From November 8th – 12th, 2016 I participated in the International Camp Director Course run by the International Camping Fellowship and It. Was. AWESOME!
The information we covered was pretty standard stuff you’d expect at a course like this, and I had at least one “ah-ha” moment in each workshop.
By far the best part was learning from the AMAZING facilitators and the sharing and discussion that happened organically around the room.
The course was facilitated by Connie Coutellier, who is from the USA and is the ICDC coordinator, Jen Dundas, and Donna Wilkinson who are both Canadian camp professionals and all three of these women are an AMAZING wealth of knowledge!!!
I absolutely loved learning from them during our workshops, but I also really loved just chatting with them and “picking their brains” when we weren’t in workshops.
I’m gushing, I know. But they were just really wonderful, and I’m just so grateful that I got to know them.
The course was held at the beautiful, wonderful, and amazing Camp Tawingo in Huntsville Ontario.
Without exaggeration one of the highlights of the course was our tour of the camp; it’s beautiful in a very campy way – but that’s not the part that’s most impressive, (although it IS super impressive… look at these lovely buildings! Even through my terrible photography, you can see how beautiful they are.)
By far and large, the coolest thing about Camp Tawingo is how intentional everything is. From the way they serve/ clean tables, to the way the facilities are laid out, and certainly the way the program is structured – it’s seriously incredible!!!
The other wonderful thing about being at Camp Tawingo is that we got to spend time with, and learn from Jorgi (John Jorgenson) who is one of the directors there. The man is practically an institution in Canadian camping (and international camping – he’s the current president of the ICF).
He’s a freakin’ rock star!
And were were total groupies!! (ok, maybe that was just me!) hahaha
But seriously, if you get a chance to chat with people with as much insight and experience in the industry as the four people I mentioned above… be a groupie!!
Ask questions, listen more than you talk, and absorb as much as you can!
There were people attending from all over Canada, as well as some folks from Paris & Turkey by way of USA.
So not only were there a broad range of geographical experiences represented, but pretty much every type of camp program was represented as well, we had people from day camps, faith based camps, health based camps, travelling camps, traditional camps, association based camps… you name it, we had it! Which led to some really interesting conversations, perspectives, and knowledge.
Not only were there different places and camps represented, but there were a broad range of positions represented as well.
We had people who were working in camping for a few years who worked more on the programming side of things, right up to executive directors who had been working in camping for 30 or so years. We even had one gal who had worked at camp many moons ago, but was returning because she’s starting her own camp program – she totally inspired me, but that’s a post for next week!!
As I mentioned above, it’s exactly what you’d expect to cover at a course like this. I won’t talk a whole lot about the topics we covered because there’s a list of them on the ICF, ICDC page so check that out.
I will say that the delivery of the material was awesome, there was a great combination of group work, individual work & reflection, facilitator led workshops and discussion, organic group discussion, and activities.
There was also a chance for us to put the work we were covering into practical use by creating a mock camp program – I won’t say anymore about that, so I don’t ruin any surprises for any of you who choose to take the course (and I highly recommend that you do!)
I received so many awesome tips and tidbits from facilitators and participants alike, but one of my favourite (and totally brilliant) pieces of advice came from Jen Dundas when we were covering paperwork policies, procedures, etc.
In Canada you need to keep your camper files for a minimum of 7 years AFTER the camper reaches the age of majority (age 18 in Can). That’s something we already knew, pretty standard information… BUT Jen said this, and it rocked my world…
“Once your season is over determine the youngest camper you had during the season, then use their age as your benchmark for your date to destroy your documents.”
So for 2016, my youngest camper was 6 years old, so I’ll write on the box – 2016 camper files, destroy 2035 – it’s just so simple, and so brilliant! Never again will I have to stand in the storage closet doing math to figure out which boxes can go to the shredder.
PLUS – we got the new edition of the Camp Managment book – SCORE! And a super useful binder with all the information in all the land. DOUBLE SCORE!
I have one of the previous editions of the book, that I bought on Amazon second hand, and it was really useful, so I was super psyched to get the 8th edition!
In case you didn’t notice… I liked the course. 🙂
I strongly recommend that everyone take it if the chance arises, not just for the learning opportunity (although that’s phenomenal) but also for the networking and relationship building – and inspiration!!! There are so many cool people doing cool things out there, that to get to sit around a dinner table and chat with them about it is such a wonderful opportunity. Ok, I’ll stop before I start gushing again.
I liked it so much in fact, that I’ve added ‘become a ICDC facilitator’ to my bucket list. I’m going to wait a few more years – cause I still consider myself pretty new in the industry. Maybe I’ll aim to do it for my 20th “Campiversary” – which, when I think about it, is only about 4 years away!!! Yikes! Maybe my 25th….
Have any of you ever taken the International Camp Directors Course? What did you think of it? If you haven’t, is it something you’re planning on adding to your professional development plan? Tell me about it in the comment section below.
AND, keep an eye out for next weeks post, I have some new adventures to share. 🙂