Summer Camp is a Hero's Journey
For many staff members, their time at summer camp is extraordinary. It is a Hero’s Journey where they experience a world so much different and quite often so much better than what they find during the school year. It can be very difficult for them to transition back into the Mundane World - a world without costumes, flash mobs, and nightly campfires - a world where people do not always treat one another with the respect and kindness they experience at camp - a world in which they are no longer the leaders. Add to all this, the fact that they are missing the closest relationships they will likely ever have and you could have some very sad staff members.
Here are a few ideas to help them get settled into school life and bring a little of camp along with them:
- Stay in touch. Those relationships they gained during the summer have literally changed their lives. Be sure to connect with them through email, your camp blog, telephone calls and even good ‘ole snail mail. Even a simple postcard with a few words will brighten their day and remind them how special they are.
- Encourage them to get together as often as possible. We spend our days as camp directors teaching our campers and staff members the importance of face to face relationships. Post opportunities (and ask them to do so too) to connect in person like concerts, sporting events, days at a park or skating rink. The possibilities are endless! Be sure to make it yourself to as many as you can.
- Take them out for dinner. Living in residence, students can soon tire of cafeteria food. When you are on the road promoting camp throughout the school year, plan to visit as many universities and colleges as you can. Let the staff members know ‘when and where’ and have them join you for dinner.
- Plan a Christmas Vacation Reunion. Book a space and a date now for all your staff to get together over the school break. Let them know as soon as you can so they can put it in their calendars. Especially for students who come home for Christmas Break, their schedules are pretty full. If you are able, find a space where you can all stay overnight so that you can be together even longer. Churches, Lodges, and sometimes schools will often allow you to use their facilities for a camp reunion.
- Create a Facebook group just for your camp news. Post, at least weekly, everything that is happening up at camp or in the camping office. Let them know about new buildings, new fun purchases, hiring dates, conferences, camp fairs and promotions - everything you can think of to gear them up for next summer. Ask for their ideas and input and get them planning! This is also a great way to share inspiring messages with them to continue their camp ways back in the ‘mundane world’.
- Let them know you are there for them. Be sure they know they can contact you if they are finding the transition very difficult. If you are not the person to best connect with on your staff, set up the one who is. Sometimes teens and young adults need to know it’s okay to ask for help.
We’d love to hear your ideas! Help us to share them with our readers by sending them our way.
Enjoy the quiet transition of September.