Watch Out For One Another

In response to poor use of time-off: “Robin, we all need to blow off steam during our time-off. Working at camp is a demanding job. I’m worried that sometimes you’re not firing on all cylinders when you return from nights off and days off. I could be misreading this, but you often seem tired and less engaged when you come back. I can’t legislate how you spend your time-off, but I think we all need to return to camp relaxed, recharged, and ready to take care of children. For me, I always ask myself, ‘Am I returning to camp in better shape than when I left?’ That’s a good litmus test for whether I spent my time-off wisely. I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m taking care of other people’s children.”

In reality, staff may choose different words and phrases to express warm, humble, authentic critiques of others’ shortcomings and missteps. The exact language matters less than the tone and intention.

The best peer feedback is offered in a collaborative spirit, a spirit of “let’s get better together,” rather than in a haughty attitude of “I’m better than you are.” In so doing, the staff members help one another uphold a high standard.

Professionalism is learned, not obtained in a lecture. Rather than simply reading your policies on behavior management, rule breaking, time-off, and safe touch, encourage your staff to practice giving each other feedback on these professional parameters.

It’s unlikely you’ll be standing there when one of them acts unprofessionally this season. More likely, their peers will see that lapse long before you do. And if they remember “If you see something, say something,” then they are likely to stay on the professional road, even when their emotions cause them to start drifting across the median.

Dr. Christopher Thurber is the school psychologist at Phillips Exeter Academy, the waterfront director at Camp Belknap, and the co-founder of the leading web-based educational resource for youth leaders,

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Related posts:

  1. Universal Vulnerabilities
  2. Am I Oversharing?
  3. Kids’ Big Fears, Part II
  4. Continuous Professional Development
  5. For Juniors’ Sake

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