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!

 

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.