Examples of our rigorous Camp counselor training programJune 21, 2016
We are often asked about how we have such kind, caring, intentional counselors. One of the ways that we make this happen is with our rigorous camp counselor training program. Currently, we are deep into our second week of Staff Training, and yesterday was a really powerful day of learning.
One of the highlights of the day was a visit from renowned child psychologist Dr. Michael Thompson. Michael is the author of many books on child development including “Best Friends, Worst Enemies”, “The Pressured Child” and “Homesick and Happy”, and has been a consultant at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen for almost a decade. During his time with us he ran educational sessions with the bunk counselors for each of our camps, focusing on how we can spot and prevent social cruelty. He discussed the different ways that children marginalize their peers, and how gender and age can influence these behaviors. Then with each camp’s staff he led them through case studies that he and I had developed based on camper challenges we had seen in previous summers.
My favorite part of Michael’s training sessions yesterday was how eager our counselors were to use him as a resource. In both the sessions with our female and male counselor staff we ended later than planned, but only because so many new and returning counselors wanted to ask him for his thoughts on how to best help our campers this summer. This is a camp staff that really cares, and a group that wants to provide each and every camper with the most physically and emotionally safe summer possible!
The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to gain a more complete comprehension of each of our campers. Each unit of staff read the camper dossiers our parents filled out for each of our campers, and met with the counselors who worked with them in previous summers to help build an even more complete understanding of each child.
Then the evening activity was a really special event that we call The Parent Forum. We invited a group of parents from the Boston area to meet with our entire staff. It was an interesting cross section of our camp parents: one had grown up at K&E and had also been a counselor; one had gone to another overnight camp but not ours; and one had gone to day camp but not overnight camp.
And for an hour we asked them questions designed to help our counselors truly understand their parent perspective on camp:
- Why did you choose Kenwood and Evergreen?
- What are the most important outcomes you want your child to get out of this summer?
- What are the qualities of a great camp counselor?
- Why is a 7 week camp experience important to your family?
- What are the little details that even great counselors sometimes miss in a child’s summer away from home?
One of our newest counselors asked the panel what their biggest fears were about sending their sons and daughters to camp. Our counselors listened to the responses with rapt attention as our parents spoke from the heart. Discussing the Parent Panel with our counselors afterwards, it’s clear that this event helped so many of them truly grasp the awesome responsibility they have undertaken by working here this summer.
Our huge thanks to Wendy, Seth and Felicia for taking time out of their busy lives to speak so honestly and eloquently with our staff! Our camp parents are such amazing partners!
Staff Training continues on for 4 more days we have many, many more educational sessions planned. Tomorrow a trainer from Serve-Safe will be on site to conduct an all day workshop with our kitchen staff regarding things like food allergies and eliminating cross contamination, and the following day a representative from the Red Cross will be here to make sure that every possible counselor and specialist is up-to-date in their First Aid and CPR!