A 'HINT' to Engage Counselors & Staff - Joanna Warren Smith

Leverage the Unique Perspective of Your Summer Camp Staff.

Even though you've been clear about the execution of everything from program to meals and swimming to bed time, your counsellors are on the front lines.  They are 'up close and personal' with the way things REALLY happen.  Since they're the experts, tap into their knowledge, improve your program and increase retention.

Dave Thoensen at Tamarak Day Camp and I agree that most staff tend to follow protocols during Week 1 and then start to get creative with their own renditions during Week 2.  We think this is the ideal time to question them about two items via a Snap Poll, a survey challenge issued in the AM to be turned in at lunch or a survey text.  Whatever method is utilized or incentive given, you want to keep track of who responds to guarantee 100% participation.


  • Commit to securing this critical input.  Get everything set up now so that when Week 2 of camp rolls around, you're ready.  If you're sending emails and requesting responses via on-line survey software, have lap tops available or allow phones to be used.
  • Make it short, sweet and to the point.  Here's copy that we've used successfully.

Subject Line:  A request from ____________
You’ve been at camp for almost three weeks now and we need your input.  Please take just one minute to go to this link to answer two short questions.
1.  What one item can you suggest that will make the _____________ experience even better for our campers?    
2.  How can we help you be more successful in your position/job?

  • Hype the process.  Get counsellors excited about their opinions making a difference for the kids.  One camp offered $100 for each implemented suggestion, others have just given 'credit' to the contributors while most noticed a positive bump in morale.
  • Scrutinize the input.  Probably after the summer, take the time to look for trends and indicators where program design or logistics could be strengthened to deliver a 'noticeably improved product in 2017.

I suspect you'll be impressed with the insight of your staff and their eagerness to help make your camp product even better.


Want to discuss your survey protocols? Email campconsulting@roadrunner.com  or give me a call at 310-451-1876

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)