Managing Your Camp for Success
With summer around the corner… We want to share some of our tips from training camp directors, camp counselors, and teachers. These strategies below apply to any group or classroom setting. It is really about establishing respect, boundaries, structure, repetition, and consistency. In theory it seems simple, but it is a hard job to manage students or campers that have behavioral problems. We often come in and train staff on best practices. So we want to provide you with some tools to start your summer on the right foot.
Group management is an ongoing process that can be difficult to establish. Having the right strategies in place, takes away stress, potential problems, and adds fun to the environment. So let’s look at what strategies might benefit you. Remember to use these tools as guiding point to help your camp counselors start off on the right foot.
- Set rules, boundaries, and expectations in your group: Share them with your campers in the beginning of summer. You can create a posted board or some visual so they can always see it first thing in the morning. Remember to repeat the rules, boundaries, and expectations on a daily basis. You can make it a morning routine and engage the campers. Use this as a starting point in the morning to check-in with your kids. Create a song, a game, or a mantra to keep engagement high!
- Start the days with a ritual, such as sharing a story, quote, or joke: Have the campers take turns sharing during the morning ritual. You can assign them days to share their ritual or you can make it a group effort. Make a time to check-in and connect each morning. This will help for you to monitor kids moods, attitude, or challenges.
- Develop a chant, team name, or team cheer: Have the campers come up with a team name and cheer. It is easy and creates camaraderie. Use the chant to transition from activities or as a way to celebrate mini successes. Super easy to do and helps create a positive energy. We promise, it will bond your group and create a fun group environment. We do it with all our groups and assemblies. It really brings out the team spirit!
- Say good morning and use the kids’ names to create connections with campers: You might be the first one to acknowledge a camper that day and by saying good morning, could change the course of the child’s day. Kids love to be acknowledged and feel important. We all do. All it takes is a simple “Hello Billie!” “Good Morning Morgan!” to change their attitude or shift their day!
- While transitioning from an activity, form a line and elect a leader to lead the group to the next activity: Change camper leaders everyday and remember to praise the leader when they are leading your group. Sharing how they did a good job will empower the campers to lead more often and set a good example. Remember to be consistent and fair when you elect daily leaders. It will give campers a chance to show their skills, feel valued, and add incentives to your group.
- Address teasing right away: Don’t ignore it, laugh about it, or think that it is a part of growing up. It is not and with technology these days it can cost you a lot of time and effort at your camp. Teasing often leads to bullying and it is harmful for a child’s self-esteem.
- Be a Role Model: Remember these kids look up to you. You are probably a role-model to a few of them. They think you are cool and they want to be like you. Remember how you looked up to your camp counselor. Kids are so impressionable, so be the best version of yourself!
Use your power to start teaching them about kindness and eliminate the teasing. Share about how it hurts to be excluded or teased. Create strategies for the kids to help each other and resolve conflict. By doing that you are building strong resilient kids. One day, the kid that looked up to you might save a life, because of what you taught them this summer!
Teaching positive social skills eliminates bullying, empowers kids to be kind, and helps everyone be safe!
Until Next Time…