Switch by Chip & Dan Heath - Camp Leaders MBA

Making Changes Big and Small at Your Summer Camp

I remember a speaker at a camp conference who talked to us about Habits vs Traditions.   He (I think it was a he... anyone remember who this was?) encouraged all of his participants to look at the day-to-day things of camp and make sure that they were Traditions (carried on because they fit the camp mission and were integral to what made thecamp successful) and not Habits.  Habits are the things that we do at camp that, when we ask ourselves "why?", we can't come up with a better answer than "because we always do it that way."

This Camp Leader's MBA book is called Switch by Chip & Dan Heath. Subtitled "How to Change Things When Change is Hard", this book works for Camp Leaders on many levels.

Since the fall is our time of reflection and planning for summer camp, now is a perfect time to curl up with this book.

In the book, they talk about ways to implement change - Direct the Rider, Motivate The Elephant, and Shape the Path.  It's a pretty simple metaphor that we could use at our summer camps for making differences, large and small. 

  • Direct the Rider = provide crystal clear direction
  • Motivate The Elephant = remember that we are emotional beings - we need to believe in the "why" of this change
  • Shape the Path = change the system so that changing the behaviour is easy

One of my favourite lessons of this book is the BHAG - the Big, Hairy, Ambitious Goal.   Sometimes, when you need to make big differences, you need a BHAG to motivate everyone.    

Can you paint a picture of what life at camp will be like when you have reached your BHAG?  

Imagine telling this story to your office people and summer staff: 

We are going to be full next summer.  

We are going to be so full that by next May we are going to have parents crying at the office that their child "just has to" be at camp this summer because every other kid in her class is coming.  

We are going to be so full that everyone in the office will get to take home a weekly basket of fresh-cut flowers and home-made chocolate chip cookies dropped off by moms who "just dropped by to see if Petey has moved off the Waiting List".  

We are going to be so full that the line-up outside our office to get one of two rumoured open spaces in Teen Camp will make the iPhone launch look like our dining room salad bar on Tuesday at lunch.

We are going to be full next summer. 

That is Motivating the Elephant.

What are you going to change at your camp this year?