Category Archives: Writers

Who’s Your Oboe?

Which staffer sets the tone for your summer camp?

My wife and I were at the symphony last weekend. As is customary, the concertmaster (the violinist who sits closest to the conductor) stood up and pointed to the oboist. The oboist then played an A note at 440 hertz, the worldwide tuning standard. The woodwinds matched the note, then the brass. Then the oboist cranked out another A and the strings tuned up. You’ve probably all heard an orchestra settle in just before the conductor walks out. Last weekend … Continue reading

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Know Your Audience

Do you have staff members whose growl is worse than their bite?

“The most important skill for the people who feed our tiger is that they remember to lock the door when they leave.” These were the irrefutable words of wisdom proffered by my friend, Denis, who directs educational programming at a large zoo in a big city. Denis was dropping some knowledge on the other youth development professionals who participated in Directors’ Camp 2012, held this past weekend in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire. (http://DirectorsCamp.com) “Of course,” Denis continued, “conscientious adults who understand … Continue reading

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Manners Matter

Yes, table manners DO matter! Photo courtesy of Christopher Thurber

Early in the history of organized summer camps, cooks sparked a debate. Directors on one side of the debate argued that camps should be egalitarian utopias that teach self-reliance. Therefore, children should cook for themselves. No servants. Stoke the campfire and bust out the mess kits, they argued. The more children did for themselves at camp, the better. Hired help–cooks, custodians, or groundskeepers–created a class society. Quite the opposite of camps’ stated mission. Directors on the other side of the debate … Continue reading

Posted in Camp Business, Columns & Features, Dr. Chris Thurber, Issues, Sept/Oct 2012, Staff Training, Writers | Leave a comment

I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours

Find new ways to help all of your campers shine.

Everyone has talents–some obvious, some hidden. At camp, it’s easy to see who the athletes are, somewhat harder to see who the artists are, and almost impossible to see who the intellectuals are. Because enhanced self-esteem is a cornerstone outcome of most camp programs, it is worth reflecting now–post season–about the ways in which your program identifies, cultivates, and showcases talents of all types. Self-esteem, after all, is grounded in feelings of competence. And feeling good about at least one … Continue reading

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Ain’t Misbehavin’–On Purpose

Editor’s Note: Dr. Christopher Thurber is out of the country this week. This is an archived Week-Ender blog that was first published last summer. When directors invite me to camp in July, they generally have one thing in mind: Helping staff avoid the fabled “mid-summer slump.” But instead of teaching the staff crazy songs or preaching to them about the importance of their work, I preserve their stamina by changing the way they think. This change in thinking is the … Continue reading

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