That was LAST Year...this is THIS Year - Camp Code #12

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Camp Code

“That’s not the way we did it last year.” “The former director let us do this…” Whether you are a new director who is running the show for the first time or a veteran who just had a rough summer, how do you hit the ground running this summer towards positive change?

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

Help your staff members to learn to arrive to training sessions on time by making the times memorable.  Have your sessions begin at times like:  9:03, 10:47 or 2:18.  If they still have trouble, take a page from Michael Brandwein and wait for the stragglers to arrive, calming and gently explain that you will all leave the room together and, in 2 minutes, all come in together to begin the session.  Chances are, they will never be late again.

Intelligent Leadership Training Design - Camp Code #11

Make the Most of Your Camp Staff Training

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We CANNOT stress enough the importance of well-thought out, well-planned, and exceptionally intentional leadership training.  As camping professionals, we need to think through every minute of every day of training and use each one to our advantage - whether it’s making the most of a learning session, a time of community building or ensuring our staff is well-rested and ready to go when the campers finally arrive.  As always, we want to be intentional with everything we do.  

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

It is vitally important to learn the names of your staff.  It is an important step in making your staff, especially new ones, feel like they are appreciated and being cared for.  Do whatever you have to do to learn their names ahead of time:  create a cheat sheet, study your staff bios, practice with other staff.  Repetition is the key. Be sure to introduce your staff in engaging and personal ways.  

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Staff Manuals: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Camp Code #10

Give Your Camp Staff Something USEFUL

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Because there are a couple of different strategies, because they are critical for accreditations, because yours could make or break you...because there is lots of room for creativity.

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:
 “Wreck this Journal” is a book that has instructions for destroying it.  Check it out and see how you can add this concept into your staff manuals.  Here are the 1st three instructions in the book (1) carry this with you everywhere you go (2) follow instructions on every page and (3) order is not important.

Returning Staff Facilitating Training - Camp Code #9

Leadership opportunities for experienced camp staff

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If we are running successful camps, we have a large number of staff returning every year.  Instead of it becoming a problem where our returning staff are bored, disengaged, and quite possibly disruptive, we want to challenge them and help them take it to the next level; we also want to use their skills and experience to help teach the next generation of staff. What avenues can we explore to make training a useful and positive experience for staff who’ve done this before?

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

Thanks to Dr. Tim Elmore, we learned to put our training on ICE:

When teaching this generation of staff, make sure to use...

I - images that lead to

C - conversations that lead to

E - experiences that change their lives.

Training Youth Development Professionals - Camp Code #7

Preparing Your Summer Camp Staff to Become #CampPros

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Those not in the industry can sometimes think that “camp staff” means glorified babysitter, someone who is simply watching children and making sure they have fun.

Those of us who truly believe in the importance of summer camp understand that a youth development professional is fundamentally different; we want to grow the whole person.  We want to create people who will change the world and make a difference. How do we prepare our staff?

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

P  - Present your best self
R - Respect others
O - Own your actions
F - Find the right words
E - Establish proper communication
S - Social Media - the who, what, when, where, and why
S - Social Graces, if you please
I - Interact well with others
O - Own your “own” stuff
N - Never miss an opportunity to listen
A - Always be receptive to feedback
L - Leave ‘em wanting more

Teaching Them To Teach - Camp Code #6

Building Camp Staff Leadership Skills

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Summer Camp Staff Training Podcast

What we do is so much more than help children to have fun; we are at camp to develop the whole person. We are teaching not only specific hard skills like sailing or climbing or the j stroke but we are also teaching soft skills like  communication, conflict resolution, and  resiliency. So it’s important that our staff members understand (a) that they are teachers every moment of every day and (b) they understand how to be creative, intentional, well-prepared instructors.

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

The games and activities that we actually play are not made to just go through the motions. As we develop our skills at camp, sometimes the intent behind what we are doing gets lost.  What are your goals, what do you want the end picture to look like?  Make sure staff members experience the intent behind what you are doing.

Training Beyond Training - Camp Code #5

Making Summer Camp Staff Training Last All Year 'Round

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There are three reasons for exploring this topic:

  1. Staff training is never long enough. Ever.
  2. There are great tools available to aid with this process.
  3. Youth development→ we want our staff to grow not only at work but also beyond. (and if they are growing, they are doing a better job at work!)

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

“To pay or not to pay” - when do we pay for seasonal staff members to get certifications or training that we need them to have to meet accreditation standards?

Teaching Boring Topics in Innovative Ways - Camp Code #4

Keeping Staff Training Interesting

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This podcast shares creative ways to cover those important “must-do” sessions that have to be presented year and after year and can be, if we’re not careful, boring and uninspiring.  

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

Provide summer staff additional training and recreation outside of Staff Training week.

Have any questions or need Beth to come lead some training at your camp?  Email her


Community Building, Part 1 - Camp Code #3

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Leadership training is critical for laying the foundation of your camp community. If staff is prepared to support one another, play alongside one another, resolve conflicts that arise, and work as a united team, then orientation has been a success.

A Best Practice for Leadership Training:

Create a large-scale visual representation of the important elements of each session.  This will make it easier for staff to remember the message of the presentation and allow the artists to share their skill.


12 Things You Should Say During Your Staff Training - Camp Code #1

Essential Leadership Training Statements for Summer Camp 

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Here you'll find a list of the 12 sentences that should come from your lips during training and why these words are so powerful.

  1. Your time is valuable and I am going to respect that. 
  2. Marketing for next year begins opening day of camp this year. 
  3. This is not last summer. 
  4. What are your expectations for me/admin staff/leadership team? 
  5. This is our "boysenberry".
  6. Let me make this perfectly clear.
  7. I am here to support you. 
  8. You will make "ripples".
  9. This training is for you so use it.
  10. What do you want to offer camp this summer?

Listen to the episode for the 2 bonus statements and complete details.