Do This Now To Set Your Summer Camp Staff Up For Success - CampHacker #108

You may be in the thick of things, but your staff are ready, and they need you.

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Hello Camp Pros!

Well, it's late April/early May, and you know what that means.


No no, only kidding! But likely, it can start to feel like it at this time of year.

As we finish stretching to prepare for the sprint that is camp, we can't forget that the race we are about to run is not a solo event, it's a relay!

For many of us, our staff are either starting to think about coming, or are starting to trickle up to camp. While it's sometimes stressful when people are adding to the mix of your daily workflow, it's important that we step back and remember that these are the people that will carry out all the marketing and selling you've done since September. Their energy that you had when you were 17 is just waiting to be unleashed and it's important that you take the time to begin to harness that energy and point it in the right direction.

Last episode, we covered some broad ways that you can support staff by creating and sustaining a culture that focuses on mental wellness (which was an eye-opening episode and if you haven't listened already, please do!). This time around, we've brought the team and some friends in to talk about some of the practical steps that you should take NOW to help your staff get ready to unleash their awesome this summer.

Joining Travis, Dan and Joe to share their best practices and ideas are Ange Atkinson, Camp Director at Camp Lantern Creek and Patti Sampson, Camp Director at Coastal Roots Camp, and host of the Podcast: Rec Heads and Camp Nerds


What kinds of things are you doing right now to set your team up for success? Let us know in the comments!

Bonus Resources - Because people who read the show notes are the best people.

Travis' Bonjoro Link:

Dan’s Dan Pink Episode

If Slack isn't for you, give Flock a peek!

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Travis: Oxford At-Hand Note Carrier 

Dan: The Emergent Task Planner

Joe: Tempered Glass screen covers for phones

Ange: Use Facebook Live to add some zest to your marketing smorgasbord! 

Patti: Gratitude Journaling

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Supporting Staff Mental Wellness - CampHacker #107

Your camp staff's mental wellness is a priority. Period.

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How many of our camp brochures or websites preach that our camp teaches kids about grit and resilience?

Okay everyone, put your hands down. 

Now, home many of us can say that we put that same effort into fostering grit and resilience with our staff? Sure, we may have staff check-ins and encourage staff to write motivational notes to each other, but although those are great, the times when just that was enough are likely coming to a end.

Before we continue, let's check ourselves remember that the world that we grew up in, in the 70's, 80's and 90's is very different than the one where our staff are growing up in now. The pressures of the world combined with the increased expectations of parents and peers, all lumped in with a toxic social media culture, makes for one of the most tumultuous times to be a youth.

We've grown and changed as an industry in so many ways. Now, when it comes to addressing the mental health of our staff, it's time to grow again. We would never leave our campers who are missing home and mentally struggling, so why would do it to our staff who are missing home, camp and mentally struggling in other ways?

This is a challenging episode, and honestly, it might be one of our heaviest yet, but we hope you'll stick with it and let this sink in.

Joining Travis, Dan and Gab in walking down this road is the fantastic Amanda Grassick from Camp Woodeden. Amanda has been working hard to make their staff's mental health a priority at Woodeden, and after a tough start in their first year, Amanda is starting to see some results thanks to what they've put in place.

This is more than a "get a pen and paper" type of episode. It's a "get a pen and paper, and ready to grow" type of episode. We know you'll enjoy it.

What are you doing to look after your staff team's mental health? Let us know in the comments below!

Bonus Resources

Mental wellness isn't something we can just "figure out" on our own (like you "figured out" how to jerry-rig that leaky toilet, you genius you!). Get professional training and approach this issue like a professional. These links will get you started.

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Travis: The Power of Moments: Chip & Dan Heath

Dan: Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Gab: Find someone to talk to that’s not family or friends also this book  Loving someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

Amanda: Smartsheet

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(Thank you!)

Starting From Scratch - CampHacker #73

Radical thinking about the Future of Summer Camp


Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes Stitcher App

Now THAT's what I'm talking about!

This show. 

THIS is the moment that CampHacker was created for. We had the best discussion today. Joe had the awesome idea to talk about what it would be like to start a camp from scratch.  If you weren't burdened by tradition (and a property) what would you do differently?

THAT lead us in to how would you radically change summer camp.  If our mission is to provide a transformative experience for children and teens (and staff) are we reaching as many people as possible with our programs being so remote? 

Outward Bound Canada has done something HUGE.  They sold off their remote sites so that they could build in downtown Toronto - now they serve tons more people. They still do remote trips but they are much more accessible for day programs.

Dan was kind enough to share the nine points that Frost Valley uses when they consider a new program:

  1. Demographics
  2. Audience
  3. Mission
  4. Goals
  5. Staff
  6. Traditions
  7. Sustainability
  8. Site
  9. Quality

(He explains them in the show!).

What would you do to start summer camp from scratch?  Leave us a comment below!

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Sources of Legal Music to Use in Camp Videos

Royalty Free Music sites (pay for it once and use it as needed)

  • Audio Bumpers/Stings/Logos
    • search for "music genre" + sting or bumper or logo

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(Thank you!)

Thanks for the evening, friends.

17 New Tips for Your Staff Training - CampHacker #70

Our Best Ideas for Leadership Training Your Camp Counsellors

 Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes Stitcher App

Now that is how it's done!  Dan, Gab & I just had a 25 minute LIGHTNING ROUND of great ideas.  They were coming fast & furious.

On today's show we talked about ways to make sure you have a great Staff Training Week.  Each of us shared 3 or 4 of our best ideas - the things that we know will have an impact on how your camp runs this summer.

Listen in for the details but here's our list:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Put on your Leadership Glasses
  3. Do it with intention
  4. Develop (and teach) the Clientele Mindset
  5. Give them bathroom reading
  6. Change it up
  7. Make "how-to" videos
  8. Show videos of interviews with camp parents
  9. Break up the style of your presentation (did you know that at Ouareau they are limited to only 15 minutes of lecture-style delivery before they must change it up?)
  10. Develop Duty Ditties
  11. Write your question down
  12. Create a Theme for the week.  One of Frost Valley Y's was Build Strong
  13. Embrace your history.  Gab also suggested we highlight the shifts that the camp directors have make to keep camp growing
  14. Create a manual people will look at (check out this Camp Code podcastStaff Manuals: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)
  15. At each area have 2 signs: What do Campers Need to Know? What do Staff Need to Know?
  16. Show your enthusiasm
  17. Create a culture that values sleep (thanks Dr. G!)  [Click to Tweet This!]

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Travis - Replace your broken iPad or phone screen your self - kit
Dan - The Way of the Seal (book)
Gab - Big Stock

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(Thank you!)

Thanks for the evening, friends.