Listables – It’s a roundup – of books!

I figured it was time to share some of the resources I’ve used over the past few years that (I think) have helped me become a better camp director.
I’m talkin’ bout BOOKS people! Yes, actual, physical, hold em in your hands, smell the pages, circle, underline, highlight, write in the margins, dog- eared, books! ahhhhhh!

I’ve always been a book lover; don’t get me wrong, I also use a ton of online resources for inspiration and education purposes, but that’s a post for another day (actually, it’ll probably be my next listables post) but my first love is a good book.

Here’s a few books I find useful. In no particular order.

IMG_08331. I love Malcolm Gladwell books. Unfortunately I couldn’t find David & Goliath, or The Tipping Point, which is my favourite of his (honestly, it’s one of my favourite books in general) so I couldn’t add them to this photo. But I love his books because they give me a different perspective, and I have all of these great moments where Gladwell can be talking about graffiti in New York’s subway stations or different types of mustard and I’ll have an epiphany about camper care or staff dynamics. Seriously!
He’s a phenomenal storyteller and the way he weaves seemingly unrelated topics together to support his argument inspires me to be more creative in my thinking and problem solving.

I highly recommend all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books (ok David & Goliath wasn’t my favourite, but still, great author)
The Tipping Point
What the Dog Saw
David & Goliath


2. This is kind of funny, I know. But if you’ve read my post 5 Quick Tips – First Impressions Of Your Site you know how important it is to me to have a clean and safe camp. If you haven’t, go ahead, I’ll wait, I don’t mind….

Now you get it right?

But seriously, I didn’t buy either of these books with camp specifically in mind, I just like organizing, and books, and voila! Match made in heaven! But once I started reading them, I realized that a lot of the tips/ advice could be used at camp too.
Mrs. Myers, Clean Home & Jennifer Ford Berry, Organize Now.


3. I actually read this book with this past year, and I liked that it gave me a totally different perspective of camp. I’ve been a counsellor and a camp director (and many of the positions in between) but I’ll never be a camp nurse (let’s all just take a moment to be grateful for that… I did not miss my calling as a nurse).
Some of the stories are hilarious, some of them are sort of horrifying, and it was a fun read.
It’s also a great reminder that everyone experiences camp differently, and anyone could write a book about it… that’s certainly something to keep in the back of your mind as a CD.
Tilda Shalof, Camp Nurse, My adventures at summer camp


4. It’s a book on knot tying AND a disc…oOOoooHHhhhh!!!!

Cause, come on. Knots. Camp. Good to have. Am I right? AND it comes with a bonus rope to practice with! Score!
Hinkler, Tying Knots

IMG_08565. Ok I had some mixed feelings about Linchpin, while I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of being irreplaceable in a camp setting (that I talk about that in my post Quotable Camp – The Cult of the Director) I loved Godin’s discussion around the Lizard Brain and operating from a place of fear. In fact Linchpin is what inspired me to start this blog, (I know, right?… d’awww) mind you, it took me about a year, but hey, it happened!
Read it and you’ll want to work your butt off doing ALL the things. Great inspiration for any leader.
PLUS Seth Godin is a camp person! Awesome!

Oh, also, I took a photo of the book with my cat, Einstein, because as you can see in the photo, my cat’s clearly liked it too.
Seth Godin, Linchpin.

IMG_0830 6. Ok, this is kind of a funny story (that my mum LOVES hearing!)
When I was 17 and going off to university, mom and dad were pushing really hard for me to take commerce because that’s what she had taken and dad ran his family business all his life… and I was all “eww… no… that sounds so boring! I’m 17; I know exactly what I want, and you people who have lived substantially longer than I have and have heaps more experience than I do, don’t know what you’re talking about” (I’m paraphrasing…)
So, off I went to university full of… aspirations of becoming a teacher or a social worker. Then the summer after my first year of uni, I worked at camp for the first time. (I know, I know, I wasn’t a camper, I totally missed out, but I make up for it by living vicariously through my campers now) I realized that THIS was the thing I wanted to do forever. I could still have an impact on kids and youth (and, as it turns out, adults) but I could do it without trying to get them to sit down and be still for hours and hours, or without the extra emotional drain that social work must cause. SWEET DEAL!
So there I was, studying history at university, working my way up the ranks of the camp ladder… fast forward 10 years. I’m sitting at my desk, in my office, of my full-time camp job, thinking “gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I had some business knowledge to go with all of this practical rec experience I’ve gained over the years…”
So I decided to enrol in some part-time business courses at the local college – cause guess what, camp IS a business. Now I just take a course here and there and pick away at it, but every time I take a new course I learn SO much that I can apply directly to my work. Awesome.

Turns out that my parents were on to something… who knew… haha

IMG_0850 7. These are just some light & fluffy books that I drag around with me. If I (or anyone around me) is feeling low, I turn to a few random pages in the Book of Awesome and it helps shift my mind-set to focus on the positive and appreciate the little things.
The Chicken Soup Books (there’s only one in the picture) are obviously a staple of any counsellor’s arsenal, so I’ve carried that along – still works like a charm. And the other books are all filled with quotes, I like to use them when I’m writing warm fuzzies or if I need a quick pick me up.
Neil Pasricha, The Book of Awesome, Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul (the one in the photo is Chicken Soup for the College Soul), Little Giant Encyclopedia of Toasts & Quotes


8. Well this is clearly the most practical out of all the books I’ve listed. This book is a fantastic resource for any new or experienced camp director. I highly recommend it, it’s a really great resource. I think they’re on to their 8th edition now, but I’ll stick with this one for now.

Armand and Beverly Ball, Basic Camp Management, An introduction to camp administration

IMG_0819 9. Ok, well… I feel like this one is self-explanatory… but just in case. Zombies.

Gotta be prepared man. And I feel like being prepared for a zombie apocalypse makes me a better camp director because I can anticipate worst case scenarios (and then look on the bright side that, hey, at least it’s not a zombie apocalypse!). Also there’s some useful survival advice in there… but more importantly, zombies.

Full disclosure – I *may* have an actual irrational fear of zombies. A few years ago when the whole “bath salts” (yeah, that’s right, I used quotations… I have my doubts…) thing was first being reported… my ACD found me crying listening to the news. yep. That happened.
Also, ya know the ice breaker where you go around the circle and say things about yourselves (using grass, or beads, or tp, or whatever) every year I tell my staff upfront that if the zombie apocalypse hits while we’re at camp, I’m out. I think it’s important to instil a sense of trust and confidence right away… at least I’m honest?

Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide


10. I just picked this one up last week.
I’m always looking for great little activities to do with my staff to drive home a point, whether it’s for a training workshop, or to help facilitate discussion on a day 0 about something that happened the previous week. So far I’m a fan. Some of the activities are pretty well used in camps, but there are some that will fit perfectly into training workshops I’m creating for this summer. Yay.

Brian Cole Miller, Quick Team Building Activities for Busy Managers

IMG_0876 11. Ahhh the Archie comic. I’ve been using these puppies at camp for the last 14 years. I LOVED Archie’s when I was a kid, so I’ve just always brought them to camp with me for campers who were homesick, bored (bored?), hurt, couldn’t sleep, etc. Turns out they work great with staff too! I’ll just flip em a book and it keeps them entertained for a while (if they’re sick or waiting for me in the office for some reason…). AND THEN it gives you something to chat about later (because, obviously they’ll fall in love with Archie and the gang too) – that’s more of a tip for chatting with campers though.
I guess the reason why I think these little comics help make me a better CD is because my staff and campers know I’m thinking about them. It’s often the little things that make people feel cared for. “I heard you’re not feeling great, here’s a cold cloth, a glass of water, and one of my favourite little books to read. I’ll check on you later, feel better.” So easy, huge impact.

Archie Comics


IMG_0879 I thought this was funny. So I added it as a bonus book.

I’ve clearly not read this yet. As evidenced in every single photo above… but I will… someday. And maybe even some other resources, and I’m sure that will make me a better CD because I’ll be able to capture and share the magic of camp. But for now… not so much.

Canon Rebel 

So those are some of the books that help me do my job. Do you have a favourite book that inspires you in some way? Do you even read books or do you get most of your info online? Tell me about it in the comment section below. I’d really love to hear your suggestions for new resources.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WAIT!   ... You forgot your free resource!



Teach your staff about developmental assets to help them understand why children & youth make certain choices
AND how your program can help them grow!


Subscribe now for occasional newsletter updates about The Camp Nerd, Patchwork Marketplace, Rec Heads & Camp Nerds Podcast, and more!! 




Stay in the know & get free stuff!!

Please wait...

Has anyone told you you're awesome yet today?
Just in case, here it is, you're pretty darn awesome!

Click here for your freebie and stay tuned for exciting updates!