Camp Resources for Directors

Articles and resources for camp directors.

Helping Staff Live The Camp Mission

You have carefully chosen who to hire this summer and now that the new staff has arrived they are going to be inundated with information. They must be thoroughly trained and tested however, their success goes beyond safety procedures and conduct. The training curriculum probably includes detailed information about the camp’s mission. It’s important that the mission is visible in every action a staff member takes.  Here are some tips for helping new and returning staff understand and follow the mission:

  • Be the role model – As a director or owner you set the tone. You lead by example. If part of your mission is to have a nurturing environment, you should also be nurturing. It may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s important to remember that someone is probably paying attention to what you are doing more often than you may think. As a leader, having a momentary lack of judgement or losing your cool can be very serious and negatively impact the staff and campers.
  • Show yourself – Part of being a good leader is making time for your staff. Don’t spend the day in the office. Get out and talk to the staff. Listen to what they have to say. The more connected they are with you the more likely they will follow you. This directly impacts their willingness to support the camp’s mission. If you believe it, they will too if they know you are on their side.
  • It may not be a dream job – Many people that choose to work at a camp interacting with children all day want to be there. They love it and return summer after summer. For others, it may be just a job or it isn’t what they expected. It’s important to keep this in mind if you have a staff member who isn’t enthusiastic about supporting the camp’s mission. This is when being hands on and listening are crucial. You can try to understand why they don’t seem to be on board and help them enjoy being part of the camp community. Not just for the mission, but for themselves.
  • Peers can help – Staff members that believe and follow the mission can be very helpful. Peer to peer conversations can make a huge difference. People tend to open up more to a peer and share their true feelings. Peers also know how to interact with each other in ways no one else can. If you have a staff member that is struggling, ask one of their peers to try and help. They can turn it around.

Ideas For Summer Camp Themes

If you are running out of themes this summer, here are some ideas that may help spark your creativity:

  • Dress up day – The options are limitless. Campers and staff can dress up like celebrities, superheroes, hippies, pirates, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or ancient Greeks. You can have a day where everyone is mismatched or in their Pajamas. They can make stilly hats in arts and crafts and wear them on the same day. Don’t forget Halloween is awesome in the summer!
  • Contests – You can create a contest for anything. Best costume on dress up day, fastest up the climbing tower, who can make the funniest noises using just their voice and arms, who cooks the most delicious meal, or which cabin has the most creative theme and decorations.
  • Talent Contests – Pick a show like ‘America’s Got Talent’ or ‘American Idol’ and make it your own replacing ‘America’ with your camp name. You can also have a contest where the contestants are the counselors and the campers are the judges.
  • Everyone has a Birthday – Play typical birthday games like potato sack races, racing with an egg on a spoon, and pin the tail on the donkey. Let everyone decorate their own cake and swap gifts (everyone gets a gift).
  • Carnival – Rent a dunk tank and have the campers toss a bean bag into the target and dunk the counselors and directors. You can also have prizes for a pie eating contest, target shooting, guess how many beans are in a jar, and 3-legged races. Serve carnival food like funnel cake, candied apples, corn dogs, and popcorn.
  • Host a Luau – Decorate the area with tiki torches and palm trees. Everyone should wear grass skirts and leis. Play games with pineapple races and have a limbo contest.
  • Comedy Night – The counselors and directors put on a comedy show. Make fun of each other! It’s all in good fun.