, they will make mistakes in dealing with children, they will break things, they will fight with one another, and so on. Talk about these realities and how you feel about them. Be honest.

Most of us have been in their shoes once before. We did not develop into camp directors because we were the most perfect counselors who ever walked the planet (even though we might think that sometimes, or our staff might think that about us).

Each summer I have always told my staff my greatest fears… Losing a camper is number one and losing a staff member is number two.

We are responsible for lives. Losing any life is horrible, but losing a life because of carelessness and temporary lack of judgment is worse.

Losing a staff member because they partied too hard on their 24 hours off is a waste. We talk about that in our training week. My heart has always gone out to those directors who have had to face this reality. Talk about it with your team.

Be Consistent

Everything discussed is useless without being consistent. Work on this every day and every night throughout the entire summer. Establish you style through your consistency and people will follow you and return to be with you, namely campers and staff!

One of the greatest lines in a movie was in “The American President”. Michael J. Fox’s character said, “People want leadership… They are so starved for it that they will crawl through a desert to drink from the sand.”

We should strive to be good leaders. We are leading a staff and we are role modeling to children. Teach them consistency and fairness. This will lead to great people who remember your example. Isn’t that what camp should be?

Eye on the Goal

The campers and their positive camp experience will always be the goal. Through these steps and incorporating your own style you will lead a great team to deliver a great summer.

Staff will have a great time no matter what happens. Teach them that they will learn more about themselves and their co-workers by giving themselves completely to the kids. The kids will learn that there are people who will care for them unconditionally.

And through that bond of shared experiences both campers and staff with have the magical summer that all camps have the ability to provide.

It all happens through creating that place for kids. Directors and staff both reawaken the child inside and find out how simple it can be to be happy, no matter how complicated we believe our lives are. All of this is for the kids.

Good luck…

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

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Related posts:

  1. Summer of Surprises
  2. The Recognition Factor
  3. Three-Step Program
  4. Collaborative Programming
  5. Collaborative Programming

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