Collaboration with the Camp Staff Dream Team pt. 2

Hello from the Head Counsellor - #3

The Results


Hello everyone!

How is your November treating you? I hope swell. Laurier is just starting to calm down before the thoughts of finals start to percolate into our collective consciousness. So, after a long few weeks, I’m taking the night off from my studies and doing some reflecting. It’s much more fun than calculating derivatives or analyzing vector spaces, let me tell you. 

In the last installment of Hello From The Head Counsellor, I was sharing my game-plan for basing my summer as Head Counsellor around a collaborative effort. 

Just a heads up, the following will not have nearly as much context as you would probably like if you haven’t read the first article.

Here it is!

With the framework set in place, I was as prepared as I could have been for the counsellors to arrive and get our summer on the way.

Through the summer. Collaboration stayed at the heart of my intentions. Every counsellor meeting that I ran had an aspect of my collaborative process in it. Here are some specific results that I noticed as they took place. Next article, I will reflect a little deeper on these results.

First off, the addition of the counsellor meeting and focus of group collaboration turned out to be an extremely effective daily (or almost daily - you know how camp can be) use of our time. In these meetings, when given the opportunity to collaborate, there was not one single time where I had to draw answers out of the group. Both the returning and new counsellors seemed to always have an idea to share or have an opinion on whatever we were talking about. What really amazed me was how off-the-cuff everything was. There was no hesitation, no need for concern of offending someone and advice was always received respectfully and treated seriously. Being someone who hopes to teach high school students one day, I can only hope that the future 16 and 17 year olds show the kind of desire to help others as the counsellors did in these meetings.

Now, with the concept of DREAM team and collaborative evaluation I definitely had a different result than I was expecting. During leadership training, I introduced the concept of the DREAM team to the counselling staff and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was fantastic amount of “buy in” to the theme, right off the start. Their expectations were specific and for the most part, they were all excited to try and achieve the DREAM team status going into week one of camp. That buy-in factor fluctuated over the summer and we were getting up to week 6 and we had not yet earned all five letters in one week. I was worried about people who were invested in this process (myself included) being discouraged by not achieving the letters. I then came to a realization that to make the most amount of people satisfied with what letters went up, it shouldn’t be just me deciding on what was earned. I decided that for the last two weeks of the summer, that I would put the decision to a vote to see if the letters that I put of from observing, matched to what the group had observed that week. I was sure that this would give us all the letters the following week. I was once again, surprised. As bad as I wanted the group to get the letters, when put to a vote for the last two weeks of the summer, we collectively decided that we never did actually achieve the DREAM team status that we were working towards. I was impressed with how seriously the staff took this exercise even thought they knew that our goal was not going to be achieved. 

I’m going to leave it at that for this article. Next time, I’ll be reflecting on this entire process and leaving you with my general thoughts and questions when it comes to collaboration. 

For now though, I’ll leave you with a quick question to think about until next time.

Can a collaborative atmosphere and culture be enough to make your staff collaborate or do you need people who are collaborative by nature to make it work? 

If you have any thoughts on that, or anything you have read from above. Please feel free to add your two cents below in the comments section.

Until next time! Happy camping!

~Matt “Iscus” Honsberger

The Head Counsellor