Training Staff to be Decision-Makers - Camp Code #55

Help staff make up their minds and make good choices


More and more directors are saying they are finding their staff less and less willing to make decisions. In a world where there are constantly more options available to us, to make a decision can be downright paralyzing. Listen in as Gabz, Ruby, and Beth discuss their best ideas for helping to empower and educator your staff on being smart decision makers at camp.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Data - Debate - Decide framework for decision making. First, a group must gather data before making a decision and that process may be quite simple or very involved. Next, once the relevant data is on the table, take time to debate the issue at hand using data-based arguments. Finally, take the step to make a decision. The decision may be that more data is needed! Regardless, having this framework can be helpful when discussing issues that are multi-faceted that lead to roundabout conversations where you are covering the same info again and again. By being able to identify what stage you are in, the 3-Ds can help you understand what you need to move forward.

HT to Les McKeown at for this concept that Ruby really really likes.

Women in Camp Summit Crossver Episode with Rec Heads and Camp Nerds - Bonus Episode

Gabz, Beth, and Ruby have spent the last several months working with Colette and Kim from ACA Illinois to put together the first annual Women in Camp Summit. Patti Sampson of Patchwork Marketplace teamed up with the Camp Code co-hosts to do a crossover episode of the podcast to talk about this exciting event.

Check out the Rec Heads and Camp Nerds podcast here and learn more about the cool work Patti is doing at Patchwork Marketplace and how you can get involved! Also, if you aren’t following Patti on Instagram, she is a boss at Insta stories. Check out how to do it well!

The deadline to register for the Women in Camp Summit is October 1, 2018. Reserve your spot today!

Women in Camp Summit

November 7-9, 2018

Chicago area - St Charles, IL - Pheasant Run Resort

$300 (some meals included)

Can’t make it to the Summit but want to help a sister out?

Designing Training for Volunteers - Camp Code #52


Leadership training is important for everyone at camp

Many camps have some portion of their staff comprised of volunteers. Be it your nurse for the week who is also a camper parent and trading their work for their child's camp tuition or a community member who simply loves to give back to camp, it is important that these folks get trained too.

If your camp is staffed entirely by volunteers, a complete staff training is still necessary; however there are additional considerations for executing that training, especially when volunteers are coming and going throughout the summer. In this episode, Gabz, Beth, and Ruby discuss some of their recommendations for training volunteers.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Consider implementing a recognition program for volunteers that highlights the amount of time (in whatever increment makes sense for your camp) that a person has dedicated time to camp. Bonus points for it being a wearable that can be worn at and outside of camp. By having this visual recognition, other in the community become aware that it is, not only an option to come give time to camp, but also that it is a celebrated and valued.

Helping Staff Know If Their Gifts are Best Used at Camp or Elsewhere - Camp Code #51

Training staff for when it is time to move on

Every camp director has had that staff member who needs to move on from camp but having the conversation can be difficult. Tune in to hear Beth, Gabz, and Ruby share their best tips for having those conversations now and how to build this idea of "growing elsewhere" into your camp culture so anyone in your community understands that it may be in everyone's best interest to move on. 

Best Practice for Leadership Training

After a session during training and the possibility of moving on, have staff write you a short letter on their own. Get each person to write to you, the camp director, and to fill in the blanks.

Dear [Camp Director]

If I am ever exhibiting these behaviors:_______________________________please sit down and have the talk with me. 

I'll be scared to leave camp and try something new, but if you say these things to me,_______________________________, it would be helpful. 

I know you are always thinking of the best interests of camp and of me and I also know that I will always have a place here and this will always be my home. And here are ways I'd like to have this conversation:

(Add your own ending/sign off)

Then, partner staff up and have them read their letters out loud. Be sure to tell them that you will be doing this as part of the activity so staff don't feel like they have to share things that are to deeply personal.

12 More Quickfire Videos for Staff Training - Camp Code #50

Videos That Will Make an Impact During Your Staff Training

Video continues to be a powerful resource in this day and age. Beth, Gab, and Ruby discuss 12 more of their favorites that can be incorporated into staff training this year.


Gabz Videos

Beth’s Videos

Ruby's Videos

On the day of this 50th episode, Gab, Beth, and Ruby want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our listeners for tuning in, sharing ideas, and continuing to lead extraordinary staff orientations each summer. Thank you for making the camping industry great. Here's to 50 more!

Consent at Camp - Camp Code #49

Teaching campers and staff about consent in a vitally important way

Though recent headlines have brought this concept to the forefront, this has been a conversation that has been ongoing. This is not a fad conversation and right now, there is an opportunity for youthe development professionals to dive deep and make influence real change in the world. It is critically important that the concept of consent is taught at camp to both campers and staff this summer and from now on. #Wehavetobebetter and bring the conversation forward. The industry of camp has a role and responsibility to reset the narrative of the disrespect and disconnection that leads to allegations and assault.

Teaching campers about consent within the framework of empowering campers to take ownership of giving consent over their own bodies, not only in sexual situations, but in the broader context of everyday life.

Best Practice in Leadership Training

Consent is not a male-female issue. It is a power issue. Recognize that people in your camp community have different levels of power and the concept and language of consent allows for a discussion that helps empower all voices to be heard.

Consent as Tea

Campus Toolkit for Creating Consent Culture

Ask Doctor G Youtube Channel

University of Minnesota Consent Policy



Tell us your ideas or reflections on this episode by using the following hashtags: #wehavetobebetter and #campcode.



Want more Camp Code?

Gab, Beth, and Ruby are offering a 12-week masterclass to help directors build their staff trainings this winter/spring called Designing Staff Training: A Masterclass with the Cohosts of Camp Code. Over the 12-weeks, participants will partake in weekly phone calls, set aside time to build staff training schedules, and discuss ideas for training with other like-minded #camppros who can't get enough of talking about training!

This course will...

  • help you design the best staff training.
  • provide access to a private Slack workspace.
  • hold you accountable to your staff training design timeline.
  • break down staff training planning into digestable chunks.
  • provide a small and personal community of likeminded #camppros.
  • help you have your best summer yet.

Registration is open now and enrollment is limited. The course will begin at the end of January. Visit to reserve your spot today before it's too late.

Using Mealtime Intentionally During Training - Camp Code #48

How much time do you spend in meals during camp?

Meal times offer opportunities for connections and teaching and every second of staff training is valuable. Every person has to eat. Can these three truths come together and help relieve the time pressure so many of us feel during staff orientation? Consider how much of your summer is spent collective in mealtime so if you aren't already treating the meal like a program area, this summer think about the shifts you can make to use that time as efficiently as possible.

Best Practice in Leadership Training

In the spirit of creating a safer and more inclusive eating space for all your campers, instead of asking others if he/she "wants seconds or thirds" instead simply ask, "Do you want more?" This alleviates any stigma that may come with wanting seconds, thirds, fourths, and beyond.

Have you heard?


Gab, Beth, and Ruby are offering a 12-week masterclass to help directors build their staff trainings this winter/spring called Designing Staff Training: A Masterclass with the Cohosts of Camp Code. Over the 12-weeks, participants will partake in weekly phone calls, set aside time to build staff training schedules, and discuss ideas for training with other like-minded #camppros who can't get enough of talking about training!

If staff training feels like one big project where you aren't sure where to start, or you want to revamp your training and give it a fresh new look, this course will help you design the best staff training, and in turn, have your best summer yet. With access to a private Slack workspace and accountability buddies, you will be missing out on amazing content and community if you don't sign up. See you there?

Registration is open now and enrollment is limited. The course will begin at the end of January. Visit to reserve your spot today.

Balance of Theory and Practice for Training - Camp Code #47

Deciding what to tell and what to practice during leadership training

It can be tricky to strike a balance between sharing with staff why certain topics they learn during staff training are important with the time invested in practicing the skills they are taught. Join Beth, Gab, and Ruby for a discussion about how to get just the right mix of thinking and discussion and hands-on activities for your training this year.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

CC Sticker_125.jpg

At the end of your week, write out all the things you want or need to get done for when you return to work. Then take a critical look at your list and evaluate whether what's there is doable for one day. Reassign deadlines or weed out tasks as you see fit.

When you return to work (after the weekend or after vacation), reassess your list and set realistic deadlines for the tasks on your list as you plan for your week.

Give yourself permission to go on vacation and turn off the ever-running to do list that is the camp director brain.

Moving Forward After a Really Great Summer - Camp Code #46

Staff training after everything's gone beautifully


When things go wrong, we tend to analyze and question what could have been done differently and how to prevent these scenarios from playing out again. Sometimes, we have really fantastic summers when everything pretty much goes as, or better than, planned. These summers are worth reviewing as well to be sure to capture what is worth repeating, what should remain in that glorious summer, and what should change for the future. Was it a great one for you this summer? Tell us what you plan to do again using #CampCode.

Best Practice for Leadership Training

Remember the concept of maintenance! You may be focused on launching new programs and reviewing how to improve them in the future, but don't forget about the old standards that may need some upkeep. Often cleaning is a big part of maintenance. Clean out that arts & crafts closet. Have staff clean program supplies and gear regularly. Set aside time to clean your office and workspace, not only throughout the summer, but also DURING the summer. And if it's not you who has the time and space to do so, don't be shy about spending the money to get that cleaning and maintenance done.

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.