Dear Summer Camp Leaders, I Am Proud Of You…

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I write this post with a heavy heart. To our Summer Camp leaders, I am proud of you. This is an extremely tough time personally and professionally for all of us. We have our own families, friends, and loved ones we are taking care of. Many of you may have already been serving essential workers and their families and have experience serving kids during COVID-19. Yet, you are still moving forward each day looking for ways to inspire and lead your team. You are planning new virtual staff trainings and thinking of ways to modify your programming so you can safely connect with your staff and kids to serve your community. Camp staff are creatures of habit, and it is hard to think or be wired differently when you have done this Summer after Summer. As Camp Leaders, we have our systems, and we run with it. This isn’t the case this Summer. We have guidelines and protocols to follow, but honestly we are all entering uncharted territory. So are the kids you are serving. They don’t know how to social distance and you will be role modeling this each and everyday. Don’t underestimate the power of that. These kids will be getting ready to go back to school, and you have the unique opportunity to get them ready for school and public places. I never even said social distancing until 2 months ago, so we as adults are also learning and teaching each week as you receive new campers or staff. You will be cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning. This will show your participants and community that you are keeping your programs as safe as possible. Thank you for being a servant leader. At camp, we get close to each other, that’s what we have always done. We pack in for fun assemblies to see that counselor get pied in the face, we dance and scream to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, and we high five each other and side hug. You will create these moments in smaller spaces, but you still create the moments. That is critical! You will come up with ideas this Summer, that will be better than Summer 2019 or any Summer you have worked. Innovation and creativity is always happening. The world has changed, but you know that these kids need you now more than ever, and Summer Camp will always be important to the social and emotional well being of the participants you serve.

This will be my first time in my career part time and full time (1999) that I will miss either leading camp training or being a participant. THAT SUCKS. This Summer, you will miss seeing that staff member learn that new song or game, or when that staff member’s face lights up because they tried something new like public speaking in front of a large group. THAT SUCKS. You will miss gathering your leadership staff and doing team building and having that important time to connect face to face. THAT SUCKS. It is OK to feel angry or frustrated with what is happening or that Summer 2020 staff training isn’t the same. Share that with your staff, let them know you are human and build that trust with one another. Let them know that you also can’t live in that emotion either. This Summer is different but you are still going to have fun! You will persevere and move forward. These staff and kids you serve are looking to you for guidance. This new adversity will develop you into an even stronger leader and teammate to your staff. You can bring the positive change. We always tell our staff that we don’t do this for the paycheck, and this is even more true today. You are here to build relationships and make camp a safe and welcoming place for all. What a mission and task! You are truly making this world a better place. There are not many jobs that give you this genuine opportunity or develop real job and life skills like this one. Go make this the best Summer ever! Thank you for your service to these staff and kids and your community thanks you too! Job well done,

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