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. 

A Tip A Day To Get The Most Out of Your CampStaff Accounts

This week, we’ll be sending you a tip each day to help you make the most out of your CampStaff and CampStaffNurses accounts.

Here at CampStaff, we spend a lot of time talking to the camps that use our services. We want to share with you what works best for camps so that you may make the most out of our sites.

**These tips work for both CampStaff and CampStaffNurses, but for the purposes of the tips this week, I’ll just write “CampStaff” (it gets to be too much reading when I write CampStaff/CampStaffNurses….see what I mean?)

Screenshot 2019-02-26 10.37.18

We constantly analyze our data and the numbers don’t lie; the camps that are on CampStaff actively seeking staff daily (or almost daily) are the camps finding great staff year after year.  One of our most successful camps logs in almost daily to tweak their descriptions and to actively search for their job needs.

Remember, CampStaff/CampStaffNurses are two-way searchable databases. So, while staff can seek camps, they may also register and wait for you to find them. So, camps need to be pro-actively seeking out staff, too!  We’ve seen a shift over the past 5 years; while the numbers of seekers registering with us has remained constant, the number of emails that seekers send to camps has gone down. We know that this is a job seeker’s market and we know that job seekers are waiting for you to find them and contact them. Ten years ago we saw seekers reaching out more often to camps but we now see that camps are the ones reaching out more often to seekers.

If you’re not sure what you are supposed to be doing once you log on daily (or almost daily), here are some links to watch brief tutorials on utilizing search methods.

CampStaff SearchTutorials

Search Method 1
Search Method 2
Search Method 3
How to Save a Search

CampStaffNurses
Search Tutorials

Search Method 1
Search Method 2
Search Method 3
How to Save a Search

 

Turn Your Returning Staff into Your Top Recruiters

Photo Credit Camp Ocean Pines

When I first started hiring staff for camp back in the 90’s, the process was in some ways much simpler. The internet was relatively new. Our camp didn’t even have a website by first year and even CampStaff was still a few years away.

Recruiting staff meant running a 3 sentence classified ad in a school newspaper or in the old American Camping Association publications. I’d wait for the 800 number to ring or get a postcard in the mail asking for more information. We would mail a VHS tape specially made for staff recruiting along with an application and camp brochure. Then we would wait. By the time a completed application was back in our office, both sides were well invested in the hiring process. Rarely did someone receiving a job offer not accept or even more rare, break their commitment by not showing up. Ghosting meant something totally different in the 90’s!

Even so, when opening day of camp got near, any unfilled positions could quickly be staffed from the bullpen of waiting international counselors at CampAmerica or Bunac or the other international staffing agencies. No problem, camp would open fully staffed.

Fast forward to now and camp staffing has changed drastically. It is much easier for potential staff to apply to multiple camps and even to other industries, making the competition for top staff the stiffest its ever been. Throw in the past changes to J-1 rules that eliminated stand-by international staff (much less any future changes to the program) and the importance of getting new staff to commit early and follow through with those commitments is more vital to summer camp opening than ever. 

Break through the noise

The two of biggest challenges we hear from camp staffing directors today are that potential staff are harder to maintain contact with and seem less likely to honor their commitments once hired.

We recently posted about ideas camps could copy from big colleges on NCAA signing day to help firm up commitments.  Another thing we noticed, camps can easily imitate how head coaches utilized their staff to 

  1. Maintain contact with recruits throughout the process and 
  2. Use the relationships developed with those staff to improve the chances the recruit remained committed.

Camp staff recruits, just like athletic recruits, are bombarded by not only you and the camps you are competing with, but also everyday electronic life.  The background noise of college life is pretty loud. When as a staffing director, you are trying to juggle staff inquiries, incoming applications, targeted searches on CampStaff and maintaining personal contacts with new hires, it can be overwhelming and down right impossible.

You are the head coach here, to break through and make sure your message is heard, we suggest assigning your new staff recruits a returning staff point of contact.

Here’s the scenario, you’ve offered a contract or had one accepted on the spot. Now you need to make sure that person follows through with the hiring process and shows up at camp. A personal connection with your retaining staff is a tried and true recruiting method. We always assume that everyone is a potential staff member until they actual show top for staff training and become a staff member!

1. Match each situation individually. Camps have the unique opportunity with a diverse staff to make personal connections. Use that! Pick your recruiter regionally, by common interest, by specialty skills- anything that can make the connection personal. 

2. Provide a contact schedule. First, this holds your recruiters accountable. Second, it takes the pressure off (and avoids too much pressure) from over contact. Back in the days of Manila file folders for applicants, I kept track of every contact date on the front of the folder. This helped remind me to touch base so no one got lost in the hiring flurry that is May.

Give your recruiters a sample schedule:

a. Day 1 – email a quick intro to the potential staff member. Include your social media handles and encourage the recruit to check out and pics you posted from last summer. Schedule a time to connect via phone. Cc camp on first email.

b. After call, follow recruits social feeds.

c. 2 days after 1st phone call, text a short, “hey, its xxx. Just checking in to see if you have any questions from our call”

d. Drop a text, email or comment on a social media post every week.

3. Pay your recruiters

Money is always best. Swag is second. Either way, show that you value your returning staff’s time and effort. If you or your board is having trouble justifying the added cost, compare the cost of a last minute international hire for that position through an agency and the time delay getting that person into camp when someone you hired in February ghosts you opening day.

If you still need further convincing…The bonus for your staff training week is that every new staff member will already have a connection when they roll into camp. We all know that those personal connections are what get staff to return the following season.