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What improvements could Camp Staff make?

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  • #16
    The DE from my district was appointed to be Camp Director after he had been there a year. He's had extensive experience as a camp staffer, so he took to it like a duck on a june bug.

    Rather than being a District Executive distracted by being a Camp Director, he tended to be a Camp Director distracted by being a District Executive!

    He wore his CD patch on his uniform, not a DE patch.

    Not that much of a problem though. District volunteers pitched in and made things happen.

    After three years as CD, he was promoted to being a District Director and his Camp Program Director took his place as District Executive of our district.


    • #17
      I would agree sr40beaver that overbooking would make resources and staff thin but in the case of the first camp, the camp was half empty.

      One factor I forgot to meantion, the second camp with the better facilities and food, costs less than the first camp per scout. (Also adults, within reason, were free as opposed to the first camp who wanted to charge each adult the same as a scout.)


      • #18
        A few observations ...

        - The camp staff's attitude is set by the first five minutes they arrive in camp. If the CD and PD are hanging out in the office laughing about inside jokes with their buddies, and aren't organized ("You're in Cabin 12..., no, Tent 2 ... err ...") or welcoming ("Oh. Hey. Who are you?"), then that sets a poor tone for the whole of staff week. The CD and PD and their area directors need to be on the ball from day one.

        - Area directors and the senior staff in the living quarters need to be on the alert to make sure the younger staff is getting plenty of sleep and rest, not staying up until midnight or 1 a.m. watching movies and playing board or video games.

        - Area directors should have training not just in their subject matter, but in how to manage, deploy and even discipline staff. That's different from leading a troop or crew, and it wasn't something that NCS taught when I went through.

        - At least a day should be spent during staff week on teaching program staffers how to teach. (This is usually slimmed down to a few hours, if that.) Most young staffers will have only ever taught a small group or patrol of guys they know. This will likely be their first time up in front of an unfamiliar group trying to command their attention and keep it, which is a heck of a challenge for adults, let alone teenagers. They need to get advice in the proper way to deal with cut-ups and bored kids, in how to position your body when demonstrating a skill one-on-one vs. a group of 30+ Scouts, in the best way to do recordkeeping, etc.

        - Staff should be focused on the campers. It's fine to joke among yourselves; camaraderie is essential. But once the campers come down the trail, all that stops.


        • #19
          Make sure the staff has the resources and training they need. A day by day guide would have been useful for the staff at the different badges.
          Last year at the camp our troop frequents, space ex was a disaster because the staff in charge was not given the appropriate support. He had scouts making their rockets on the last day. This was with one bottle of Elmer's glue for attaching fins to the rocket. Since this wasn't working another adult and I provided duck tape to make the needed attachments. Of course on launching day, none of the three launchers worked. The staff leader should have been supported with a syllabus that would have him guide the boys in assembling rockets earlier in the week to allow the glue to dry and deal with mishaps. Functioning equipment was needed as well.
          Climbing was likewise backloaded making it difficult for the boys to get their require repels and belays in. They should have been on the tower no later than the beginning of day two instead of the end of day three.
          Our troops feedback was that you have a large group of ready made volunteers (adult leaders) sitting around. Ask for help-with the proper coaching not to take over from the youth instructors.


          • #20
            maybe some kind of incentive system based on votes by the troops that stayed there. Needs to emphasize quality over quantity, otherwise "most merit badges earned" will make the process even sloppier than now.
            First place winner gtets the largest end of season bonus.
            Saturday nights are many times free (Troops leave Sat. morn, next batch not in until Sun. afternoon). That could be staff steak night, plus addressing the problems of previous week via workshops...


            • #21
              goheelz, it is interesting how different camps make different use of the human resources that show up with units.

              Some survey in advance in the style of the old Troop Resource Survey. They then plan the week including these transitory "staff" - contacting you in advance to discuss what you can do to help.

              At the other extreme, one camp made it very very clear that the help of "outsiders" was neither required or desired.

              As it developed, the first opinion was very wrong and the second went away by Wednesday of that first week of camp. By Wednesday, one of our parents, a paramedic, was running First Aid and Safety, when it turned out the staff didn't know much about either topic. Two of our adults were running the Waterfront. (The official staff of two was being overwhelmed. Two staff present at any one time - with two levels of swimming, Swimming MB, Life-Saving MB, Canoeing, Canoeing MB rowing, Rowing MB, Mile Swim and Small Boat Sailing. Repeated "emergency" camp assemblies for head checks due to Buddy Board failures.)

              What happened after we left is sad to think about. And that camp had fantastic physical facilities -- perhaps the best I have seen -- and a staff of about seventy-five. Hopeless PD.


              • #22
                Goheelz - In my day, instructors HAD to develop a day-by-day lesson plan with a lot of detail, and they had to be approved by the area director. Sorry your boys had that situation, but that's not normal practice.


                • #23
                  Last summer I was one of three Camp Commissioners at a week of summer camp.

                  There was one cabin sheltering young CTs, Commissioners in Training. I'm told that was a zoo, but I didn't have occasion to look in on them.

                  The other cabin sheltered adult commissioners and much of the rest of the staff, not including the Camp Director and Program Director.

                  The staff in the second cabins did little to clean or maintain their cabin. The restroom and bath area SMELLED after a few days, and was a mess.

                  After a few days of that, I spent the time to do a through cleanup, and left a note saying expected the facility to be maintained in the future.

                  The most experienced Commissioner remonstrated with me about that, saying it was unreasonable to expect the staffers to take care of their living quarters (They WERE very busy). Not being very happy with his advice, but taking it anyway, I removed the note and cleaned the cabin and bath myself the remainder of the week.

                  Personally, I think they should have taken responsibility for taking care of their area. I could have complained to the CD, but I chose not to do so based on the advice of the other Commissioner.


                  • #24
                    Who has been a Camp Commissioner, and what kind of responsibilities did you have?

                    A Camp Commissioner is an experienced Scouter who is an unpaid staff member at camp for a week or longer.

                    What kind of responsibilities are typically given to Camp Commissioners, and what kinds of responsibilities are appropriate to assign to Commissioners?


                    What kind of supervision is typically given to CITs (Counselors in Training) usually 13 year old Boy Scouts serving a week or more as an unpaid staffer?

                    In the camp where I was Commissioner, the CITs were in a cabin by themselves. I heard stories passed around about life in that cabin. I don't know if it was being supervised by some responsible person. If it wasn't being supervised, it should be.


                    • #25

                      What did the other 73 staff do? We currently have a staff of ~35, but we still have 7 aquatics counselors and 1 aquatics director, each of whom are responsible for either a merit badge or instructional swim. We haven't (knock on wood) had an LBD (lost bather drill) in at least 4 years, and hope to keep it that way for a fifth.


                      • #26

                        What did the other 73 staff do? We currently have a staff of ~35, but we still have 7 aquatics counselors and 1 aquatics director, each of whom are responsible for either a merit badge or instructional swim. We haven't (knock on wood) had an LBD (lost bather drill) in at least 4 years, and hope to keep it that way for a fifth.


                        • #27
                          "What did the other 73 staff do?"

                          There were four other staff assigned to waterfront at all times. They had endless water-balloon fights at the waterfront building - a good 80 yards from the water -- when they ere not sun-bathing or napping. The rescue rowboat had its oarlocks locked up in the camp headquarters 'so they won;t be snitched." That was a good ten minutes round trip away at a good run. Beginners were allowed to take canoes out behind an island where they could not be watched. The Canoeing MB folks, on the other hand, first got in a canoe on Friday. Our troop's two former BSA Waterfront Directors could impose safety but not staff effort or competency.

                          The Scoutcraft Area Director was super in every respect - but had no say in selection of his staff of eleven Scouts. He confided in me on Wednesday that the eleven, combined, might not be able to pass First Class, but there they were as "Merit Badge Counselors." The head First Aid staffer told the kids the first day that "sunstroke and heat exhaustion are the same and are treated the same." It went downhill from there. The three staff assigned to Pioneering were not allowed to build anything after the 24 foot tower they build using binder twine fell over the first Sunday of camp. (No one was badly hurt.) They also were looking in the MB pamphlet as they tied knots. The Area Director started asking for help Tuesday night. The PD showed up on Thursday and asked me where the Camping MB Counselors were. I told him I had sent them to find some wood. He said "OK," and left.

                          Other areas (Field Sports; Cope and Climbing; Nature; Crafts) seemed to be running just fine. The Field Sports Director had refused some of the staff he was given ("totally useless"). As an "icon," he could get away with this. The Cope and Climbing guys were real pros and had been selected by the Council No. 2 after problems the previous year (same PD then.

                          The PD was mailing it in. And he was not alone. The last 1/3 of the troops got no lunch Wednesday. "We ran out. Sorry."

                          He did not go back.


                          • #28
                            "Who has been a Camp Commissioner, and what kind of responsibilities did you have?" -- SeattlePioneer

                            I haven't been a commissioner, but our camp runs the commissioner service a bit differently than it seems most camps do.

                            The position is paid and the duties are as follows:

                            "COMMISSIONER(S) (18+ & MIGHT BE IN CHARGE OF EITHER OUTDOOR SKILLS OR NATURE) Responsible to: Program Director

                            Duties are as follows: (1) Required to have BSA National Camp School certification in Commissioner. (2) Will be directly responsible to the Program Director. (3) Responsible for camp health and safety. (4) Meet with all assigned units as they arrive in camp, make them feel welcome and aid them in check-in procedures. (5) Help to interpret the patrol method by assisting in the assignment of patrols, tent partners, and in any area of need. (5) Aid the unit in program planning by describing all of the feasible camp activities, and offering occasional recommendations. (6) Is an adult supervisor and is responsible for unit safety and activity during the 24 hour day. (7) Meet periodically during the day with the boy and adult troop leaders to see that the program is running smoothly. (8) Interpret the policies and regulations of the Bay-Lakes Council, Wisconsin Health Standards, and Camp policies where necessary. (9) An all-round "good guy" to the scouts and adults. He/she is a counselor and a teacher. Builds spirit, enthusiasm and good will into his/her troops. (10) Be available to the Scouts to help them in any way possible, but he/she must guard against taking over the unit program. He/she must lead and guides inter troop activities. (11) Ready to be a Program Commissioner over a Program Area. (12) Skilled in Tenderfoot through First Class requirements and outdoor merit badges, because he/she may be called upon to give assistance in these areas. (13) Holds certification in and/or equivalent Red Cross Standard First Aid and CPR (adult). (14) Other duties as assigned by the Program Director or Camp Director."

                            We have one senior commissioner (only job is commissioner) and one or two others who have program department (Aquatics, Outdoor Skills, Climbing, etc.) teaching responsibilities.


                            • #29
                              "A Camp Commissioner is an experienced Scouter who is an unpaid staff member at camp for a week or longer."

                              Not always. It may be a younger Scouter (18+) who is paid. The position varies from camp to camp. The common denominator is that the head Commissioner has to attend National Camping School.


                              • #30
                                Please tell me that having a NCS trained commissioner is a NOT a mandatory standard.

                                When I was Camp Commissioner, I was a DE assigned to summer camp and my job was to be the work with the troops and be the problem solver. I did campsite inspections, met with the leaders daily, deliver coffee and newspaper each morning in the campsites, and if any problems arose, deal with them.