Training for Satellite and Offsite Staff - Camp Code #45

Teaching trip and expedition leaders to carry on traditions and build networks of support

If your camp runs programming with staff that are off-site for most of the season, this podcast is for you! Beth and Ruby discuss best practices for carrying on camp traditions, setting these staffers up for success, and providing support and training even if you are on different sides of the continent.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Given that it is the beginning of June when this podcast is being released and most listeners are diving into the crazy season, the Camp Code team wants to remind you of the importance of self-care. If the somewhat modified words of RuPaul "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an Amen?" Remember that the extra hour of sleep now will benefit you exponentially towards the middle and end of the season. That project can wait! Take care of yourself and teach your staff strategies for doing so as well.


Hey! Maybe you are asking "Yo, Camp Code Team - what's up with only putting out eight episodes this season?" We were fortunate to be able to go to present at several camp conferences this spring in person, together, and were also fortunate to get to meet many many listeners. This meant that time to record podcasts was a bit slimmer than in previous years because we were prepping for awesome in-person sessions. A big thanks to every person who came to any of our workshops and to all the folks who gave a quick shout out when you saw any of us walking by. It is so cool to connect with our listeners and we are looking forward to another kicking season when we return in the fall. Have a most wonderful summer and thanks for the listening friends.

P.S. Let us know what topics you want to hear about next season by tweeting using the hashtag #CampCode.

Creating an Inclusive Camp Community - Camp Code #44

Training staff to spread the message that everyone belongs

In a world where exclusion can quickly become a theme, camp professionals are remarkably good at creating a safe space where campers and staff can feel empowered to find themselves and be themselves. I think we can all agree that the world would be a different place if every child went to camp and learned how to co-exist with the community around them. Listed below are some resources mentioned during the podcast for leading sessions to promote an inclusive community.

University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

Best Practice for Leadership Training

This episode's best practice comes not as a practice, rather more of a quote. Thanks to Maggie Howe from Gwynn Valley, she shared the insight that "The stronger an organization's culture is, the more exclusive they may become." Consider this idea as you integrate gaining buy-in from staff and campers and celebrating diversity. Camp can change the world and being welcoming to all is a place where we can really raise the bar.

Training Employees Who Know More Than You - Camp Code #43

How do you train employees with areas of expertise that are your areas of weakness?

Whether you are new director at an established camp or are simply training staff in program areas that aren't in your repertoire, sometimes we have to train staff who know more about some subject areas than we do. Joining the Camp Code hosts today is Chantal "Match" Jackson to share some ideas for how to create an engaging training even when you don't know it all (even if your staff think they do!)


Best Practice for Leadership Training

Ask your staff to create a list of things or skills they can each teach. Be creative in how you display these to the rest of the staff. Make sure everyone’s names go beside “What they can teach.” Have them put those aside and then ask staff to write in their journals a list of things they want to learn. When they are all done, put them in small groups to share what they can teach and what they want to learn. After some time to share, gather the group back together and discuss what talents and skills have been exhibited and make a plan for how to continue fostering a learning environment for the staff throughout the summer.

12 New Ideas for Staff Training - Camp Code #42

More Leadership and Orientation Ideas for the Best Training Ever

Thought you had heard all that the Camp Code hosts have to offer? No way! There's always new ideas flowing out of this podcast! Check out this week's episode to hear twelve brilliant brand new ideas for staff training that you can plug into staff training this year in this quickfire style episode.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Encourage employees to have a personal or creative project for the benefit of the organization to work on during some portion of their work hours. This will allow employees to think critically about what they can create for the organization and offers opportunities for sharing and buy-in among your team.

Come say hi!

Also, the Camp Code team will be on the camp conference circuit and presenting this season so check them out at ACA National, Tristate, or Midstates! If you are listener, please come find Gab, Ruby, or Beth and tell us what you want to hear in future episodes. And don't forget to pay it forward and share the podcast with new #camppros you meet!



Essential Training for a New Director - Camp Code #41

Setting New Employees Up for Success

While we spend a lot of time planning staff training for our summer staff, it is not uncommon to expect new year-round directors to jump in without providing them the tools for success. Beth, Gab, and Ruby are joined by special guest, Travis Allison for this special episode of Camp Code.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

As a new director, build your support system and include at least one of each of the following: a person who is always willing to listen, a person who is objective and can tell it like it is, and a person who has been working in camping who can serve as a mentor.


Saying Goodbye To Long-Time Staff Members - Camp Code #40

"You have learned everything I have to teach."

If you work in camp long enough, you will either watch a long-time staff member (director, year-round staff member, long-time seasonal staff member) leave or you, yourself, will opt for something different from #campdirectorlife. While camp directors tend to be the types to be inclined to keep this kind of news on the extreme DL, it is imperative to the health of your camp community that you create space and time for campers, their families, and staff to say goodbye.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Write all of your teambuilding and group games on individual notecards (1 game per card). Divide them by type (Examples: icebreaker, active, large group, easy initiative, fixed elements). Grab an index card box and organize all of your games in the box with the appropriate labels. When it comes time to design a program, just pull out the cards you need for the day. You may want to number them too so it's easy to get them back in place! (HT to Travis for this best practice!)

Back On Track summer debrief framework

Staff Applications Are Part Of Your Training - Camp Code #39

Best Practices For Your Employment Application

Puzzled by why you can't seem to find the right staff each summer? Perhaps it is because of the wording, structure, and requirements of your staff application. Gab, Beth, and Ruby discuss the must-dos (and a few must-don'ts) to help you start your staff training before your people are even hired.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Is there a way to add a creative element to your staff application so folks with a wide variety of talents can exhibit their strengths? Have you thought about sharing your expectations for a job at your program via video, podcast, or original song? Using visual tools and letting applicants hear from you and other people really sets the tone for community building and gets the expectations across in your tone.

Hey check it out - Camp Widjiwagan in Nashville, TN is already doing that!
Green River Preserve's Essential Functions for a Staff Member

Remember to subscribe so you don't miss an episode and please leave us a rating and review in iTunes. A big thanks to CAcamper for leaving us a review!

Cleaning Up After the "Perfect Storm" Summer - Camp Code #38

Training for Leading When You Think "What Else Could Go Wrong?"

As camp people, we sometimes find ourselves looking around thinking "Universe, what else could you possible throw at me?" and sometimes that all happens before 9 AM. Some summers are just like that and often it is due to circumstances totally out of your control. This episode will talk about how to heal and recover from the "perfect storm" summer and how to lead your team when it feels like very little went right.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Build a relationship with a local mediation organization. Face it, in camping, we are in the relationship business and sometimes an objective ear and voice can be the key to working through conflicts. Often these organizations may be able to provide training for your year-round and seasonal staff as well.


Back on Track

The Mediation Center (Western North Carolina) (Find a Mediator near you)

Last Minute Staff Training Checklist - Camp Code #37

Helping You With Last Minute Details for Your Leadership Training

Season 3 of Camp Code wraps up with THE checklist to ensure you are ready for staff training this summer. Invest some time in to making sure all of these things are done to ensure a smooth training and thus a smooth summer for all.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

This week's tip comes from Skyline Camp and Retreat Center's Director Matt Henry. Divide staff training in half. Do five days at the beginning of the summer and then do five more in the middle of the summer to dedicate to retraining staff. Think about how much fatigue, burnout, and drama that could be dealt with with a few days to refocus the staff back on the mission. If you can't do a full five, think about in scheduling your session dates next year if there is a way to carve out some time to do staff development midway through the season.


Don't Do That! 9 Training Goofs We Don't Want You To Repeat - Camp Code #36

The Best Staff Training Don't Dos from Directors Who Have Done Them

It's crunch time for preparing staff training for the summer and there are some common pitfalls that every director falls into when designing and implementing orientation for the summer. Beth, Gab, and Ruby share some of their biggest lessons learned over the years and hope that you will work smarter, not harder this summer. 

Best Practices For Leadership Training

Have rest hour every day during staff training. This gives your staff a time to recoup, reflect, and recharge each day. It sets up a great routine for the summer as well as helps staff practice using their down time wisely. 

Engaging Return Staff During Training - Camp Code Episode #35

Keeping Your Return Staff's Attention When They Think They Know It All


"Coming back for your second, or third, or 85th season at camp can be a glorious thing. You understand the weird rituals and chanting that seem to spontaneously erupt throughout the day and when somebody whispers Color War, you understand exactly what is about to happen. But man, training is such a drag because it is all the same stuff all over again. Why do I have to attend training when I've seen it all before?" If your return staff seem to take this attitude, then this podcast is a definite must listen for you.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Hold a Program Area Fair during staff training. Activity Leaders staff a booth about their activity. This gives Program Staff an opportunity to share some of the ideas about what they will be doing in the activity for that summer. Play a game, display a craft, or decorate your booth in the best way possible to represent your game. The rest of the staff can mosey from booth to booth carnival style and learn more about the various program areas around camp. This helps staff to understand what will happen at that activity all summer and also allows Activity Leaders to take ownership and show off their talents and specialty area for the summer. 


Summer Flings and Healthy Partnerships: Training for Relationships at Camp - Camp Code #34

Training Staff How to Treat One Another

Ah...the birds and the bees and the smell of hormones at camp in the summertime. Whether in a single gender or co-ed environment, the reality is people fall in love at camp. And some people think they fall in love at camp. It makes sense as folks are living and working closely together and acting genuinely and passionately day in and day out. Many of your staff likely have common values in life and when they find each other at camp, it can be a beautiful thing. Or it can be disruptive and fueled by drama. Today's podcast focuses on how to train your staff on what it means to have a relationship at camp and some best practices that Beth, Gab, and Ruby have found can lead to a drama-free summer.


Best Practice for Leadership Training

Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note to provide praise and establish that you acknowledge the impactful work another person is doing. Whether it is an employee, a supervisor, a conference presenter, or a random person you encounter in life, everyone can appreciate a small token of acknowledgement from another person.

Is This How It Looks To Get Fired? - Camp Code #33

Training Camp Staff On Being Let Go

By talking about what it looks like to get fired from camp, you may find that your staff make better decisions, which, in turn, actually reduces the likelihood of you having to fire staff as often. Gab, Beth, and Ruby discuss how they train their staff about the termination process, what worked and what didn't, and some best practices for letting someone go at camp be as drama free and mission-focused as possible.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Gather your male and female staff members separately and discuss with each of them how they want to treat the other gender. Bring the groups back together and have the groups share with one another their commitment to how people should be treated at camp.



Teaching Your Staff to Sell Camp - Camp Code #32

Why your seasonal staff need sales training and why it is worth your time

Your summer staff are trained on your mission and are bought in to the why of camp. Who better than your staff to help you market camp than those who really know it inside and out? Tune in to today's podcast to learn how to teach your staff some basic sales strategies that will impact your bottom line.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Track which of your cabin staff from the previous summer have the most campers returning this summer. Give public praise to these staff members (whether they are returning or not) during staff orientation this summer and challenge your summer staff to be one of those counselors that managed to provide such an incredible experience for their campers, that they all HAD to come back to camp. Additionally, tell your staff the retention rate from the previous summer and challenge them to go above and beyond that number.

10 Things Your Staff Don't Want To Hear But You Need To Tell Them Anyway - Camp Code #31

Training for Your Camp Staff That They Need

Let's face it. As the camp director, sometimes you have to tell your staff things they don't want to hear. Often these are the tidbits and pieces of life advice that it will take time for the staff to really appreciate. Go on! Speak up! Tell your thoughts because your staff need to hear it to make camp be the best it can be. Beth, Gab, and Ruby share their "must-tells" during this episode of Camp Code. 

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Remember to thank your year-round team throughout the year. Include some staff appreciation dollars in your budget to show appreciation for your full time staff as the rad camp professionals that they are! Consider gifting them a subscription to Go Camp Pro, the year-round camp conference. 

Managing Up: Training Your Bosses and Board - Camp Code #30

Training for How To Get What You Need From Those Above You

When hiring seasonal staff, directors look for applicants that are trainable. However, you inherit your boss/board/Executive Director/CEO when you accept a job. Ever wish you could conduct staff training specifically for your higher-ups so they will do things the way you want to do them? In this episode, learn what it takes to get those above you on the organizational chart on board with your ideas. Big shout out to Rosanne Badowski for the term Managing Up. You can check out her book on Amazon right now.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Today's best practice comes from our friends Scott Arizala and Dr. Chris Thurber and their unofficially titled "Stump the Hunks" EPIC session at ACA National in New Orleans in 2015. When asked how to get the boss to do what you need them to do, they suggested this tactic. Have your boss happen to accompany you to witness whatever challenge/inefficiency/problem that you are hoping to address. Ask "Have you noticed how when it rains, our staff get particularly grumpy while waiting in the rain with the kids to go into lunch? Do you have any ideas for how we could make this better?" or for the bold ones of you out there, instead state the following as a follow up to your Have You Noticed question, "I've noticed this as well and I wonder if we gave each cabin a large umbrella to decorate to use on rainy days if they would be more excited about rainy days?" By simply asking "Have you noticed...", you bring the boss into the discussion and make them a part of the problem solving, even if they don't do any of the problem solving.


Recovering When Things Go Really Wrong - Camp Code #29

Training Staff for What to Do Next When the Unthinkable Happens

In episode #28 we talked about when the literal stuff hits the fan. This episode addresses some of those worst case scenario moments and how camp directors can best recover and move forward with their staff members. From the tough conversations to doing what is right for camp to some of our worst nightmares as directors, Beth, Gab, and Ruby share some of their best tips for handling circumstances no one wants to talk about and training your staff to minimize liability exposures in their jobs.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Following a bad or hard situation, show staff members how to align their focus with the solution, not the problem. Teach staff that professionals focus on where the organization is headed from here, rather than reveling in the drama or sadness of the crisis itself. Give staff time to feel and be human and process the experience. Provide external resources to help with that processing. Then set your sights forward and lead them towards healing. At a time of crisis, staff members are looking to their leaders for guidance for how to react, process, move forward, and heal.


It's Everywhere and You Have to Clean It Up - Camp Code #28

Training for Camp Staff About Bodily Function Regularity and Clean Up a.k.a. The Poop Episode

It's the topic nobody really wants to talk about but at camp it always comes up. Going to the bathroom can make or break a child's day at camp, especially if they have any anxiety about using new and different bathrooms, being heard while they are going, or missing out on cool activities because their bowels are rumbling. Camp staff have to quickly establish a level of comfort with children to address their ins and outs without being crude while maintaining the health and safety of the child. This episode addresses some of the best ways to train your staff on creating an environment of openness, comfort, and regularity.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Teach staff that all children and staff are coming with different levels of comfort for talking about bodily functions. Some may be very comfortable sharing every detail while others are mortified at the thought of others knowing that they used the restroom. To put everybody on the same playing field, create your own poop vocabulary. Saying, "I have to go to the bathroom" may be embarrassing for some children so if you give them language for how you talk about pee and poo at camp, it suddenly becomes a little less scary and a little more ordinary to talk about. At Ruby's camp, campers are told that going to the bathroom in the woods is called "taking a seefar" because you want to go as far away as you can see before doing your business. It's amazing how a little bit of language leads to a lot of empowerment for children and many more successful seefars in the woods!



Training for Camp Directors for Detoxing from Summer - Camp Code #27

This business of camp is hard. You must rest.

Hooray! The off-season is upon us! The campers have gone home and your staff are returning to their mundane lives. It is time to start all over again. But wait! It is critical for directors to understand that there is a certain "detox" period from camp every year. Everybody experiences this re-programming a little differently and the Camp Code team returns for the podcast's third season to share tips as well as their challenges with adjusting back to off-season camp director life.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

At the end of the summer, consider yourself an athlete in recovery. Olympians wouldn't be asked to jump right back in the pool and compete at his highest level immediately after the Olympics have concluded. You need time to recharge and reflect and get away. At your next annual review, ask your supervisors for the time you need at the end of the summer and for these days to not count as your vacation days. Consider asking to work only half days the week after camp. Perhaps your only responsibility for that week is keep up with email. Or, perhaps you will turn on your vacation reply and have a staycation. Make a list now for what you need at the end of next summer and ask for it.

*What happened to episode 26? Good eye! Keep looking. It'll turn up eventually.