New Director’s Guide to CampStaff

Fall Staffing season is upon us! And although the volume of new staff inquiries are fractions of what is to come after the Christmas break, the not so hidden value of CampStaff in the fall is that the active database already contains thousands of active job seekers.

(or a Refresher for Directors still recovering from Camp ’19)

Fall Staffing season is upon us! And although the volume of new staff inquiries are fractions of what is to come after the Christmas break, the not so hidden value of CampStaff in the fall is that the active database already contains thousands of active job seekers. Some of which will now have one or more summer’s experience at camp and are now looking to advance their summer responsibilities and job opportunities.

Taking a few minutes to update your camp listings (or start a new one at CampStaff.com) and start your start searches can lead to quality hires. Even though the quantity of applicants is at the low end of the CampStaff staffing cycle. There are quality candidates and historically more to come before Christmas break. After the New Year, all bets are off as they say, because in 2018-2019 staffing season we saw between 11,000 and 12,000 active job seekers.

UPDATE YOUR LISTING

The annual membership allows for your camp to list as many jobs as you choose. Scroll through and make sure you aren’t overlooking any openings or potential openings. If you don’t see a specific job listed, please let us know. As camp programs evolve, so have our job listings.

MODIFY YOUR CAMP DESCRIPTIONS

Again, camps can make changes as often as you like to both your long and short camp descriptions. Remember the short description appears next to your logo in search results; the long description is in your full profile.

Successful camps tend to use the short description to highlight either targeted camp searches or newly added programs or facilities. (Ie, “Our camp features 3 little league regulation baseball fields, batting cages and day trip to see the Yankees. We are searching for 3 baseball instructors” or “Now hiring wakeboard instructors and boat drivers for 2 newly added Momba Wake Boats” These are changed frequently as application come in.

START YOUR STAFF SEARCHES, HIRE QUALITY STAFF AND SAVE $

We know you’ve probably completed a budget analysis from the 2019 summer and have started focusing on how to get the most out of your 2020 staff dollars. If you are like most camps, US staff are considerably cheaper to hire than internationals (especially when all the agency fees are considered). However, for most of us staffing is more than just a cost consideration, it is also the quality of staff you can hire for that cost.

Your membership includes unlimited searches. Get an early jump on filling some key positions or spots you’ve had trouble filling in the past. Target the positions you’ve been forced to pay more for (even though the actual staff member received less cash) and see what’s out there. You might be able to attract real super star staff by paying the same amount for domestic staff as for internationals.

Of course for camps that sponsor their own J-1 program, hundreds of intentional staff list with CampStaff in hopes of securing a visa directly.

Quick Fall TO-DO list for camps

Summer 2019 is in the rearview with 2020 approaching fast on the horizon and you know what that means…staffing season has begun. Here are a few tips to ease you back into the flow and let CampStaff help you get the staffing season off right.

Summer 2019 is in the rearview with 2020 approaching fast on the horizon and you know what that means…staffing season has begun. Here are a few tips to ease you back into the flow and let CampStaff help you get the staffing season off right.

Update your DATES. 

Log into your profile and enter your 2020 dates for camp…including the year! If you don’t, when staff search by availability dates, your 2019 listings may not show up. This seem like an easy one, but has happened, especially when staffing responsibilities have been handed off from last spring to new staffing directors.

Tweak your camp descriptions for the fall staffing season.

Our experience is that staff searching this early in the hiring season are either seasoned pros -veteran staff looking to advance to bigger camp roles, or actual pros – like teachers and coaches looking to lock in summer plans for themselves and their families. Consider featuring some of the things that “experienced” staff find appealing about your camp. Don’t worry, we’ll remind you to switch back when the college aged staff start flooding the job search.

Set your key fall staffing priorities

(Ok, this probably should have been first, but if you only did one thing today, we wanted to be updating the DATES so staff can find you!)

Make a list of your known key needs and a list of your maybe-I’ll-need someones. Odd are these are very specific skill sets and that experience can be very beneficial.

As mentioned above, fall is a great time to find experienced staff for key positions, especially those may have “hit a wall” at their current camp and are looking for a change.

We know you’ve had them at your camp, the very cable assistant waterfront director ready to move up only to be faced with the reality of a great waterfront director of 10 years already in front of them. By now you know ou philosophy – “what’s good for camping is ultimately good for my camp”. We want those #2’s in camping to have opportunities to move up or we absolutely know that we will lose them from camping altogether. There are too many competing summer opportunities for us as a camp industry to think our best and brightest will simply stick around in positions they are unhappy with. The more  of these capable “stars” we can keep in camping, the more people we have to bring in new talent to camping.

Set Your New Staff up For Success: 6 Musts For Summer Camps

Photo Credit Camp Kamaji for Girls

The following article is sponsored content provided by Circuitree.com

The quality of your summer camp staff can make or break the success of your season. Your staffers are the backbone of your camp that holds all of the operations together. You need an effective staff to ensure your all your camp’s activities and operations go off without a hitch.

Most of your staff will be teenagers or young adults who are starting their first job. This can be intimidating and overwhelming for them if not handled properly. You should do everything in your power to ensure your staff is equipped with everything they need to succeed at your summer camp.

While some of your new staffers may have been campers growing up or otherwise have experience in a summer camp setting, others in your new staff may be unfamiliar with the workings of a summer camp. It is your job to prepare them for anything that may be thrown at them and foster their growth throughout the summer.

When you are preparing for the summer with new staff, make sure you:

 

Perfect your hiring process.

Keep your staff informed.

Effectively train your staff.

Equip your staff with useful tools.

Make time for team building.

Listen to staff feedback.

 

If you want to engage in committed and long-lasting staff relationships, you must create a good experience at your camp that will make your new staff want to keep coming back year after year. Your new staffers, though inexperienced, don’t have to be a hindrance to your operations. With these 6 tips, you will learn how to set your staff up for success with ease.

Perfect your hiring process.

Setting your new staffers up for success all starts with hiring the right candidates. Not everyone is cut out for working at a summer camp, and you should make sure you are selecting only the candidates who will be able to thrive in that environment.

The hiring process for any business can be tricky, but with summer camp staff management, there are even more than the usual factors that must be taken into consideration. Because your staffers will be working with children, you need to make sure you’re hiring the perfect people for the job. There is absolutely no room for error.

To streamline this process and ensure you hire the best possible candidates, you should adopt an effective camp software that will make the hiring process easier and more efficient.

Make sure the software you choose will enable you to:

 

  • Strategize before an interview. Your software platform should provide a tool that will house your interview questions prior to an interview and store them according to the candidate.

 

  • Stay organized during an interview. Use a notetaking tool to annotate your interview questions during the interview so you can make sure you ask and receive answers to all the important questions.
  • Build candidate profiles. Make sure your software will compile all the candidate information into a centralized database and present it in an easy-to-read manner.

 

 

  • Reach out to candidates. You should be able to extend offers to your candidates and receive acceptances through your software tool. Don’t forget to personalize your approach to new candidates so they know they are appreciated.

 

Hiring an effective staff is the first step toward successfully supporting your new staff, but the preparation shouldn’t stop there.

Keep your staff informed.

Your staff should never feel left in the dark about anything going on at your camp. You should be regularly updating them throughout the summer about the operations of the camp that apply to their roles there.

Make sure your staffers have ready access to pertinent information that will help them perform their jobs. You may do this in a variety of ways, including:

  • Email newsletters at the beginning of each session.
  • Camp-wide staff meetings at the beginning and end of each section.
  • Position specific meetings throughout the summer.

Because you are dealing with children on a daily basis, maintaining an informed staff is all the more important. You don’t want any mistakes to happen when managing and caring for children what could have easily been avoided with effective communication.

You should regularly update your staff regarding:

  • Campers with extreme allergies.
  • New policy changes that affect their position.
  • Updates about a specific camp session.
  • The addition or removal of camp activities.
  • Administrative updates.

Don’t let internal communications fall by the wayside. Your new staffers may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of their new job and keeping them informed will enable them to become more comfortable with their role.

Effectively train your staff.

Staff training is crucial for incoming staffers. While there are many items that you should cover in your summer camp staff training, you should try to tailor your training experience around:

 

  • Increasing engagement with the staff. Maintain open, honest communication between your staff and your administration so that you can encourage your new staffers to return every year.

 

  • Enhancing camper safety. Camper safety is the number one priority of your camp. Your training process must incorporate different safety protocols, from emergency preparedness to weather crises. You should be able to assure parents that their kids are in good hands because you train your staff extensively.
  • Fostering staff leadership qualities. Your staffers are at the beginning of their careers. You should train your staff to seek out new opportunities to grow within your camp and excel in leadership roles.  
  • Providing your staff with the necessary resources. Make sure your staff has easy access to all the necessary tools to properly manage their campers. The right software platform will easily facilitate this.

 

 

Don’t forget to utilize your existing and returning staff members to help provide a real perspective on the day-to-day expectations of the role.

Equip your staff with useful tools.

Throughout the summer, your staffers will be engaging with countless campers and participating in and facilitating numerous activities. They should be equipped with all the tools necessary to make this an easy and efficient process.

While camp software certainly has its perks for you as you hire staff and manage the camp, the best camp software will have tools that specifically ease the staffer’s experience, too.

Remember, your adopting a camp database software will assist your staffers in their day-to-day camper management tasks, creating an effective and efficient environment. You 

You should look for software with:

A centralized database.

Don’t let your staff lose track of camper information. With a centralized database, your staffers will easily be able to track and keep records on campers throughout the summer. This eliminates the need to manually organize the information or manage it across a range of platforms.  

Integrated communication tools.

Communication tools should be completely integrated into whichever software you choose. Whether the staffers are communicating with you, other staffers, or with campers and parents, the right tools need to be available to them. Find a software platform that will allow you to send scheduled, automated, and mass emails as well as personalized, individual emails.

Electronic health center.

Your campers should always have easy access to medical attention but it can be difficult to manage medical information on such a large scale. With an electronic health center, your staffers can easily access and manage the camper data. Parents will love this feature and staffers will appreciate the ease of what is normally a complicated task.

One sector that depends heavily on software at all levels of operations is professional event planning. If you’ve never worked with any type of comprehensive planning or management software before, explore this list of a few top event planning tools. Their features will give you a sense of the level of customization and comprehensiveness you should look for in your software platform.

Make time for team building.

Team building is an important component of creating a healthy and successful staff environment. If you want your new staffers to succeed, you need to make them feel welcome and like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

It is important to create some time for fun bonding activities when you are initiating new members into your staff.

Team building exercises should have three main objectives:

  • Allow your staff a chance to get to know one another.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to engage with your staff.
  • Get new staffers out of their comfort zones.

Most people very strongly dislike warm-up activities and getting-to-know-you activities, but once they actually start participating there is a definite shift in their attitude. Your staffers should feel comfortable with one another and with camp leadership if they are going to effectively be able to engage campers throughout the summer.

For an easy way to inspire a team-oriented perspective, you should create custom camp t-shirts that will visually create a unified perspective for your staff. You should utilize an online service like Bonfire’s custom t-shirt supply to best accomplish this.

Listen to staff feedback.

One of the best ways you can know how to help your new staffers adjust to camp life and fully understand their new role is to simply listen to the feedback of your existing staff.

Every year, you have a wide variety of staff members that are running into small hiccups or encountering challenges that need to be smoothed out. Because they are dealing with the issues directly, they will likely have important thoughts on how these issues can be dealt with in the future.

Consider using a staff survey, like CircuiTree’s summer camp evaluation form, that will assess the staffers’ experience at your camp and gather any information you desire regarding potential improvements.

You may want to ask questions like:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your experience working at Camp [insert name here]?
  • What was your favorite part of working here?
  • Do you feel like your training properly prepared you for the summer?
  • Is there anything you would change about your camp experience?

Let your staffers’ voices be heard. Your new staff will benefit greatly from the insight the returning staff can offer, and you should facilitate the continued refreshing of staff operations.

Your new summer camp staff members deserve to enter the summer with their best foot forward. Follow these 6 tips and prepare your new staffers for a great summer camp experience!

Article Written By Glen Greenstone. Circuitree.

Screenshot 2019-05-22 08.34.51

Bio: Before becoming a camp professional, Glen enjoyed many other pursuits. A native San Diegan, he worked through college as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. He has a passion for literature and the outdoors, and is a veteran of U.S. Coast Guard, so he naturally loves to get out on the water with his wife and two kids whenever possible. He loves hearing camp cheers outside his office window during the summer, while helping camps across the country overcome their unique challenges!

 

Fast ways to fill your last camp jobs

photo credit: Camp Tanadoona

Opening day of camp is just around the corner and you still have a few positions to fill. No need to panic, you have a few no cost or low cost options easily available and one huge annual event working in your favor.

Colleges are wrapping up the school year and thousands of students are suddenly struck with the reality of returning home for the summer and living at home or finding a cool job that also pays the rent and groceries.  A summer working away from home might be sounding better and better. Summer camp jobs fit the bill!

Reach out to your camp community. We realize you’ve probably done this all year but yes, do it again. One, there is a lot of e-clutter out there and some (many?) of your emails will have been missed. But two, plans change and potential staff may now be available – especially those who returned home and are now being pressed by parents to get a summer job.

Send your detailed job description to EVERYONE in your camp database. Former camper and staff as well as your current families and staff. Include your board members, donors, vendors, anyone who knows camp and might be willing to share the job post.

If your camp communications are organized, it will only take a few minutes to reach potentially thousands of eyes.

Review and reach out to applicants from earlier in the hiring year. Again, plans change so someone who turned you down earlier in the year may now be available. Review some of the borderline applicants that you rejected this year. Maybe you were holding out for a better credentialed person and now those credentials are less important. Also, YOUR plans may have changed, in January you only needed 3 lifeguards, now with more campers you need 4. 

Again if your contact software and systems are good, it should only take a few minutes to send a quick inquiry email.

Use a summer camp specific job mailing list.  The goal is to be fast and summer camp specific job mailing list only hit people already interested in summer camp jobs. No need to spend time recruiting the person away from other types jobs they might find on a big multi-industry job site. CampStaffExpress has a 4,000+ summer camp job seeker mailing list. One ad can be blasted out to people already thinking about a job. Paid, highly targeted social media boosts for your summer camp job listing can reach double or triple that number.

Newsletter blasts out every Wednesdays, with social boosted daily.

CampStaff  members can send DIRECT EMAILS. Members only feature allows camps to target the entire CampStaff job seeker database or any subset or combination of criteria with a single email. For examples, 21 year old or older boat drivers, 18 and older male cabin staff, etc. Or on CampStaffNurses, RN’s available for July, etc)

CampStaff member camps can follow the direct email link for details. 

Pack a camp dog; unpack staff stress.

There has been a large amount of attention lately being put on the topic of the mental health of summer camp staff. Rightfully so, as studies show that more than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45% have felt things were hopeless.

While the very idea of coming to camp for a new counselor may sound uplifting, spontaneous, care-free, and “a break”, camp environments can also bring on stress, anxiety, and worry.

Camp directors have been reading up on the topic of mental health, attending presentations on how to best offer support to staff over the summer, and learning how to take care of themselves as to lead by example. Here’s one more, simple way to help your summer staff reduce feelings of anxiety and worry this summer…..bring a dog to camp!

The friendlier, the more playful, the sweeter the better! According to Purina Dog Foods, “When we are around animals, we become more joyous, communicative, expressive, and calm.” And Harvard Health Blog,  states that pets also improve people’s psychological well-being and self-esteem.

Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. So if your camp does not yet have a dog, get looking! Maybe one of your seasoned staff has a trained dog that is good with children and large groups of people, if you don’t have a dog readily available at your home. We wouldn’t suggest buying a puppy now and planning on bringing it to camp. Dogs who are a little bit older and out of the puppy stage make a better camp fit. Also, puppies will take up a lot of your time, and time is not necessarily a free resource at camp.

When traveling recently through the Charlotte, NC, airport, I met a therapy dog, who volunteers with her owner to reduce stress of travelers. On a college campus yesterday, I witnessed a “de-stress with dogs” event to help students relax before finals week. Relaxing with dogs is a real thing.

Translating this theory to camp…I saw the advantages first hand last summer while at camp where three dogs all enjoyed camp life. Dog 1 visited only on walks through camp and got tons of hugs from mostly campers. Dog 2 was well trained and stayed off the leash but near his owner. This dog was “dog-sat” often by other staff members and by full bunks of campers. Dog 3 stayed on a leash and came to the office in the afternoons to sit on the porch and almost always had a visitor with him. The best part was the new activity entitled “Doggoe’s” which was camp-speak for your group being able to hang out with the dogs at the waterfront, swimming and playing. Easy to do, with huge results on the mental health radar.  The amount of dog-related activities at camp is endless, really.

The down-side of a camp dog? Yes, poop. Yes, barking at squirrels. The upsides? helping the self-esteem of your campers and staff, lower stress levels, a non-judgmental listener, a perfect hug, and contagious calm. Well worth it, if you ask me.

 

 

 

4 Ways to Help New Staff Transition into Camp

photo credit Camp Kzoo/Super Rec, MI

New staff will be at camp soon! They have interviewed, filled out forms, packed and travelled in preparation for their summer job.  They may have driven a short distance or have flown across the world to work for you. Are you ready to show them that you appreciate them? 

Here are 4 easy ideas to carry out this summer to ensure that the transition into camp is as easy as possible for new staff. After all, you really couldn’t run their camp without them! Be ready when your staff arrive at camp. 

• Food. Yes, full bellies will help staff transition into camp a little bit easier. At your welcome/sign-in station, offer a light meal or a variety of heavy snacks (fruit, snack bars, cookies) this is both a nice welcoming touch for staff and a smart touch for camp directors.  After a day of travel, new staff will be able to adjust to their new setting without the added challenge of fighting low blood sugar levels.  Put out plenty of water, juices and other drinks too, especially for those staff that may have traveled via plane – no need to be dehydrated before the summer even starts!

• Be sure you have a welcome crew ready to greet new staff as they pull into camp.  Have your greeters all wearing the same color t-shirts or something that clearly identifies them as “go to’s” for new staff.  Assign one returning staff member to every new member as their personal greeter.  Greeters literally meet the new staff member when they get to camp, help them with their bags, and help them settle in. Think of it as a dry-land buddy system.  (For returning staff, it is a super nice touch to have a few staff members around to greet and help with their bags too – everyone loves a welcome wagon!). Your greeters can help new staff members get their “sea legs” faster and feel a bit more confident at camp starting off with at least one personal connection to a veteran staffer.

• Have maps and schedules posted and readily available for new staff when they arrive at camp. You can also email new staff these before they arrive at camp to help reduce day one anxiety. Showing up at a new place, often secluded in the woods, and always with a unique layout, can be overwhelming for anyone; help reduce confusion by providing a road map – literally!  A schedule of events will help new staff understand when and where they need to be and what is expected of them. 

• A personal hello from the camp director will go a long way.  Even if you have hundreds of staff arriving, set up a system in which the director will say a personal hello within the first few hours of the new staff member arriving.  Spreadsheets work here (although we would recommend not letting the new staff see you check them off the list after saying your hello’s). Over 20 years since my first arrival at camp in New Hampshire, I can remember exactly where I was standing when the director shouted out my name and hugged me hello. I was in awe that this woman knew me months after we had spoken on the phone and was genuinely excited to see me. Directors, it may a bit of work to say hello in the first few hours of each staff’s arrival, but the payoff will be priceless. 

Get Staff to Read Your Emails

Are you frustrated with the lack of response to your staffing emails? You aren’t alone. We hear this from camps: “I found a great job candidate, I reached out, it started great and then nothing when I followed up with emails (cue cricket sounds).” Well, it might not be the job or you…it may be that the emails you are sending are getting swallowed up by the  avalanche of email a college student gets every day.

Just take a look at any .edu email account. The amount of daily mail is overwhelming in both number and in scope, to say the least. Below are a few random subject titles in my graduate school acount inbox:

  • 22ndAnnual Race Judicat
  • Assistant Director of Student Experiences
  • Coca-Cola at Career Center
  • Invite to improve student services
  • Spread the Love Peanut Butter Drive

Here’s the thing, someone thought I should get each of these and included me on a mailing list…however none of these subject titles seemed relevant so I skipped them, saving a few to read later (meaning probably never) and deleted the rest. Yep, the peanut butter one was on the read later list!

Consider this…these 5 emails all came within an hour or so. And not shown are the actual relevant emails I did open and respond to. Now imagine your correspondance regarding a camp job needs to slip somewhere into this daily mess.

How to stand out and get a response? Here’s a few things we’ve learned at CampStaff over several million emails to college students.

1. INCLUDE YOUR CAMP NAME IN THE SUBJECT

Don’t just reply on the from line to ID your emails. Scrolling through on phones are the primary way college get their messages. Let them see your name stacked! (Look at your phone now and you’ll understand why!).

2. BE CLEAR IN THE SUBJECT

“Camp Fun: RE Sailing Job in Maine”

Accept the fact that almost every job candiate you will contact this year (and every year forward) will probably be weighing several other job or experience opportunities from other camps or other industries. The job marketed is strong for college students looking for summer jobs.  Be clear in the subject line as to who you are and what you are discussing – every time!  Again, college students are bombed by information.

3. SEND MULTIPLE EMAILS

We’ve already established that college inboxes are full. If you don’t getting a response, resend the email. Maybe it was over looked, maybe it was designated “read later” and just forgotten. Before your start thinking..SPAM!, hear us out. Spam is unsolicited, irrelevant email. Your job candidate at some point wanted this job…you are just making sure they get the full opportunity.

So, send the same email with the same subject again, and again, and again. A couple of things can happen.. 1. they respond and the hiring process moves forward or 2. they respond no thanks, please stop eamiling and you move one.

BONUS TIPS

Combine your email with a mini social media campaign

Of course you’ve already encouraged all job seekers to like or follow your staff social feeds.  Take it a step farther and follow or like them back. This gives you another reach out channel – direct messages or comments on their posts to keep camp in the loop. There is an additional benefit here that CampStaff has used very successfully – every time you post a comment, your name shows up in that person’s feed so that their friends can see your connection. We’ve had registered job seekers tell us, “I saw your name in a friend’s feed and was curious enough to register.” This can work for your camp too!

Include prospective staff in your newsletter, blog and/or podcast list.

Staying in front of prospective staff is key; they will see your camp name in various places and slowly, your camp will move to the front of their mind. Now, we are not suggesting by any means that you bombard them with meaningless content for the sake of putting your name out there. Instead, publish interesting articles on your blog, send newsletters with relevant information about working at camp, publish your podcasts of you interviewing a returning staff member (need an example? Here’s one of our podcasts interviewing a new staff member). In other words, be relevant! Worse case, they unsubscribe from your mailings.

Keep up the good work staffing!

 

Free Ways to Incentivize Your Returning Staff to “Bring a Friend”

Photo Credit Camp Highland, GA

In a brainstorming conversation with a friend who is staffing for a camp with a smaller recruiting budget, we came up with some great ideas that camps can implement for free. Yes, Free! A great way to recruit has always been to ask your existing staff to bring a friend to camp with them. Many camps offer financial rewards to bring a friend to camp. However, if your budget does not allow for a financial payoff, consider the culture of your camp. There must be some popular, camp-specific rewards that you can use to entice your returning staff to bring a friend.

Here are some of the ideas that we came up with for you to use or to inspire you to come up with your own for your specific camp.

For every returning staff member that successfully brings a friend to camp, consider the following rewards:

  • special meal at the director’s cabin during the summer (very little cost to the camp. You can even serve what the dining hall is serving; the idea of eating at the director’s house without campers may be a huge incentive)
  • movie night with snacks at the staffing director’s cabin (again, very little cost involved but enough to make this group of referring returners know they did a great job by bringing a friend to camp)
  • Local ice cream or favorite bakery to send treats to these staff at camp

Consider this as another idea: drop all the names of the staff members who brought a friend to camp into a hat for a big drawing. Possible Prizes:

  • Be the director for the day (and yes, the director would be the counselor for the day…..can you think of a better way for the director to really see what happens on an average day?)
  • Best parking spot (some camps have staff parking lots that are a bit of a hike from main camp….the prize would allow one staff member to park in the best and closest spot to main camp all summer)
  • Use of camp technology for staff prom invite (if your camp has a staff dance in which staff ask one another out publicly, offer the use of camp microphone, Instagram account, newsletter, etc. for the winner to use in his/her date asking)
  • Night off with access to director’s house and refrigerator (be sure to stock your fridge first!)
  • Sunset Cruise (you’ll have to employ your waterfront staff to help on this one)

You get the idea. Think of your own camp culture and reward staff based on what is seen as desirable at your specific camp.

Make the reward system public. In front of your whole camp or at least your whole staff, recognize this awesome group of returners who are sharing the greatness of your camp with their own friends by bringing their friends to camp. If your new staff see that it’s a “thing” to bring friends to camp, more people will bring friends to camp next summer, and then following summer, and so forth.

Good luck staffing!

 

 

 

How to Make your Camp Organization Systems a Breeze

photo credit JotForm.com

In preparing for my own summer at camp this year, I’ve been thinking of how the people under my supervision organize themselves. Usually, I find a new supervisor spends the first 7-10 days of camp trying to figure out their “system” of organization. In the past, this system has taken on forms of binders, small notebooks, laptops or ipads, smartphones, writing on the back of the hand, or just trying to remember it all.

To combat this time drain of trial and error, this summer I’ll be presenting our young and/or new supervisors just 2 systems of how to best organize themselves; this includes ways to keep track of notes on campers, keeping track of a to-do list, and keeping schedules/bunk lists in order. Once a young supervisor has a system they’ve committed to, they are welcome to make alterations to it to make it their own system.

While I won’t impose my own “systems” on you,  our friends at JotForm have shared with us their go-to forms/tools for helping camps best organize themselves for opening day and beyond.

Camp directors, take note — these tools are here to make your life easier.

JotForm — for quick and easy information gathering

Looking for a user friendly place for forms specific to your camp?  JotForm summer camp registration forms aren’t just great for the initial gathering of information or for facilitating quick and easy payments.JotForm also makes it easy to share this data so your camp counselors have all the information they need when they need it.

Camper information can be easily converted through  PDF Editors to create handouts for staff or name tags for participants. Come opening day, the last thing you want to worry about is hunting down those name tags because they’ve been lost in the digital abyss.

And because JotForm provides HIPAA-compliant forms for camps, parents can rest assured that their children’s personal and health information is secure.

 

Talmundo — to streamline the onboarding process

As with any job, summer camps require employee onboarding. This will likely happen before the camp actually opens. But when starting a summer camp, it’s an important process to keep in mind.

To be sure the process is smooth and efficient — and doesn’t run over into the first day of camp — use Talmundo.

Talmundo is a great way to destress and improve the onboarding process for all parties — both employers and employees. This digital platform comes equipped with all the bells and whistles to give employees a streamlined experience.

They get a rundown of the rules, their responsibilities, the camp itself, and more without you having to hold their hands and walk them through the process. This saves you time, freeing you up to tackle the big tasks coming your way on day one of summer camp.

Evernote — so you can keep your thoughts in order

There are hundreds of things going on inside a camp manager’s head: concerns about camper safety, what employees are doing (or not), and how to inspire your young charges.

Sometimes, the best ideas come to us in the weirdest of times, like when we’re in a budget meeting that never seems to end.

But with Evernote, you can easily take notes, create checklists, and make sure nothing gets lost or forgotten.

Everyone needs something to take them out of the craziness of it all — and this platform lets you relax your mind and focus your thoughts.

Evernote is an essential tool for a smooth opening day. You’ll be stressed, busy, and probably a little sweaty. But at least you can write it all down before you lose it to the void!

Trello — to keep everyone on track

Trello is a project management tool that lets you keep an eye on the status of all your open tasks, activities, meetings, and more.

Trello cards can be shared with employees for group tasks. But this tool is also great for keeping track of your own tasks.

Trello can help you break down a project into separate parts so you know what you need to accomplish, where you need to be, and what fires to put out before it’s too late.

And believe me, there will be fires.

 

Google Calendar — to make sure everyone knows when lunch is

Everyone has to eat, right?

Google Calendar is an easy, free, and intuitive platform that all camp employees are sure to understand.

It can be hard keeping everyone on track. And it can be hard to remember what task comes next and where the next meeting is.

Google Calendar keeps you accountable. And it keeps all of your employees ready to take the day by storm, making the first day at camp successful for everyone.

Thanks to our friends at JotForm for sharing their ideas – we’ve used all but one of the tools they’ve mentioned and I have to agree with them; there is a place for each of these tools in camp if you are searching for a better organizational method.

 

 

 

3 Ways to Keep Your Summer Camp Staff Applicants from Ghosting

Ghosting is the digital age version of standing you up. We are sure you’ve read about ghosting in the staffing world. Everyone from Google and Amazon on down is currently fighting this phenomenon. Newspapers, network news and every online media outlet has reported about ghosting job interviews, internship offers and actual jobs. The good news […]

Ghosting is the digital age version of standing you up. We are sure you’ve read about ghosting in the staffing world. Everyone from Google and Amazon on down is currently fighting this phenomenon. Newspapers, network news and every online media outlet has reported about ghosting job interviews, internship offers and actual jobs.

The good news for camps, is that we’ve dealt with this for far longer than these other industries seem to have – noting how shocked they are when a hire doesn’t show up for the job. But what camp hasn’t had a no-show on the first day of staff training? Part of the reason CampStaff was built to fill these last minute drops.  Here’s a refresher for you vets and and a crash course for any newbies.

 

Simplify and speed up your hiring process

When you reach out to a potential applicant, be prepared to interview and hire on the spot. Before you say, it can’t be done…Why are camp directors comfortable committing to international staff on the spot at overseas job fairs but make American applicants jump through hoops?

You have an application in hand before your reach out. Whether it’s CampStaff’s universal application or the one the applicant filled out your own application at your website. If it’s worth calling them, texting them or emailing them, it’s worth an interview as soon as they are available.

Offer the job contingent on reference checks and submitted paperwork. You probably already have this wording in your contract. Assign someone to track down the reference checks.  We’ve seen camps use summer staff for this purpose.  Why not pay a few responsible staff to do this now? The bonus is it gives you the opportunity to strengthen relationships with key staff and improve their odds of sticking around a few more years.

 

Make a personal connection between the applicant and your camp

If your staffing team is good at this (and has time) then great. If not, remember you have an army of recruiters ready to sing the praises of your camp – current and former staff!  Use them. Find out how to turn your returning staff into recruiters.

Make sure the new hire is connected with your social media feeds.  Encourage your veteran staff to reach out to new staff online.

Stay organized and focus on top candidates or hard to fill positions first

This can be the most difficult part of the current hiring environment. We are all aware that staff hiring season is a slowly increasing trickle from September to January, then floods from Feb to April before slowly trickling off again until after summer. Because of the coming deluge of staff applicants over the next couple of months, camp directors tend to “grab” as many applicants as they can. The problem is that working 50 or so files at time means you probably aren’t working any the way you’d like. And in today’s job market, you’ll probably lose more then you end up hiring.

We suggest that you prioritize your needs and start with those. CampStaff searches can zero in on staff. Stay on top of them. The biggest complaint from camp directors this hiring season is “there are tons of applicants but they don’t respond to my email.” EMAIL, not plural. Ironically, some of these same camp directors will also tell us, “my email inbox is so filled than unless you write me a couple of times, I might not respond.” Hmmm…

Adam Grant, former keynote speaker at Tri-State Camp Conference wrote a great piece in the NY Times about responding to email.

We recently published a blog post written by our friend’s at Jotform chock full of their best recommendations for getting your camp organized.

When using CampStaff.com or CampStaffNurses.com, use the organizational tabs to help you

As a camp using a campstaff.com or campstaffnurses.com account, you have access to two tidy columns on top of your screen. The first, ‘recent applications’ shows you a list of all the job seekers who sent you an email directly through the CampStaff portal. The second, “seekers contacted” shows you a list of all the seekers you sent an email to through the CampStaff portal. These lists highlight the staff you want to follow up with, as you had originally marked them as someone worth considering for your camp.