summer camp

Shifting Focus

The summer heat is coming in, and so is camp! Part of me could not be more excited, and another part of me cannot stop making to-do lists. Even though there are months to prepare for camp, it always feel crazy hectic this time of year.

Last week I pushed the business aside and took 30 minutes to stop thinking about the campers, parents, counselors, programs, and etc. and to start thinking about me – how I can improve as camp director. I am (embarrassingly) sharing these things with you guys below. Hopefully you can take some of these ideas on yourself or they will inspire you to make your own! (Also, here’s hoping that having them so public will make sure these things get changed!)

  • Find a confidant outside camp.
    • I’m only 24, and I worked with many of our staff members as a counselor before. Sometimes I struggle with venting to some of the counselors, and this year I grew, and I learned, and I know that’s not acceptable.
  • See the good.
    • Camp directors are natural problem solvers, so we gravitate toward the problems. I want to intentionally look for good things going on when I find problems and I want to let people know the good I saw in them.
  • Visit activity areas more frequently.
    • While the campers are at their morning activities (archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, etc.) I usually gravitate to one area or stay inside with busywork I could do at another point. This year I want to see all of my staff lead their activities, and I want to provide them some extra time off by teaching the activity myself for a while.
  • Offer more suggestions.
    • Instead of telling my staff what they’re doing is wrong (especially when it’s something we maybe didn’t get around to covering in staff training), I want to offer them a specific suggestion on how to do it better.
  • Address things faster.
    • Instead of letting things faster, I’m adopting a rule I heard on the Camp Code podcast (#lifesaver) and letting only two meals (or less) pass before I pull someone aside and address something that happened.
  • Write things down.
    • Another thing I got from Camp Code (seriously, listen to it) is the importance of writing things down. When I have important conversations with campers or counselors, I’m going to jot it down in my binder. I’m also stealing the idea of making a list of all my counselors and putting a +/-/o beside their name when I have a positive/negative/neutral one-on-one conversation with them. Keeping track of this makes sure I get around to talking to all my staff, and I can easily see who I need to pour some more positive energy into.
  • Wake up earlier and destress.
    • This January I started the YMCA ragger program, and I told my mentor I struggled with feeling overwhelmed sometimes. She offered the advice to set my alarm just 30 minutes earlier and spend that time to myself mentally getting ready for my day. If  you want to join me and you like coffee, this would be great coffee time. I’ve been trying to make myself like coffee just so I can drink it during this time. So far – no luck.
  • Be confident and be okay with mistakes.
    • If I’m not confident in my job, no one will be confident in me. This is something I’ve really struggled with as a young director because I’ve constantly felt like I have to prove myself worthy to the staff. No more!

And that’s basically it! If you can make the time, I highly suggest making a list like this of how you want to change as a director this summer. It’ll help you grow professionally and get you ready for camp!

Let me know in the comments what you’re going to work on!


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