Being a Good Camp Role Model
A summer camp can be one of the most defining moments of a child’s life. It is a place where friendships are formed, confidence grows and new life skills are gained. Any camp should be memorable for all the right reasons but how can individual camp directors ensure they recruit, inspire and project the most appropriate image for the duration of the camp in order that their camp is the one that is fondly remembered by the child in later life.
More than just a job
Being a camp director or counsellor is much more than just a job. As camp director your role is that of organizer, employer, leader and mentor. For your camp counsellors it is much the same aside from the employer part and getting the right mentality in your team of counsellors is largely the most important aspect of hosting a successful camp.
Obviously there is a lot more that goes into organizing a camp than the staff but like a great theatre show or television drama it is the cast that really make it memorable and choosing the wrong people will leave campers feeling uninspired and lack lustre about their experiences.
Not only do your recruitment choices affect the running of the camp but they also affect how much support you will receive as camp director so making good decisions will make life easier on you as well as improve the camp chances of success.
For a parent to leave their child with you for any period of time is a great privilege. Much like a school teacher the parent or parents are placing their trust in you and your staff that their child will be cared for and fulfilled. This added responsibility shouldn’t be taken lightly but at the same time you shouldn’t allow it to overwhelm you when making camp decisions.
Parents too have chosen camp for their child rather than take them on a cruise break to the Caribbean or other vacation, showing a preference for the educational value and wholesome properties of camp.
As a camp director your role as a mentor is important for the parents, children and camp counsellors. You will need to effectively manage expectations and emotions as well as the practical, hands on activities of the camp. Take time to build relationships will all these groups and prepare well in advance to ensure you are equipped to deal with whatever is thrown your way. All too soon the camp will be over so as much mental preparation as possible will help your enjoyment of the whole process.
Each individual will have their own goals for camp and there’s no reason why as camp director you shouldn’t have some too. Setting yourself personal targets as well as those for the camp will enhance the experience for you. It is also important to be mindful that you are ultimately responsible for fulfilling or helping to fulfil the aspirations of others so being careful to include a great programme of activities as well as time for rest and social enjoyment are key to a balanced camp process.
As camp director you have a lot to remember. Not only do you need to know the schedules inside out as well as practical health and safety issues, food requirements and staffing arrangements and that is before any campers have even arrived! Add to that the need to remember names and details about individuals. With so much to think about it is advisable to have ways of keeping organized. You will need to develop your own tricks and methods to aid your memory and help you get through each day smoothly. Most importantly is not to panic and delegate to your assistants where you can so that things don’t become too much. There is a fine line between doing too much and having a good grasp on everything that you need to so try and find that balance early on.
Whilst many will want to improve their self esteem, try a new skill or participate in a sport they love above all else everyone involved in camp wants to have fun. As camp director you need to have fun too and so try to keep this at the forefront of your mind when planning your camp and throughout to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the detail!
This post was written by a Guest Contributor
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