For the past several weeks we have been covering the topic of things we teach our summer camp counselors. Last week we talked about how we train our summer staff to handle emergencies at summer camp.
Unfortunately, we can train our staff to be perfect counselors, we can train them how to respond in emergency situations, and Miracle Camp and Retreat Center can be a perfect place, but there will still be problems.
That’s because more than one camper comes to camp each week!
This week’s topic – handling problems caused by campers
As soon as two campers come to camp there are bound to be problems. Unfortunately sometimes there is bullying caused by another camper, or maybe another camper is being rude and disruptive during a cabin time, or maybe it’s as simple as a homesick camper that requires extra attention. Whatever the situation we want our staff to follow some steps to help preserve an amazing week for the other campers in their cabin.
Step #1 – Intervene Immediately
The first and most important step when there are problems is to do something. This seems like it shouldn’t need to be said, but in American culture, often our first response to problems is to walk the other way or to pretend like it didn’t happen. We don’t like to confront people and we don’t like dealing with problems. Sometimes we hope they will just go away on their own.
However, while we are caring for other children, it’s important that we intervene right away. Sometimes children will not speak up for themselves so we try to train our staff to recognize when a camper might be bothered by other camper’s behavior. The most important thing is for our staff to stop the disruptive behavior…and we provide them with some steps to do that.
Step #2 – Tell Someone (Probably someone on the program team)
The other things we’re not very good at as human beings is telling someone about the problem. We so often want to be independent and try to take care of things on our own, as if that were a sign of strength. But in this situation we want our staff to involve our leadership team early. This is so we know about the problem before it turns into a bigger problem. Our leadership team is a group of staff who are veterans in camping. They have experience in handling problems and difficulties and are excellent at giving advice and lending a hand when needed.
The other reason we like the program office to be aware of the problems early is because we want to do Step #3 really well…
Step #3 – Involve Parents Early
There’s no one who knows your camper better than you. We train our staff that if they are in doubt about whether they should call home or not, they should call home. Sometimes a camper who is homesick can be calmed down by a quick word of advice from the parent to the counselor. Sometimes a camper who has been bullied doesn’t feel alone and singled out if they know their parents are behind them. And we have found that parents feel much more secure when they know that we’re paying attention to the condition of their camper.
We’re not perfect
Every week isn’t perfect and we’re not perfect at stopping problems caused by other campers, but as our trained staff follow these steps and seek to make every week an amazing week for every camper, we believe for your camper it will be pretty close to a perfect week!
Our promise to parents is that we will do our best to recognize problems, address problems quickly and effectively, and involve your advice early if needed.
And as always…if you have a concern…give us a call. We use phone calls from you as an opportunity to improve our training for our next group of staff, and sometimes even in mid summer. We enjoy hearing from you and how we can improve!