Running a successful summer camp program is harder than ever for new and seasoned camp directors because of recent external factors that complicate day-to-day operations. Among these factors are supply chain delays, threats of wildfire or harsh weather conditions, civil unrest, and the fallout of a global pandemic, which has brought fear, anger, and social isolation impacting everyone.
This book was written not only to address these external factors through proven leadership principles, but also to discuss these issues in “real time,” in a concerted effort to capture all the stresses of summer programming while running camp at the same time. All factors considered, this was no easy feat to accomplish.
The author wrote this book while overseeing the operational side of a summer family camp which includes a headcount of 300 to 400 campers per session, with almost a 100-person staff. With the aid of an eight-person managerial workforce, his responsibilities included running a buffet-style dining hall, hotel-style lodging, age-group programs for babies to young adults, an arts and crafts center, three high-adventure ropes courses, two swimming pools, and the maintenance of 56 acres of grounds/forest and 85 buildings. This family camp program runs 15 sessions which start on Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day weekend.
In numerous instances, while writing this book, the author would have to pause, leave his office, and work on a challenging situation that was happening at camp that day, only to realize, when he returned to finish writing about the leadership principle on which he was working, that he had just used the same leadership principle to address the very concept that he was writing about. As a result, each leadership principle taught in this book includes real-life examples of its application.
This is not a dusty old handbook of instruction with ideas of a bygone era, when camp operations seemed simpler; a time when a camp director could sit on a lawn chair on the deck of the lodge sipping lemonade from a camp-logoed water bottle, watching campers work on their leathercraft. This book is “boots on the ground,” as it examines real and relevant issues written for the present time, with insight and wisdom for what camp staff need right now!
Among the leadership principles addressed in this book are crisis management, recruiting, training, supervising, motivating, and correcting camp staff, along with effective communication skills in working with full-time professional staff.
Other key enlightening aspects of this book illustrate how liberating it is to delegate authority not just responsibility, to understand that trust is the most important leadership skill, and to always collaborate with camp staff in following their creative ways in problem solving. These are just three of the 101 leadership principles discussed in this book, using hundreds of examples from a day in the life of a camp director.
Featuring a comprehensive look at effective leadership and teambuilding skills, this book is written as a guide for new camp directors. It can be extremely intimidating for new camp directors to lead camp staff who have greater experience in the camp’s operations and time-honored traditions than they do. However, within the pages of this book are numerous examples of leadership principles that will help and assist new camp directors to lead with confidence and foster growth and innovation in those they lead, while establishing a relationship of trust.