Publish at June 08 2022 Updated June 13 2022

Train camp leaders

Instill essential skills so that campers enjoy their experiences

Summer camps come with images. Young campers enjoying the beautiful weather, paddling in a canoe on a lake or hebertism. In the wooden or canvas residences, counselors take care of the children. These animators were not chosen at random. They had to go through a hiring process. Indeed, not all of them can improvise themselves as instructors overnight.

Already, it is usually essential to have had first aid training and, in some cases, water rescue. After all, they are responsible for the safety of the campers. Most importantly, they will be required to attend training a few weeks before the camp opens. In most cases, counselors are 18 or 19 years old, or even a little younger. These young people often have only very little practice of skills such as the ability to talk to strangers, know how to make small repairs, direct attention and make sure the kids are always having fun.

Knowing the leadership team

After meeting and selecting candidates, a camp's management must prepare for training. A job to take up particularly after two years of pandemic that often reduced or even cancelled activities. So the idea is to first give facilitators the basics that they need to know. Whether it's the layout of the space, emergency protocols, rules and regulations, and other aspects that are important to the identity of the camp.

For that matter, there's nothing to prevent some of the training from being offered online. For example, it is not necessary to meet in a room to discuss the history of the camp and its values. On the other hand, situational exercises would require face-to-face exercises. It all depends on how comfortable the leadership is with digital tools.

A huge part of training, whether remote or face-to-face, is getting to know your team well in order to note everyone's strengths (and weaknesses). This will make it easier to assign roles or propose tasks during the summer. With this in mind, it will be easier to integrate interactive exercises with future facilitators. A way to make teaching less tedious and engage those young people wanting a fun job for the summer. This can be as much a discussion about their first name as it can be a more intense about an ethical issue. The goal is to teach them how to break the ice, express themselves, respect others' opinions, etc.

Some will adopt a theme during the training (superheroes, Harry Potter, etc. ) in order to more easily include candidates and create a sense of teamwork as early as possible. Indeed, all these people will have to work together during the summer like a big family. Moreover, the training does not necessarily end when the camp opens. It is possible to continue some activities during the summer season and even to return once the season is over.

The preparation of the facilitator

On the candidates' side, what should they do to ensure that the training is enjoyable, useful and that they get the most out of it? Already, they need to be prepared for everything, as the camp management may have designed games, role plays as well as lectures. This also means thinking about having a change of clothes if an activity is ever held outside.

Then, it is necessary to be yourself. It can be tempting for a facilitator to want to show that they are good at everything. However, this is rarely true and may give false impressions to management. By acting normally, everyone will see the person's unique characteristics and know who to count on to make a banner or organize a play. This is especially true since camps are attended by children from very different backgrounds. Accepting the differences of others is therefore essential to work in a summer camp. Finally, the candidate should not hesitate to ask questions when he or she is not sure of understanding something. He or she had better clear up any misunderstandings right away before the campers arrive.

In addition, counselors can prepare for the camp season in advance. By knowing what the place looks like, they can already plan activities with colleagues. It can be good to gain some knowledge about the local flora and fauna in order to educate the children who will visit the camp. And most importantly, know multiple games in advance, songs, stories to fill the moments when campers become dissipated. After all, a counselor's biggest responsibility is to make sure everyone has fun during these great weeks.

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