Training is often the first chance you have to introduce your new and returning camp staff. In just a week or so, you must bring the staff together and turn members into an enthusiastic, functioning team that will be ready for campers. As you plan staff training activities, consider ways you can help them get to know each other, bond as friends, and create memories.
Arriving as a new camp staffer can be a daunting experience, particularly if there are returning staff present who have friendships and know the camp. Get everyone talking by planning icebreakers on the first day of training. You might have everyone share the story of how they got their name, or have them say as much as they can about themselves in a specific time limit. You can also play Two Truths and a Lie, where people say three things about themselves and the group must guess which is not true. The more ridiculous the icebreaker, the more your staff will laugh and relax.
When campers arrive, your staff will need to be prepared to lead activities, sing favorite camp songs, be prepared for meal times, lead hikes, and go on overnight trips. To prepare your staff to lead activities, let them be the campers for a week. Have returning staff act as the leaders for training to teach all of the camp traditions and ask new staff to learn by doing. The staff will bond as they play games and sing around the campfire, which will help them get through the summer as a team.
Camp staff is expected to know everything about camp, from the location of the bathrooms to the sites for camp traditions. To familiarize your staff trainees with the camp layout, hold a scavenger hunt. Break the new staff members into teams and give them a starting clue that will lead them to a different place around camp. Place returning staff members at each important spot. When the new staff gets to their first location, the old staff member can explain its significance and hand out the new clue. If you want to add a teamwork component, require that each group perform a task in order to get the next clue.
In order to work together as a cohesive unit, camp staff members must be able to trust one another so that they can turn to one another for help during the summer. After your staff has had the chance to get acquainted at training, build in trust activities. Choose things that will be fun but require staff to listen and trust each other. One activity is "Minefield," where staff pair up; one person is blindfolded and must navigate through a field of obstacles by listening to the non-blindfolded partner's directions.
Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.