Flagraising_2015.jpgToday, I want to share an important, but often over-looked, camp director skill.


Getting large groups to be quiet.


This is not a typical life-skill. The average person deals in groups of 3-7, not 30-400. As a result, the polite clearing of the thought is often enough to produce a desired silence. If the group is too large for the throat-clearing, a quick clap of the hands generally produces agreeable silence.


This is not the case with groups of children. Not a prayer.


So what are the alternatives, you ask. No, bullhorns and water hoses are not allowed.


Every camp director I know has a retinue of creative alternatives. Here are the ones we like:


  • Simply step forward and stand like you are about to share something cool. Smile and put your finger to your lips. This works well (on occasion) when you are on stage and most eyes are on you. It also helps if you are older and have grey hair. This is not usually effective for 20 somethings.
  • If the group is less than 25, start to whisper to someone upfront. The more you whisper, the sooner that everyone else will get quiet to figure out what they are missing.
  • Do a call-and-response exercise. Here are a few classics:
    • “If you can hear me, clap once” [CLAP] “If you can hear me, clap twice”. [CLAP, CLAP]
    • Clap or sing a familiar rhythm. If you use the “shave and a haircut” rhythm, the response will come back “clap, clap”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iTX_A1iWdM
    • Sing the first part of the annoying McDonalds “I’m Lovin’ It” theme and wait for the end.
    • Or you can use Susie Ma’am’s favorite, “And a HUSH fell over the crowd”, whereupon, the audience all says “HUSHHHH” and falls silent.


After using this successfully, a camper found Susie Ma’am later and wanted to share her thoughts, “I want to tell you how much the campers love camp. At school, when my teacher says “a hush falls over the crowd, some of the kids keep talking or looking at their friends. It makes the teachers frustrated. But here, we really hush because we respect and like the counselors and leaders and know that they respect and love us.”


I am not sure I could manufacture a nicer compliment. [Note: that compliment was directed to Susie Ma’am and not your humble narrator. Nevertheless, I am choosing to take it!]


Steve Sir