For camp directors, late June, July and August are hectic, exciting, fun-filled and challenging months.
So what do we do the rest of the year? The question should be: What don’t we do? Camp directors work as hard in the “off-season” as they do during the actual camp sessions. Some of it is visible to campers, parents and staff members – but much of it no one ever sees.
Camps today run 24/7/365, minus a few weeks for vacation. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are just a few tasks that demand our attention, beginning the moment the last campers and staff pull out of the parking lot and make their way down Widji road.
- We often have 2-4 weekend retreats at Widji for youth groups on weekends.
- Closing down camp. Equipment must be put away, docks pulled in, cabins and kitchen cleaned. Winterization begins in September and finishes after Thanksgiving when all the water lines get blown out.
- Construction begins on new projects we, and many camps, do each year. There are renovations to be done, roofs to be re-shingled… the list is endless. This is exciting stuff: planning, building and getting new program areas ready for the following summer! Returning campers and staff love “being in the know,” and hearing what’s new and improved for the coming season. Longer-term planning includes major building projects. This year we’re planning a major kitchen remodel.
- Camper recruiting and retention. Working with families is a fun process. Camp/family relationships are very important, and ongoing. You may be surprised to learn that this winter, we’re already talking with families about their 2020 plans.
- Staff hiring. Staff applications go live in December, interviews start in January and continue until we have all 50 staff hired for the summer.
- Promotional season. From January through May we attend up to 40 camp fairs and events to recruit staff and campers. We also work with our Ignite partners to help them maximize their week at camp.
- Program planning. We spend 10 months getting ready for a 2-month special event. What will our theme be for the summer? 2020 is The Chronicles of Widjiitiwin (Narnia). From scheduling SALT out trips to making sure the daily routine does not become a rut, we plan every detail. Props to build.
- Everything else. Here are a few of the thousands of items: Coordinating camp pastors. Writing and sending out email newsletters. Reserving buses. Revising our staff handbooks, policies and training sessions to plan. Renewing all necessary certifications. Updating technology. Writing weekly blogs. Make grant and funding proposals. Websites to update. Our staffing portal to prepare for staff applications. Heyoo does a great job creating our camper and staff brochures. Conferences to attend. Certifications to renew. Not to mention all the social media to keep on top of.
- Spring. Five spring crew start in May and help us get camp and the final program touches ready for the summer season. We usually have 2-3 youth groups in for weekend retreats. We have tree cutting. Water to turn on. painting to be done, flowers to plant. New pedal carts to assemble this year. Plus we have a staff work/development weekend and development week to plan and execute. It’s a busy year.
Our goal as camp directors is to control as much as we can when campers and staff are at home – so that when they’re at camp we can devote as much time, energy and care to them as we can.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got emails to respond to. A meeting to plan. And a potentially great new staff member waiting to be interviewed.
Moose & Heyoo