A 'HINT' for Summer Camp Staff Orientation - Joanna Warren Smith


You'll beHere next year, Right-.jpg

Reflect back to those wonderful times at camp when you see a counsellor and a young camper walking down the path.  They are laughing as they go, just enjoying the magic of being at camp and being together.

Now imagine what happens next.  The camper stops, looks fondly up at the counsellor and asks 'You'll be here next year, right?'  Without hesitation, the counsellor retorts, 'Nope, going to grad school!'.

With that response, you have likely lost that camper.

Now I am not advocating that you encourage staff to lie, but if you helpcounsellors understand the enormous impact they have on campers, they usually take their jobs more seriously and definitely deal more diplomatically with 'the moment of truth'.


  • Reserve 15 minutes during orientation.  Re-enact the scenario just described and allow staff to see the impact of the response.  Even theyoungest staff members know immediately that the camper is unlikely to return the next year.
  • Brainstorm 'honest' alternative responses.  A simple statement usually suffices.  The counsellor smiles and says 'I love camp so much, I wish I could come back every year.'  The camper is satisfied and still wants to return.
  • Practice in groups of 4.  Have two watch while each pair performs giving all counsellors a chance to see what works for them and hear suggestions on how to improve.

15 minutes is a small investment for BIG rewards.  Please give it a try.


Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(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/)