Community at Summer Camp is Intentional

Previously, we shared an acronym we developed to help us give the best to our staff during training. We shared one activity under each heading. This outline is to get you started thinking about training.  We encourage you to take time in the next few months to put all your pre-camp activities into one of these 4 categories to ensure you have a balanced training programme.  We promised to add more ideas in the coming weeks so here you go:

C          COMMUNITY - laying the foundation

Puzzle Piece Name Tags: Draw a puzzle on bristol board or wood with as many pieces as you have staff.  Cut out each piece and sand if necessary.  Hand one out to each staff person.  Have supplies set out for staff to decorate their own piece.  Encourage them to personalize their piece with symbols that are meaningful to them.  You may choose to have a hole in each piece so that they can be used as name tags.  At the end of the day, have the staff put the puzzle together.  Make note of the fact that each individual was required to make the puzzle complete and that all people have gifts and talents to bring to the community.

A          ATTENTION – supporting staff

Group Journal:  This is a great idea by Catherine Ross in her “How to be a Camp Counsellor” book.  She suggests that each cabin has a group journal in which campers can write every day and counsellors can answer every evening so that the campers can read it when they wake up.  Why not do the same with your staff.  Start the idea at Leadership Training and have a staff journal in which you invite any member of staff to write their thoughts, questions, etc.  Have the director and assistant director (maybe head counsellor too…whomever you wish) take turns responding to the journal entries so that staff can read them in the morning.

M          MAGIC – the special little touches

Singing to One Another: during leadership training, divide your staff into smaller groups and ask them to prepare a song to sing to the other groups.  Tell each group separately so that they are not aware that the other groups are doing the same thing!  You may wish to divide the groups into different camp areas (waterfront, adventure, office staff, counselors, etc., or mix the groups so that people get to know one another better)  Have each group work on a song about camp, friendship, supporting one another, etc., and have them perform at the last campfire of training.

P          PLAY – spend time with them

This group activity works well after a particularly difficult or important, but not so fun, session during leadership training.  If they have been sitting for a while and dealing with serious issues or simply so many sessions that they need a break, staff enjoy this opportunity to play and enjoy one another's company.  It costs very little and take very little time to prepare. It also helps staff remember the joy of childhood.

Bubbles: everyone loves bubbles.  Have lots of bubble soap and things to blow through (wire works great).  You can make different shapes and bubbles within bubbles.  If you make your own bubbles, don’t forget a drop of glycerin.