Happy Staff, Happy Camper
Ryan, Katelyn, and I just attended a conference that centered around creating psychological safety at camp. We spent three days at a strikingly beautiful residential camp in the hills of LA taking a look at staff culture, with a major focus on creating psychological safety (shout out to Ta’amod for great training, and Foundation for Jewish Camp for putting it on!). In so many ways, camp can be an ideal society – for learning, for growing, and for testing out who we want to be. But it can only be that kind of community if our leadership staff sets the foundation correctly and provide check ins with staff and campers along the way.
For staff, Ranch Camp is both a workplace and a social environment. If we, as leaders, are not intentional about what our camp culture is (and equally important, what it is not), it can compromise the experience we want all our staff to have. We put SO much into our staff, from hiring to orientation, because we know how the staff’s experience directly shapes the camper experience. We also know how much of an impact a great first work experience has in shaping the young professionals that work for us each summer. When they wave goodbye to the last camper at the end of the summer, we want our staff to reflect on their time at Ranch Camp with joy as they think back on the memories they made, with love at the community they created, and with pride at who they have become.
One of the major themes that stood out to us in the conference was the idea of Heneini (“Here I am”). We are called on to take action and make a difference. There are a lot of elements we are responsible for each summer, from our youngest campers to our staff and all of the hundreds of action items that go into creating a smooth camp experience. For us, Heneini is doing the intentional work of creating a camp community each and every summer that is safe (both emotionally and physically) and fun, supports wellness, celebrates growth, and sends everyone who entered our gates home standing a little taller.
We still have a lot of work to do before we start to welcome our staff and campers this summer (in just over 80 days!) There are staff to interview, supplies to order, horses to bridle, forms and nametags to print, and about a million other things. But, having the opportunity to take time to meticulously plan what we want our camp culture to look like and feel like was invigorating. Like you, we are counting down the days ‘til summer!