July 26, 2015
Being a camp counselor or camp director is a special calling. I am convinced that few jobs provide as rich an opportunity to impact the lives of children. It is also full of laughter and community and love.But summer camp jobs have their challenges as well. Not unlike being a parent, being at camp has incredible highs coupled with moments of challenge. Campers do not always get along with each other. The days are fun, but they can also be long. The days also provide few breaks. Our counselors get 2 lunches and 2 nights off every week and one day off every 3-weeks. As a result, the counselors are “on” roughly 90 hours each week. Once again, it is like being a parent. You love the job, but you cannot expect to get the rest you often strive for.
This summer, we have introduced a series of efforts to help keep our counselors rested. We hired more counselors, we created the team focused on first-time families, we added 1-2 sleep-in mornings (extra hour of sleep) each week and we give multi-session counselors extra time off.
I am delighted to report that the efforts are exceeding expectations. Despite the fact that the majority of this team has been here since May 24, I see daily evidence that the team remains excited and fully present.
Let me share an example.
One of the ways I know that a staff is tiring is when they stop going the “extra mile”. Our counselors do not tire of their campers, but they might choose to do fewer extra activities that go above and beyond the scope of their job.
Saturday is All Camp Super Camp Fun Day (ACSCFD). This thoroughly over-named day features special activities like hamster balls, foam pits, inflatables and dunking booths. The campers also enjoy a beach party in the afternoon. Perhaps my favorite part of ACSCFD is the fact that the campers get to choose their own schedule. We open the vast majority of activities during the morning and your children get to go wherever they want.
Days like this take lots of extra effort to pull off. Managing the inflatables and outside vendors requires plenty of work, as does the selective activities. I never expect anyone to go above and beyond on ACSCFD.
Yet yesterday, a group came to us and suggested that we have a special flag-raising event: Pancake Flag-Raising.
This event involved moving 4 sets of aluminum bleachers 200 meters each, waking an extra 90 minutes early and cooking pancakes like their lives depended on it. It is like breakfast in any home, as long as that home is feeding over 400 people.
You heard me right, they made pancakes for the entire camp.
Some pancakes were delivered on plates in a sophisticated manner. Others were tossed into the crowd like tiny Frisbees. We had some songs, some trivia and general silliness.
Susie Ma’am shared a quote that seemed so appropriate. It comes from Winnie the Pooh.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today!” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing, “ he said.
So today was breakfast AND exciting. Seems like a great start to All Camp Super Camp Fun Day.
Want more like this? See: http://blog.campchampions.com/our-best-staff-ever