Children’s summer camps and wilderness programs for boys and girls in the United…

June 18, 2017

The Best Summer Camp in America (7) – The Staff Makes the Camp

This is the seventh article in a series of ten on Choosing the Best Summer Camp in America.

CP-bestsummercamp7Why a Great Camp Staff Is Important

When choosing your family’s summer camp, consider the camp’s staff.  Most administrators will tell you that having the best facility and equipment is meaningless without an outstanding staff. Good counselors can inspire campers to achieve beyond their expectations and can guide them through difficult transitions. In a short span of time, a counselor may need to coach a participant through homesickness, teach tennis for a few hours, and then mediate a disagreement between two kids about who gets the top bunk. It’s not a job for the weak of heart.

Find Out How Counselors are Chosen

In choosing where to send your kids next summer, try to determine how the counselors are chosen. As with any organization that hires adults to supervise children, care must be taken in the hiring process. A quality organization will have a hiring process that screens out young adults that are just looking for a fun summer for themselves. Fun staff members are a critical component of a successful camp, but first and foremost, the focus must be on a quality experience for the campers. The best camps will have detailed applications, check references, and conduct background checks on potential staff members.

What Kind of Training Do Staff Members Complete?CP-bestsummercamp27

Staff training prior to the camp season sets the tone for the summer. A good staff orientation will facilitate the staff bonding as a team, focus on achieving the mission of the camp, and spot areas for needed improvement in activity skills or interpersonal skills. Summer camps with activities that require specific expertise, such as rock climbing, sailing, or mountain biking, should have a significant amount of time during staff orientation to focus on those activities and how to appropriate ways to teach those activities to youth.

Camp counselors work long hours with limited free time for weeks at a time. Excellent organization will develop ways to provide much needed free time for staff without sacrificing the supervision of participants.

Questions to Ask about Summer Camp Staff:

  • What is the staff-to-camper ratio?
  • What training & experience is required of all staff and for staff who lead trips?
  • What is the minimum age of counselors?
  • What is the time-off policy for counselors?

How to Choose the Best Summer Camps

This is but one of the ten considerations to bear in mind to help find the best camp for your child.

  1. Family decision
  2. Philosophy
  3. Program
  4. Cost
  5. Consider the Location
  6. Camp size
  7. Camp staff
  8. Standards & accreditation
  9. References
  10. Facility

When you’ve decided the best-sized camp for your kids, can help you choose one of the many in the United States and Canada.