Every year we take our 5th & 6th Graders up to summer camp at Forest Home. It’s a great camp where our kids have fun, connect relationally, and grow spiritually.
A few years ago we started to notice our counselors were having a hard time staying energized and engaged with the games and activities at camp. We asked them about it afterwards and many of them agreed with us. They couldn’t put their finger on it exactly but we knew we had to do something or we weren’t going to have counselors for our kids next summer.
After camp I was in a meeting with our kids and student ministries teams debriefing everyone’s camp experiences. Our student ministry team started talking about how it was one of their best camps every. They shared how their counselors were super energized to connect with their kids and engaged in all the activities that were happening at camp.
This peaked my interest. I asked them how they got their counselors to stay so dialed in to what was going on. What they shared next changed the way we do summer camp for the better.
They said they started having deans for each of their counselors. Just like a counselor was in charge of leading and caring for a cabin of kids one of their deans was in charge of leading and caring for a group of counselors. The counselors were there for their kids. The deans were there for the counselors. And the point person was there for the deans.
In that moment I knew exactly what we needed to do.
In order to make camp a great experience for everyone we needed to have counselors for our counselors.
Our counselors were getting burned out. They had to shoulder the load for camp without anyone there to help them do it. The heat and the activities and the sleepless nights were taking a toll on them throughout the week. They needed someone to help them like they were trying to help their kids.
So the next year we set up our own dean system and it’s really turned things around for our summer camps. We have a much higher retention and enjoyment rate for counselors because we have counselors for them. And when are counselors started being more enthusiastic so were our kids.