Three-Step Program

Hiring a staff to run the camp during the summer is the most time-consuming and important thing a camp director can do each year. How to get started? My suggestion is to make a plan!

Related Article: Signs of Life & Warning Signs

The best advice I ever heard about looking for something is to know exactly what to look for. The same is true with staff. One must decide what type of staff is wanted and what type of staff is needed to achieve the desired goal.

First: What do I want in a staff member?

The answer to this question can be a little tough unless you use the generic answers: fun, smart and safe. My challenge is to go deeper and find people of character and intelligence, who are fun, driven, kind, committed to a mission and willing to know camp goals and agree to those goals.

It is important to define the camp mission and the type of environment you want camp staff to create. During the interview process convey traits being sought out and the camp’s standards and expectations. This gives the potential staff member a chance to decide if they are interested. It will also save time in the hiring process. Remember to take the time to explain your camp and the way it works.

At this moment in each interview we tell the potential staff person that we are a “kids-first” facility and all staff are expected to exhibit four basic characteristics at all times: Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Also, we inform all potential candidates of our SSAD rule. The SSAD rule stands for, “no Smoking, Sex, Alcohol or Drugs” on the camp property at any time for any reason.

We also give all potential staff members a copy of administrative polices and procedures. It outlines basic rules and expectations. We also tell potential staff members pay and time-off policy from the start. It is important to weed out those people who will never consider the position based on the pay rate.

If the potential staff member is still interested, go to the second level of speaking with their references and discussing what they are interested in doing at camp.

So, in the interview process, we aim to know and identify the desired traits of a staff member, then we share our camp mission, policies and procedures right away.

If the potential staff member agrees to the guidelines and looks good on paper, we go the next step — references, a second interview and position particulars.

Where do I get staff?

This can be hard. I suggest four routes: College job fairs, Internet, newspaper and college internship programs.

College job fairs are a great resource and offer the opportunity to meet friends of past counselors. Use old staff to recruit at their universities and set up meetings before appearing to advertise camp jobs and positions.

Have veteran staff who attend the college represent the table for a couple of hours. Initially, it is easier for students to talk with staff who attend the same college.

Get a Web page! In this day and age it is the quickest way to advertise and pull resources from all over the country. We have just now started with Internet technology and it is wonderful. Warning… Still take the time to call the potential staff member and whenever possible meet with them. The Net is so easy it is very possible to overlook some steps in hiring.

Posting jobs, pay, mission, philosophy and pictures to present your camp to the prospective staff person can be an asset to any camp.

We do not have an on-line application process, but I think it would be an advantage. Applicants can send all of the required information and even answer the questions before an initial

interview has to take place, which cuts out the first step.

I also like the Internet for communication with staff, idea generation and contacting friends of staff who are interested in working at camp. The Net allows me to pursue leads given to me from staff on good candidates who just need information.

Local newspapers: It might seem outdated compared to the Net, but you may be surprised by the response you receive. A nice ad will still spark someone’s attention, most likely a parent who wants to help their college student find a job for the summer.

Parents love to cut things out and mention a job to those students who are so focused on school that the summer is the furthest thing in their mind.

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