By: Associate Director Karen Kollins
For many months in our off season, we spend a great deal of time preparing for our staff training week. We put in this time because we know that training our staff is the most important thing we can do to ensure a successful camp experience for each of our campers. During staff training week, our staff learn from community professionals, from their peers and from the Hanhallah (leadership team) about how to be role models, caregivers, and educators to our campers. After months of planning, it’s been wonderful to watch our staff in action and witness them transition into leaders.
Throughout the week, staff have participated in a variety of workshops, covering a wide range of topics. They have learned about everything from fire safety, to experiential programming, about how to establish cabin routines…and more. There are many lessons and skills that we know our staff will take away from this week.
Here are the top three lessons we focused on this week:
Lesson #1:The individual needs of every camper are essential.
Our staff learned about the individual needs, both physical and emotional, of our campers. A large part of this, is teaching out staff how to accommodate the needs of each individual camper, while also meeting the needs of the entire cabin. Staff gained an understanding of this through workshops on Social Safety, training from True To Life Training – a corporate training company that uses professional actors to help simulate real ‘camp’ situations, a session with JFC (Jewish Family and Child Services) and through workshops with myself, Jeff and our Camper Care Team.
Lesson #2: Campers need at least six points of connection to have a successful camp experience. It is the staff’s role to facilitate these points of connection.
Research shows that for a camper to feel connected to a camp community that they need to have six points of connections with others. These connections are facilitated through our staff beginning on day one. This week, staff have been prepared to run everything from icebreakers, to cabin meetings and evening programs, all of which focus on the importance of community. Whether campers are riding a bike or swimming in Maple Lake, our staff are always focused on facilitating friendships and strengthening points of connections for campers.
3. Taking care of campers is the hardest and most rewarding job that our staff will ever have and that we are here to support them.
We always say that camp is a marathon and not a sprint. Each day at camp is filled with new successes and also with new challenges. We recognize the dedication and hard work of our staff, which is why we’ve also put developed a wide variety of support systems for them. In addition to their friends and co-staff, staff members can get support from other staff members in camp, their Unit Heads and Assistant Unit Heads, Hanhallah, the Camper Care Team, faculty members and of course Jeff and myself.
We feel confident that our staff are setting out on the right foot this summer and prepared to take on the sacred work of caring for your children. We look forward to seeing our amazing staff team in action!