3 Tips for Summer 2020 Camp Job Search

Camps are still hiring for summer 2020 but obviously things are different this year. Here are a few tips to help you find a great job, doing great things this summer.

Be prepared to drive

With COVID rules varying from state to state, and changing day by day. Many camps are reluctant or in the case of New Hampshire camps, not allowed to book flights for staff. This makes arriving by private vehicle a big plus when camps are hiring. Make sure you let camps know you have a car or someone to drive you when you first apply.

This may mean searching for camps a little closer to home but if you are still up for a long road trip, be sure to check AAA COVID-19 Travel Restrictions for up to date information on roads.

Find a day camp

If your sleep away camp is closed, day camps would love to have your experience this summer. In many states, day camps have been declared essential childcare. Bringing your sleep away resume back to a local camp can be great for the camps and for you.

Day camp experiences are very different for staff than sleep away. Aside from the obvious nights at home and weekends off, you may find yourself working with your former teachers and high school friends. This can be an amazing opportunity to reconnect and give back to your community. Give it a try!

Staff with multiple skills are HOT

With many camps forced to modify programming this summer – either because of shorter sessions, new types of programming (like family camps) or smaller camper populations required for distancing – single function specialist may be a rarity. Instead, camps are hiring staff with multiple talents and skill sets. This could be a fantastic opportunity to take a skill set you’d like to develop and gain real experience – maybe even enough skills to move into a new specialty area when staffs fill back out next year.

When applying to camps this summer list everything you can do at camp. Be honest with your abilities – for example, I play recreational tennis well enough to help beginners and I have a successful part-time cookie decorating business — then be prepared to go from cooking class to the courts!

Keep an eye on our social feeds for camps still hiring and be sure to check out CampStaffExpress for ASAP openings!

5 Tips for Negotiating a Last Minute Summer Camp Job

Photo Credit The Unpolished Barn

It’s the eleventh hour of the summer camp hiring cycle…job seekers are needed, sometimes desperately.  Once you’ve connected with your amazing camp job through CampStaff.com, what’s next? Here are our tips for negotiating the best compensation package possible.

Don’t focus on Salary.  Here’s a little bit of a harsh truth.  Salaries are basically standard at most camps.  Since you will be living and working with your coworkers everyday, smart camp directors avoid salary disparity. Camp is not like a “regular” job. You eat, sleep and work 24/7 with your camp colleagues. Staff will discuss salaries and morale can suffer. Having huge pay disparity like most industries we read about every day, simply will not work in a camp setting… nor should it!  Come to think of it, summer camp may be the one US industry where men and women ALWAYS start on equal pay footing.

So if you can’t ask for a simple salary increase, what are some options?

Travel allowance. Camps have lots of leeway in offering travel compensation. If you are flying by air, this is a no brainer. Last minute flights cost more. However, if you are driving to camp, gas is the same as if you’ve been planning since March. Ask for an increase over the standard gas allowance. Remind the director that having a car at camp is a benefit to camp staff morale and you’ll be happy to include fellow staff on your day off and night out trips. More $ in your pocket and happy staff – Win/Win.

Flexible dates. If you have a wedding or job interview or anything else pre-planned for the summer, be sure to include those in the negotiations. If you play your cards right, you can get these days off with pay in addition to your standard time off. Just ask up front. Camp can work around being short staffed for a few days. Camps already operate when staff are ill – letting the camp in advance when you’ll be taking “sick days” allows for smooth planning. Win/Win

New equipment. If you are a camp specialist – ie, someone teaching an activity – you can work in camp purchased “tools of the trade”. Would a new golf bag help when you interact on the golf course? How about a new tennis racket? Anything that legitimately helps you improve your job performance and the experience of the campers can be asked for. Win/Win

Skills or training. Many camps send staff to update certifications or new skills courses before camp opens. If a lifeguard certification could be beneficial to you (even if you are hired to teach softball!) ask to be included. The more staff with cross training, the better for the camp. For you it’s a few hundred dollars of training you don’t have to come out of pocket for. If your new skills are in-line with your actual camp job, again this is a no brainer for the camp. Win/Win

Charitable contributions. We once had a coach from a low income school district ask, in lieu of a raise one year, to be able to take any sports balls we were “retiring” for his students. We were directing a high end sports camps and basically bought all new balls each summer. Not only did we give him the pick of the balls – but we also gave him the raise. That’s the kind of staff we wanted to keep! Another staff member we hired as a senior team member came from a non-profit camp background. She arranged for our unclaimed lost and found clothing to be sent to her old camp at the end of the summer. Camps are happy to get involved in charitable work. It may not mean more money in your pocket, but that’s not always what’s most important, now is it? JUST A PLAIN OLD WIN ALL AROUND!!!

Bottom line is you have to ASK if you want things to happen. You won’t know until you try. If you are hesitant to negotiate, just remember that the camp has the most to gain by hiring you. Summer camps can’t run without out camp staff!

June is the BEST time to land a camp job

Photo Credit Lourdes Camp, NY

Camps are cranking up for the summer season. Southern camps are in session with the rest of the country soon to follow. A few things happen to camp staffing directors this time of year…and you can use these to your advantage in finding a job!

As camp directors, the three main hurdles that cost us staff and forced us into high speed hiring mode every spring were…

GRADES. Face it, sometimes summer school sessions are necessary.  Spring grades are released and maybe one or two aren’t what you’d expected. Students paying their own way, and those whose parents have set limits find out that a summer class is needed and have to drop out out the job commitment and drop back in to class!

ANOTHER JOB. Ok, we think…no, we KNOW summer camp is the greatest job you can have with the most lifelong benefits. However, as far as pay goes, the room & board and benefits sometimes are greater than the actual cash compensation. This isn’t helpful when unexpected  things happen to student and a cash heavy, live at home job is necessary. We get it.

VISA FALLS THROUGH. Many camps hire a large number of international staff through the J-1 visa program. Sometimes visas fall through at the last minute (delays at embassies or mixed up paperwork) and staff can’t travel to the US. And many times the sponsoring agency doesn’t have a ready, prequalified replacement do to government policies.

So what does that mean to anyone still looking for summer camp job?

The short answer means that if you take a few minutes to update your CampStaff profile to show camp directors that you are still available and very interested…you will get JOB OFFERS TODAY!

Camp directors are updating their job needs daily. You should be checking!

BONUS TIP: If there was a camp you were really interested in during the year but they didn’t have an opening for you, REACH OUT to the camp director…things may have changed. Resend your campstaff profile and show you REALLY want to work there!

DOUBLE BONUS TIP: Let camps know your availability dates, some split season jobs may be open. Maybe a half summer in the White Mountains, followed by a half summer on the California coast is what you want?!?

It’s not too late to find a great summer camp job. Pass this along to any friends who may be interested.

Have Your Best Summer NOW!

Photo Credit Camp Starlight, PA

Look, there are many great resources on how summer camp builds 21st century job skills  and how summer camp jobs are great on resumes and if that’s what you are looking for then you are already way ahead of the game and have probably found the ideal summer camp job.  For the rest of you – the ones living in the NOW – this blog post is for you!

Spend a summer doing the things you love NOW, and get paid to to do them

  • Do your favorite sport, activity, hobby, etc.
  • Travel and explore new areas
  • Have new experiences with new people

The best part is that this won’t end at the close of summer!

1. Your favorite sports, activities, hobbies

Is your passion lacrosse?  Is it woodworking? Canoeing? Art? Climbing? These are the things you are into now. Some of them (like lax) will probably come to an end soon or at least, get seriously downgraded when you hit the “real world” job market. So, why not do them NOW? 

In the very near future (like as soon as you leave college), it will either be hard to get together enough people and gear to play large team sports or start getting pricey to pursue your favorite hobbies. Camps not only provide everything you need to do the activities you love now, but they will also PAY you top do them!

2. Travel

One of the most underrated reasons to spend a summer working at camp is travel. Sure, you understand the obvious – camps are scattered across the whole country so you can pick which area you’d like to see and which attractions you want to be near enough to visit on days off and camp sponsored trips.

But, did you ever consider who else has traveled to work with you at camp? A typical camp staff of 100-200 staff will usually represent a few dozen US states, a hand full of Canadian provinces and at least half a dozen countries.  Think about it…all of these staff did something you did, traveled to a new area for a summer job. NOW, think about all the different places they are from and all the new people to visit there. Your one summer travel destination has grown into an exponential number of lifetime places to travel!

3. New experiences

Have you been itching to try sailing? How about really wanting to learn to throw a pot on a potter’s wheel? If there is something you’ve been wanting to experience and your summer camp offers it then try it NOW! Staff recreation (aka morale boosters) is a big part of most camp’s philosophies and giving staff a chance to try new experiences is a big part of that.

So how many different experiences do summer camps offer? This is a little bit of a trick question. Sure camps will list a plethora of activities on their website but this is really just a starting point for the great summer camps. Those camps will also incorporate the skills and interests of incoming staff into each summer’s program – expanding the program experiences even more! 

See CampStaff, CampStaffNurses and CampStaffExpress for the latest summer camp job openings.

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.

 

 

 

5 Shoes You’ll Want at Summer Camp

At camp, we are on our feet literally all day; often on rugged and uneven terrains, and in a variety of weather conditions. Help your staff prepare for your terrain by recommending the right foot wear for them. When counselors arrive at camp unprepared, it starts the job off on the wrong foot (pun intended!).

At a risk of sounding like a mom (which, I am a mom, by the way), proper foot care is essential at camp. Ending up in the health center with blisters, cuts, and ingrown toenails is a time drain. Help your staff out by letting them know what shoes to pack! Here’s our list. 

 

Screenshot 2019-05-06 10.20.17
Pack sneakers that will keep your feet happy all summer!

Sturdy sneakers. We are talking about running or walking sneakers with tie laces and solid soles. Not Keds, not Toms, but good old sneakers. You may call them tennis shoes if you live in the southern US. Take care of your feet and wear with these dry socks. It’s like a little piece of heaven for your feet.


 

Screenshot 2019-05-06 10.58.44
Crocs. $23 on amazon.com

Water Shoes/Flip Flops. Your camp will probably offer a place to swim and you’ll need appropriate foot gear to go with your bathing suit.  Flip flops are a great choice, as are Crocs, or water shoes. Something easy to slip on and off that will protect your foot while walking though camp. 


 

Screenshot 2019-05-06 10.51.52
Walmart – $20

Rain Boots. yes, really. Just like you wore when you were 5. Staff may see this item on the list and decide against it. However, when it rains at camp, you still need to go outside and often it is muddy. Having a pair of easy to slip on rain boots will make you an unstoppable counselor this summer at camp. 

.


 

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need cleats for your job?

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or hiking boots ?

 

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or maybe something for the art studio?

Shoes for your specialty, if needed. If you will be hiking this summer, pack your hiking boots and be sure to break them in now! Or, if you need cleats for your job, be sure they are broken in this spring as well. Working in the art studio, be sure your sturdy sneakers are okay to take a hit  from some paint.

 

 


 

Screenshot 2019-05-06 10.48.43
cute shoes for leaving camp. These pretty white shoes will not stay white if you wear them while at camp!

Going-out-of-camp shoes. You’ll get out of camp on days and nights off, so you’ll want to put something on your feet that you don’t wear every day while at camp. Trust me; leaving camp shoes are something different than the sturdy every day shoes you wear while at camp. Depending on where you plan to go on your days off, you may want to pack sandals, slip ons, or something rugged if your day off consists of rock climbing and hiking.


 

Screenshot 2019-05-06 10.38.47
Walmart. $10

 

Slippers (totally optional). When you get back to your cabin at the end of the day or at rest hour, having a pair of slippers to put on your feet is like a small massage for feet that have been running on fields all day, or hiking up mountains, or swimming in lakes. Reward your feet at the end of the day by slipping into your slippers. Bonus camp tip: wearing slippers in your cabin means that when you get into your bed at night, you don’t bring in all the miscellaneous pebbles that landed on you cabin floor that day. DOUBLE BONUS TIP FOR BUNK COUNSELORS – having the bunk “shoe free” keeps the floor MUCH cleaner with 8-10 campers tramping in and out all day.  Keep your slippers by the front door!


 

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Bed, Bath, and Beyond. $10.

And, if you really want to be good to you feet, rub some peppermint foot lotion on at the end of the day once you are in bed. After two months of camp terrain, your feet will be happy your paid some attention to them every night!

 

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!