Best camp staff ever - Part 2

Now that you have hired all your summer camp staff...

Build Camp Community Before Summer

Transient

Part 2

photo by Travis Allison (@ Camp Kintail)

On Monday I started this conversation about ways that we can develop a sense of community in our staff before they even get to camp and play their first game of Group Juggle.

The Personal Touch:

  • It may take a lot of time but the dividends will be well worth it:  write a short note to each and every staff member and mail it to them prior to your first training event
  • Be creative with your use of card or paper
  • If your staff numbers in the hundreds, have the short letter or card printed up with what you want to say and then add (in your own writing) one quick comment and sign your name to each card
  • In this day of online communication, people truly appreciate a card by snail mail, especially one that tells them how excited you are to have them on the team

Matchmakers:

  • Pair a new staff member up with a returning staff member from the same city or university
  • Ask the returning staff member to contact the new person by telephone or email
  • Have the returning staff member meet with the new person for coffee to answer any questions and give them at least one person they will know when they arrive at camp

Before "Training" Even Begins:

  • Hold a weekend in the city at the end of April (it does not have to be mandatory but encourage everyone to attend)
  • A church/community centre/school is a good location at which to hold it (no doubt you have connections to find an appropriate locations)
  • Run well thought out and creative ‘get-to-know-you’ activities for the afternoon on Saturday
  • Have a potluck dinner or have the camp pay for the meal
  • Hold time in the early evening for a meeting to go over what staff need to know for employment
  • Have an evening programme and campfire
  • Sleep at the location (have staff bring sleeping bags, etc.)
  • On Sunday, do a community project together (ex. lead a worship service, work at a soup kitchen, clean up garbage in the area , hold a car wash as a camp fundraiser, etc.) - this is to be a positive experience they will have done together as a group
  • Have lunch together (perhaps you might like to go to a restaurant)
  • Meet with senior staff members later on Sunday afternoon (use this chance to have them help you plan your Staff Orientation Weekend at camp in early May, hand out materials or reports they need for their summer positions, etc.)
  • Run the weekend event exactly like you would run camp (meals, campfires, evening programmes,  etc.) to allow the staff to learn by your example as well as through the activities that you choose and how you treat one another

How do you build your camp staff community before the summer?