Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
shortridge

DEs working summer camp

Recommended Posts

 

In his excellent roundup of the duties of a DE, Eagle92 mentions how during his time as a pro he helped run summer camp. (I'm not sure in what capacity - as program director or camp director or some other job - sorry.)

 

My council has one or two DEs who also do double-duty as summer camp program directors, but for the most part, they're not camp program people. Is it common, in the broad experience of this board, to have DEs switch gears during the summer from fundraising and membership to camp administration? And what advantages or disadvantages have you seen that system bring?

 

(I remember from my time as a Cub that our DE did help run Cub day camp - but that's a different story, as that was a district-run program, and only for a week.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in a very large council. Back when money was more available, this didn't happen in our council. We had pros in charge of camping (who were not DEs), but they did administrative stuff, mainly at the office, and generally hired seasonal employees to be program directors at camp.

 

Money has tightened up considerably, and the council is now tasking district executives to take on council level positions, and doubling up other staff members with additional responsibilities. For instance, the director of camping and properties left the council, and the staff member in charge of one of our two Boy Scout resident camps was promoted to be director of camping and properties. He is still the director of the Boy Scout camp, and will do both jobs. The director of Cub camping is now also in charge of our newest camp - http://www.explorebasecamp.org/

 

I know from attending National Camp School, that in councils smaller than ours, using professional staff members to be camp directors or program directors is fairly common. The rationale is that for DEs, summer is less busy (no popcorn, litlle recruiting or FOS activity), camp is usually over in August, just in time to rev up again in September. The down side is that if the individual wearing both hats isn't a "program person", the job may not be done as well as it would by a seasonally hired staffer with a passion for presenting a great program.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our council just went through district refinement..or whatever you want to call it.

 

We went from a bunch of districts to only 4.

 

One of the DE's who used to cover 2 large districts, is now in charge of Programs.

 

Truth be told, he's really great at doing the program jobs. THis guy was a great DE, but is a better program director for the council. He was at our Cub Scout Resident camp this past weekend and he wanted to head up the campfire program. Matter of fact, he headed up the parent/son campfire too.

 

Now, maybe saying headed up isn'y quite right. He played EMCEE or host.

 

THis guy sang the entire Spongbob song, and he actually sounded dead on like the captain. He loves being in and watching skits.

 

Again, he3 was a very good DE, but I think he has found his calling as Program director.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Short,

 

I wore too many hats that summer. Started out as the Camp Commissioner, wound up being the Dining Hall Director when that person quit, did some of the business manager's work when he had some unplanned surgery done, and one week had to teach Lifesaving MB when that counselor had to go out on a kayaking expedition b/c I was told to remain in camp with the new unit I started instead of guiding the expedition. So I was essentially the jack of all trades that summer. It brought back memories of when I was part of the Service crew at a camp in the UK and we could eb expected to go anywhere we were needed.

 

Every council does things differently. In my old council, the first summer I worked had a Field Director and a DD as business manager. One DE did show up for two weeks, staff week and first week, to work on the COPE Course since, A) He was the COPE staff adviser B) His sister was the lead director, and C) He use to build Ropes Courses prior to being a DE. So he helped get the course ready for inspection since it was completed about 7-10 days before staff week.

 

When I returned to that camp 4 years later, the council had a Program Director as camp director, and a volunteer as business director. no other pros worked camp. The following year, we had a Senior DE as camp director, and a DE as business director. When it was realized that it might not be a good idea to have the CD work another summer, they sent a new DE with camp experience the last week of camp to get a feel for it the next year.

 

Now the council I worked in at the time had the policy of every DE doing at least one week at camp. One was business manager, I was commissioner, and the other 7 would each spend a week. I don't know why they did it as some DEs had nothing to contribute to camp. They just stayed around and did nothing. While those with previous camp expereince usually had jobs to do when they were there.

 

Now I have heard of smaller councils needing every pro to work camp to keep it afloat. It's like the office shuts down essentially and everyone is at camp. I personally have not seen this, but have heard about it a few times.

 

Advantages

1) Does give the DE a break from normal duties and have a little fun while working. Yes there are challenges at summer camp, but let's face it a bad day camping is better than a good day at work ;)

 

2) Gives the DE a better chance to interact with volunteers. Yes I hated having to give up being a kayaking guide, but I was able to strengthen a relationship with a new unit and help them out better since I was with them the entire week at camp.

 

3) Gives the DE a sense of why we work our butts off.

 

4) Gives DE a chance t meet volunteers outside his district.

 

Disadvantages

 

1)It does take time away from finishing up FOS and preparing for Round Up.Lots of prep work is in the summer, and when I came home form camp, I was behind schedule in regards to planning.

 

2)Some DEs are not program people and do more harm at camp. I've seen a great camp and staff that one pro built up over 5 years go to Hades in a handbasket in just one summer b/c of the the DE that was director was not program oriented. That was the absolute worse summer camp I worked at, and probaly 75-85% of the staff were returning staffers.

 

3) Time away from families. Let's face it, DE's do not get a lot of family time. Try being sent to camp for the summer, where you only come home for 24 hours, if you are lucky, every week. I know the wife wasn't happy that I was sent to camp the week after we were married, and I know of 1 DE who got a divorce b/c summer camp was his wife's breaking point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our current DD will be camp direct at one of our summer camps, he leaves in May and won't be back to late July, early August. Last summer he was the program director at out other summer camp, but he was in transistion from being our DE to another District's DE at the time.

 

I'm in a very large council, in a large district, which is lower income (+70% free or reduced lunch in the public schools), so we have a DD and a DE specifically assigned to our district, luckily we don't have to share the DD. But, we're always short one or the other. In the last 3 years or so, we've gone through 6 pros...only one has quit (Our last DD who had about 5 years experience, had a baby and decided to stay home), everyone else has been promoted. Last year we had a new DE hired in late July, he went out to TX for his training and then a week later the DD quit. Since the other one was up at camp, over two hours away, he was thrown in to the mix doing school night recruiting with only the District Commissioner Staff there to help.

 

Camp is very important, but so is recruitment, and when a district like mine is short staff, we can't afford to have pros gone for the summer.

 

I think there are pros and cons to the situation, and each depend upon your own distict make-up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eagle92,

 

Thanks for the insight! Not to pry, but I'm curious about living arrangements and was wondering if you could shed some light. In most places, when you take a job you rent or buy a house. But when a DE is assigned to basically move in to a cabin at camp for 2-3 months, does the council usually cover the rent or mortgage on the place they're not living in but still have to pay for?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having the DE at camp does take him away from the District and work that needs to continue there. If a DE has not been good at communicating during the rest of the year, camp time makes it worse.

 

The main reason for using DEs for camp duty, at least for the council, is a cost factor. They have already invested heavily in training for a DE and using them at camp is a way to get some return on that. They also save money by not having to hire someone for camp and still have the DE in the district.

 

For the DE, they need to have camp duty on their resume if they hope to move up. With no camp duty, they normally can not be considered for any higher position in the BSA.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Short,

 

No my council did not pay the rent, I still had to pay it on the apartment, as well as the utilities. And yes I didn't go home except may be 2 times that summer, one was for a charter presentation (I left at 11AM Sat and didn't get to camp until 6:30 or 7PM on Sunday), and to get a well needed break before "Hell Week" when the camp gets rented out and the organization doing the renting was "very specific on your duties," to put it mildly. It didn't make sense for me to drive home since I was leaving after the rest of the staff, and needed to be there before the staff showed up. Plus the camp was a lot closer to a nice size city than my town was, so I just drove into the city on the weekends and had fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

shortridge

 

As a DE I too was the assistant camp director one year and camp director the next. In our council there was a very small one room cabin that the camp director was provided. We were there to handle any problems that might come up, leaving the program director and his staff the freedom to concentrate on just program. We could inneract with the units there, but our main function was to deal with things like running out of supplies, the pool springing a leak, camp inspections, equipment problems, a drunken camp cook, etc. It really worked out well because the program director and his people could devote ALL their time to just their specialities, and the night and morning programs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a goodly number of years our Assistant Scout Executive, who has been with the Council for a very long time. (He was here in 1977, when I first came over, was gone for a couple of years and then returned.)Has worked as Reservation Director. Keeping an eye on both the Cub Scout camp and the Boy Scout camp.

He is well known and well liked and does know what he is doing. So that is OK by me.

I did make a big fuss when I was District Chairman and some twit (SE) thought he was going to take away my DE for the summer. I was not going to allow that to happen.

We are busy over the summer. The big recruiting for the year is done in early September. The program material and popcorn information is given out to the units in August. The dinner I held for the Community FOS Captains was also in August and we had training's for both Cub Scouter's and Boy Scouter's in the planning stage.

Taking away a DE to do what someone else could do for less than $10.00 an hour was just silly.

I took this to our Executive Board and they agreed with me. It makes no sense to have someone who is earning almost $40k do a camp job.

Maybe that's why they are District Executives?

I kept my DE close to home and together we reached our goals.

Eamonn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Woah, I'm finding myself agreeing with Eamonn :)

 

The work of the district certainly doesn't slow down over the summer, so I question the use of a DE during those summer months. It may save money in the short-term, but at what cost for that district? For the unit-serving executives, I would say camp service isn't in the best interest of all involved.

 

For the program oriented professionals, I think it's another story entirely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the council, since merged, I grew up in the SE was the Camp Director. The DEs did not work at camp. In my present Council the ASE and DE's staff our camps as both CD and PD so the districts are left hanging during camp season. Last year our quite capable DE was assigned to all our Council's day camps. Our unit service fell to none for over two months, at the end of which it was announced he was moving on to a new council. I think they need to seriously look at the qualifications of the pro staff to fill camp jobs. If the pro staff are not excellent at camp jobs units will be better served by hiring folks to do those specific jobs that do excel. Wise choices in staffing camps brings profit or at least revenue the same as good unit service from a DE. No service from a DE because he's playing camp director and doing poorly at it is a lose lose deal. Yet they wonder why FOS numbers are down!

 

A neighbor council has a I believe senior DE serve as CD and they hire qualified PD's and a business manager for each camp. They do not have problems it seems filling their camps.

 

Councils would IMHO be much better served to start providing a quality experience for camps with good quality staff that they pay fairly. Do that and you would see a return to the days of waiting lists of OA members wanting to serve. There would likely no longer be a need to hire teen and young adult women to staff our camps. I mentioned this to my DE who was to be this years CD. His answer was that there is no way they could afford to do that. I replied that is the problem with the pros; don't tell me there is no way, find the way to do it. He has since found other employment. Sheesh need to train another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WWW

 

"and you would see the day when OA members would be on a list wanting to help out at camp." All I can say to that is what planet are you from dude. The OA has been on a even more rapid decline in active membership than the boy scouts for at least 20 years now, the reason I hear from the boys is that "it is BORING, all we ever do is go work at camp twice a year, the lodge meetings are a waste, and I am tired of playing Indian, it just isn't any fun." So don't blame the camp WWW blame the OA for not keeping pace with the changes of the youth of today. In my council the pros were CD for one reason, only they had the authority to spend the money when needed to fix or resupply the camp when an emergency came up, the SE would not give that authority to any temporary camp staff because of some severe abuses that had occured in prior years.

 

To answer Eamonns objections you do not need three months to plan fall recruitment, events, and FOS if you have a decent district committee in place, and they all do their jobs, none of the districts in my council were ever left feeling abandoned. We met every other week when we would be relieved at camp for a few days so we could do district work. It sounds to me Eamonn you have some real issues with your own committee not your DE. No decent council camp is going to trust a $10 an hour employee with approving an expenditure in the hundreds or thousands of dollars in an emergency, or other serious issues that come up every year at camp, no matter what you may think.

 

You guys really need to get a grip on the reality of the world of summer camp. By the way my current council runs their two camps exactly the same way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup BadenP you are so right I should just withdraw my opinion. No reason to try anything new. No reason to hire quality people to staff our camps. Parents and Scouts will just keep going elsewhere and paying much higher prices. Have you priced sports camps? They have those for grade school kids. I do not think anyone was advocating someone making $10 an hour making multi thousand dollar decisions, not sure where that was coming from. The OA may be in sharp decline but I see more youth at our Conclave than I did 30 years ago and the section is smaller, has fewer lodges. OA membership has peaks and valleys as does every thing else. Why play the blame game at all? How about just fixing it! To me that includes paying youth staff a reasonable wage for their service.

 

The facts are in my council using DE's for camp staff jobs has resulted in less service to units. I do not see this helping to fill camps or increase FOS contributions. I think it has resulted in a net loss when compared to hiring outside folks to do those jobs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WWW

 

You have totally misinterpreted my post I agree staff should be paid well, unfortunately most councils are not in a financial position to do so without raising the fees through the roof. No SE is going to allow a temporary camp staff member to make the big money decisions at camp no matter what you think, that is just the reality of how business is done.

 

I am glad the OA in your area is doing well however that does not seem to be the case in most other areas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×