Tree House

Deliver messages directly…

Who’s the head honcho? This individual needs to deliver messages directly to the staff in addition to those delivered by the supervisory staff. Be purposeful and welcoming and communicate to the staff throughout the summer.

We all have good, talented people whom we trust working at our sides who are dedicated to the camp program, yet it is the director who should host the staff meeting. If you want to know what’s going on in your camp, then be there to ask the people who are spending 24/7 in it.

Empower the staff to join in…

Listen to ideas and create an environment that allows members the mental and emotional security to do the same. This enables staff to feel as if their work and opinions make a difference.

With this, they will more easily carry out your goals and feel empowered to share in your efforts. Make staff meetings fun; at each meeting establish a theme, have games with prizes, bring a snack, do whatever it takes to create a festive and playful environment. This not only keeps staff motivated and creates a secure environment, but it breaks down the negative and allows for better communication.

Take this time to ask the staff to evaluate the campers, give them a form to check off and write down their insight. Staff members who are asked specific questions about children take interest and feel appreciated by being asked.

Stay connected throughout the summer…

Walk around each day, it gets you out of the office and exercising. It also allows you to be seen, to talk and play with your camp members.

Create an employee questionnaire to determine if the environment intended for the staff is accomplishing their individual needs. By asking, you will be showing you care about them as people. You’ll be able to monitor their level of commitment and enthusiasm, which impacts the campers, and get ideas of staff needs for recruitment in the future.

Follow-up with your staff and campers…

At the end of a season, it is a good idea to have people complete surveys. These surveys could be either written or verbal and should be answered by the staff, campers and even the parents.

Read up on how to create a survey or consider hiring a professional because this information can be extremely informative, if you ask the right questions. Try not to take any negative responses you might receive as a personal attack, merely a difference in perspective. Surveys allow you to gather information and improve.

Survey samples can be found at www.camp-business.com. Scroll down and click on Forms to view them.

It’s not too late. If the season has already begun, start now. Every improvement you make during the season will leave a lasting impression as the season concludes.

I always get a kick when someone asks, “So, what do you do for a living?” Ultimately, the next question that follows is, “and then what do you do the rest of the year?”

A director of a camp, any camp, has a full time job. It doesn’t stop in the winter and it shouldn’t be handed over in the summer. Directors who get out there are the directors who run successful programs. If you want to insure that you have a safe, fun and enriching program that meets set expectations, start at the top.

Shellie Santay Visinski is the director of Pocono Ridge in South Sterling, Pa.

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Related posts:

  1. Great Expectations
  2. Post-Camp Check-Up
  3. The Recognition Factor
  4. Teamwork
  5. The Spirit of Camp

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