Make the Most of your Pre-Camp Training

Show Your Summer Camp Staff The Ropes

Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Greet them exactly as you would your campers on an Opening Day (include your 'welcome to camp speech' with each car, even if they have been on staff forever)
  • Greet parents, should they be dropping off staff members, in the same way you greet camper parents throughout the summer
  • In advance, divide your staff members into cabin groups with 'counselors' (members of your senior staff who have been well prepared for this day) - be sure to mix them together well so that you have a variety of ages and experience in your cabin groups
  • Have your nurse or camp doctor in the spot he/she sits on your Opening Day and have them receive staff members in the same way (if your medical staff does not arrive until after Pre-Camp, have a qualified first aider do the job)
  • Have members of your leadership team escort them to their cabins to meet their 'counselors' (don't forget to help carry the luggage!)
  • Have their 'counselors' ready to meet and greet them in the same way campers are greeted on Opening Days (have the cabins clean and tidy, a welcome banner up, decorations for the theme of the week, a gift or welcome letter on each bunk, etc.)
  • Have these senior staff "counselors" use the same lingo they would with campers (handshakes, introductions, helping set up bunks, etc.)
  • Allow time for cabin groups to get to know each other with tours, backpocket games, crafts, etc. (this also allows senior staff to share their best secrets with the counselors) - be sure to have these senior staff members prepped ahead of time and frontload with them what you want your staff to get out of the experience
  • Run swim tests with your staff if this is part of your Opening Day
  • Have your cabin groups line up for dinner if this is something you do at your camp - encourage the 'counselors' to teach songs or cheers to their 'campers'
  • Have the cabin groups sit together at dinner (prep your 'counselors' to share their best meal traditions with their 'campers' - ex. table games, how they teach and expect manners, songs)
  • If you have sessions on this day, have the 'counselors' line their 'campers' up together, get them to be sure their 'campers' bring the appropriate supplies to sessions, have them count their 'campers' to be sure they are all present and accounted for
  • If you are running an Evening Programme, choose an activity that encourages cabin group participation so that counselors can understand the importance of building group unity from the very night together
  • At the end of the evening, have your 'counselors' put the 'campers' to bed (prep them ahead of time to share their best tricks of the trade for quieting campers down and making sure they have done something special with them to end off their night - ex. sing them songs, read them stories, do devotions if you are a religious camp)

The more you can SHOW your staff members and allow them to EXPERIENCE, the more they will understand the importance of the job ahead of them. Remember...prepping your senior staff to be amazing 'counselors' is a very important step in this process. And enjoy watching your staff members as they get to be 'campers' again; it will help to get them pumped up for the summer to come!