Who’s Taking Care of My Kid…and ARE THEY PREPARED??
It is with the greatest pleasure that I announce that your 2016 summer staff team is complete! We have an extremely excited, engaging group ready to take care of all things camp this summer and I just know you’re going to love each and every one of them!
A couple fun facts:
- We have 18 returning staff members from 2013-2015!
- We have 14 international staff members joining us from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Ireland, Hungary, and Colombia!
- Staff members range in age from 18 through 77!
- Four staff members were Nicolet campers!
If you’d like to learn more about them, head over to the Camp Nicolet Facebook page and check out our “Summer 2016 Staff” album. There is a picture and brief introduction that each person wrote up just for you. J
Being a year-round camp director, one of the most common questions I get is: “So, what do you actually do all year?” A huge part of my job is hiring each of the seasonal staff members that will work on the front line and be responsible for taking care of your kiddos. This process starts almost as soon as one season ends and includes deciding on any changes or additions we want to make, updating job descriptions, creating job postings, reaching out to colleges and clubs/groups that may have qualified candidates, attending job fairs, and having conversations with former staff members regarding their intentions for the coming summer. I follow that up with reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and contacting references. Then comes that writing contracts, tracking down paperwork, and opening lines of communication for relationship building among staff. Put that all together and it’s almost a full-time job just to get the 40+ people that will make up our team each year on board and ready to go. However, it doesn’t end there. During the spring is huge amount of time is spent developing staff training so that I am confident that our team is ready to go the second your campers arrive. When speaking with new camp families, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is regarding how the staff is trained so that they can deal with a multitude of situations, from homesickness to bullying and everything in between. Since it’s such an important topic, I thought I’d tell you all a little bit about it too. Here is a little Q&A:
How long is staff training?
Staff training is 9 days. There is also an additional week prior to staff training in which some of the staff will be on-site taking courses for CPR/1st Aid/AED, Lifeguard, and USA Water Ski Level 1 Instructor certification. All program/counseling staff is required to have their CPR/1st Aid/AED certification. We also do a Northpoint Adventures orientation trip during certification week for all staff who will be leading out-of-camp trips during the summer.
What topics are covered during staff training?
We start with the basics – camp history and mission, tours, policies and paperwork – and progress through to the end when we start cabin prep. In between there are lessons on topics such as camp program, youth development, tips for teaching, risk management and handling emergencies, bullying and conflict resolution, cabin life, homesickness, learning to live together, child protection, and camp health. We also have designated time spent in activity areas learning the rules, safety procedures, and how to instruct different ages and ability levels. All staff members are evaluated on their skill, knowledge, and comfort in each of their chosen areas during this time, as well.
Wow-that sounds like a lot! How do you fit it all in and keep staff from getting overwhelmed and checking out?
It is a lot! We set up our staff training schedule to follow the typical day at camp so the team can get used to the flow of each day. Each learning session is typically about an hour and we use multiple different mediums and resources during that time to keep staff engaged (and awake!), including role-playing, open-forum discussion, PowerPoint and visual media, and games. Most hours there is a mix of active and inactive time so it feels a little less like school and a little more like camp. We do, however, make sure to instill the importance of the material that is being taught and take time to reflect, or debrief, even after the things that seem like pure fun.
Who are the instructors and what are their qualifications?
Myself, Georgi, Jeremy and the rest of our administrative team conduct most of the sessions. With backgrounds in camping, youth development, program development, recreation management, and child & family studies, we each bring a unique set of skills and knowledge that spans most topics. In addition, we have alumni who volunteer to contribute based on their personal experience and qualifications. We also bring in industry professionals to run half or full-day sessions on different topics. This summer we will be joined by Hardy Girls, Healthy Women and will spend time learning about empowering girls and encouraging them to become “allies to tackle a culture that tells them meanness is the norm.”
How do staff learn how to handle special events (campfire, dining hall night, cookouts, all-camp activities, etc.)?
Return staff are put in charge of planning and preparing each event during staff training week. This gives the new staff members a feel for what is expected once the campers arrive and also lets us all unwind and have a little fun!
Are staff re-evaluated during staff training week, now that you’ve met them in person and have been able to see what they can do?
Yes. Staff are constantly being evaluated throughout the summer and have formal evals at the end of staff training, the mid-point of the summer, and the last week. During each meeting, we discuss expectations and goals for the coming weeks, things that need to be worked on between meetings, what I can do to help, and things that have been done well. They are also provided with feedback between meetings. All staff are empowered to make choices and take action to learn and grow throughout the season while being held to the highest of expectations when it comes to providing the best care to your camper.
Staff training is something that is so important to a successful summer and something that I could spend hours talking about. I hope you’ve found this information helpful and, as always, if you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only 30 days until Session I, 44 until Session II, and 58 until Session III!
See you soon!!