New Camp Director Pro Tip

Being a camp director is lonely

Written by Patti

Hi friends!!!

It’s been a while!! I hope ya’ll had an amazing summer!
I’ve missed our chats, and I’m SO excited to get back into them.

I’d love to hear ALL about your summer – the highs, the lows, the hilarious moments… tell me everything!

This summer I had the chance to work at a few different camps (which was SO fun/ insane… updates coming soon) but it got me thinking a lot about the role of the director.

 

It’s lonely “at the top”, am I right?

Being the one who’s ultimately responsible can feel very isolating.

There are so many stresses that you experience each day that you just can’t share with your team. Not only that, but you need to act like your day is going awesome, because if you seem stressed or worried then your staff will get stressed and worried (I learned this the hard way my first year as a camp director – apparently my ‘thinking’ face looks like a stressed face), plus there are just some things that are inappropriate to discuss with your staff.

I remember days when I was trying to get payroll finished, there was a problem with a camper’s health or behaviour (or both!), the food order was short potatoes AGAIN so the cook had to switch up the menu, it was raining so the schedule had to be shifted, there were a million other things on my to do list, and the campers and staff REALLY needed me to be at the talent show.

Now while most of those things weren’t handled directly by me, the nurse or counsellors were dealing with the camper health or behaviour issues, the cook was taking care of the ‘potato situation’, the programmer was shifting the schedule, and the ACD was tackling some of those items on the to do list for me – payroll and being there for the campers and staff were really the only things I was directly responsible for BUT and it’s a big but, everything else was ultimately my responsibility too.

Right?

As the camp director you may not be dealing directly with a situation, but you’re darn well aware of it.
You have people asking for advice, checking in with you, giving you updates – and if you have great, experienced staff it’s fairly simple. You can trust them to get it done, and done well.

If you have inexperienced (or dare I say, incompetent) staff, then there’s a lot more coaching and managing that’s necessary (which is expected with the inexperienced staff, and annoying if they’re just incompetent).

All the while, you need to make sure that you appear confident and in control.

It can feel exhausting at times.

That’s why it’s important to reach out to other camp directors. They understand what you’re going through, they might have gone through it themselves so they might be able to offer advice, or at the very least be someone you can bounce ideas off.

 

Three types of camp director friends to have:

 

 

1. A camp director who’s been doing it longer than you have.

They’ve been down the road before, they can offer advice and insight – and they usually have some great stories.

2. A peer

Someone who’s ‘in the trenches’ with you, they’re going through the same things you are, and sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone.

 

3. Someone who’s been doing this for less time than you

You might be able to offer them insight and advice the way your more experienced friend did for you, but they have a lot to offer too. They have a unique perspective to yours, because after you’ve been doing something for a while you start to take things for granted, you stop seeing scenarios through fresh eyes. Seeing situations through a lense of a new(er) director can help you ask different questions and potentially come up with new solutions to an old problem.

Any of these camp directors can be local to your camp’s physical location or online friends. Both are wonderful. I recommend cultivating a mix of local and online colleagues who you support and who support you.

I’m a huge fan of collaboration, I believe in helping each other and putting community over competition.

SO

1. feel free to reach out to me any ol’ time you want to pick someone’s brain. (I’m sure I fit into one of the three categories for pretty much all of you.)

And

2. I’d love to hear about the times this summer when you really needed to chat with another camp director. Tell me all about it in the comment section below OR hit me up on social media!

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2 Comments

  • Great advice. One thing that I find helpful (and pretty much what you suggest) is having a group of three directors that try to do lunch monthly in the slower seasons. A a group of peers, we’ve all been doing it different amounts of time, but we’re all strong in different areas. The three of us push each other to solve problems and encourage each other in those problems. It’s become a time that we all look forward to. Again great post

    • Oh I love that idea Tim!!

      What a great suggestion to be proactive about your connection and relationship, rather than only reading out when *IT* hits the fan! hahaha
      Great advice!!
      And thanks for your kind words. 🙂

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