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. 

 

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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.


 

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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. 


 

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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.

 

 


 

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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.


 

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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!

 

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!

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Camp Nurse

photo credit Iroquois Springs Camp

Let us help you imagine what a typical day as a camp nurse may be like.

You wake up to the sound of birds outside your window and fresh air on your face. You hear the distant giggle of children as they take an early morning swim in the gorgeous lake. In fact, you can see them right out your window – check out that gorgeous lake view with the mountains in the background.

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photo credit IHC

Off to the dining hall for a bite to eat. That’s right; no cooking or kitchen clean up for you this summer! Camps now offer healthy and great tasting options in the dining hall, and many offer a buffet bar to suit the tastes of all campers and staff. After visiting with new camp friends and enjoying your morning coffee, you check in at the heath center for your daily shift.

The day begins with medication dispersal to any campers and staff who take daily medications or who are currently taking antibiotics. Gone are the days when nurses had to single-handedly manage all the campers’ medications bottle by bottle. Many camps now use highly organized outside companies to pre-package all the campers daily medications to keep the health center running smoothly and efficiently.

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photo credit Camp Towanda

Next duty comes sick call, where you help out the doctor on duty to assess any strep throats, rashes, stomach aches, etc. Many camps keep a doctor on staff and all camps accredited by the American Camp Association operate under standing orders compliant with their state. If you are at a camp without a doctor on duty, you or another nurse are assessing the campers’ illnesses.

staff looking for a job
photo credit Camp Towanda

The health center is a busy place! In between chatting with the campers who come in for assistance, you may find yourself answering the phone or charting. You may have to schedule a doctor’s visit (perhaps an x-ray or something else that cannot usually be handled on camp grounds), or even be the one to drive the camper to the doctor out of camp.

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Camp KenMont KenWood

As the day continues, you look at the daily schedule and see you have the afternoon off. What a great time to take advantage of the facilities at camp. You schedule a time to climb on the rock wall and you make it to the top. Congratulations! To cool off, you take out a kayak and enjoy the serenity of the water. You may even see your own children out on the water (yes, most camps allow nurses to bring their own children as campers for free or at steeply reduced rates – be sure to ask).

 

 

 

 

After dinner (again, in the dining hall. Still no cooking or washing dishes for you this summer! and still awesome and tasty options), you head back to the heath center ready for the second part of your daily shift. You come back re-energized and ready to work.  Campers stop by if they take bed-time meds. This is also the time to give injections like growth hormone shots and to follow up with campers on health issues they had during the day. Again you find yourself charting, assisting, and assessing. You are part of a team; some camps have two nurses and some have as many as nine or ten, depending on the population size of the camp.

Every camp will have its varying degree of nurse responsibilities and scheduling.  However, every camp is looking for a dynamic nurse who can multi-task and be a positive role models for its campers.  Think about your skill set. Are you a team player? Do you enjoy new adventures? Do you like working with kids? Are you looking to learn at your summer job? If yes, then a camp nurse job may be in your near future!

Your next step is to find that summer camp job! Join us for FREE at CampStaffNurses.com to find hundreds of summer camp jobs across the country.  With one free, simple application, you can apply to dozens of summer camps and summer camps can search for you!

Prefer to listen to what it’s like to be a camp nurse? Here’s a great interview podcast with a veteran camp nurse explaining the values of working at summer camp.

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.

Remember To Utilize Direct Emails on Campstaff and CampStaffNurses

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week of tips from CampStaff. For a full refresher on all 5 tips, start here with our first tip. 

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On both CampStaff and CampStaffNurses, you may log into your account as many times as you want, you may change your descriptions as often as you like, you may change your logo and photos as often as you like. This is all included in the cost of your membership.

The only service that we currently offer that is an additional fee and is optional is a direct email.
When time is short and you really need to fill a position, we’ve got the solution.  For only $50, you can send a targeted email to every job seeker meeting your criteria.  For instance, you are in need of several male cabin counselors, over 18 years old and who do not require a J-1 visa.  With a few clicks you can announce your jobs to every CampStaff applicant fitting that criteria.  It’s that easy and it’s there if you need it. Here’s a brief tutorial on sending a direct email.

Keep this tool in your back pocket in case you need it!

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Reach Out to Potential Staff More Than Once

As we’ve done every day this week, we are providing our members of CampStaff/CampStaff Nurses with tips on how to best make use of our websites. Thousands of staff come through CampStaff/CampStaffNurses every year and we want to be sure you are doing everything you can to hire as many possible staff from this one source.

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We are all bombarded with emails every day; the majority of which don’t get opened. So if you only send one email to a staff member, chances are that they will not respond. Now, while we don’t want you to overload the amount of emails you are sending, you can get creative in how you are reaching potential staff. If staff provide you with other forms of contact, feel free to contact them through these methods. These include texting and using their social media to reach them. What has worked out really well for many camps is to first send an email and then follow up with a text letting them know to check their email as you just sent them a message. Be exciting and descriptive in that message so they will want to open up their email from you!

Give the subject of your message a direction such as “open this message to find your summer internship”. If you give a direction to the recipient, you are increasing their chances of following the direction rather than hitting ‘delete’.
We wrote a blog post on when to best reach college aged students titled My 5 Hypothesis after Spending Time on a College Campus. The post includes not only days of the week but times that work best, too. It’s all based on numbers; the days and times we see people on CampStaff most looking for jobs. (hint; don’t expect too much response on Fridays and Saturdays from college aged kids. You are better off waiting until the beginning of a new week. However, if you are seeking a nurse on CampStaffNurses, the weekends are great times to reach out!).

Reach Out to Potential Staff With a Warm and Personalized Message

photo credit Ocean Pines Camp

Happy hump day presented by the tip of the day from CampStaff and CampStaffNurses!

Hopefully by now you’ve noticed that we are sending you a message every day this week to help you master your CampStaff account in order to hire the best possible summer camp staff.

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Before you reach out to a potential staff member on CampStaff, feel free to do a little research on any information that a potential staff member opted to share with you. For example, you may want to check out a job seeker’s social media pages if they list them. Or, if you have any connections to make with them about where they go to school, where they live, hobbies they have, etc., mention this in your first contact with them.

The best way for the potential staff member to get a sense of who you are and the type of camp you hire for is through the customized email feature we have on our sites.  So, when you find a staff person you like on CampStaff and click on “contact this job seeker” an email is sent to the person from you. You can customize this email so it has your tone, your words, and your message. Here’s a brief tutorial showing you exactly how to personalize this message so every time you click on the “contact this job seeker” button you know the staff member is receiving a message directly from you. Feel free to add links and phone numbers in that email message to give the potential staff person as many options as possible to contact your camp!