Staff Training is Preparing Us for the Best Summer Ever!

Everyone knows that all summer long we say it’s the “Best summer ever.” Well, this year we clearly have one of the most dedicated, kindest group of staff you will ever find.  The old-timers keep coming up to us remarking on how the new staff are just such good people and fit in so well.  The new staff are saying how easy it is to integrate with the old.  To be honest, this is often the case, but this year it’s at a whole new level and we are so excited!

Once again, discussions in pre-camp have covered everything from how to create a culture of respect to sessions on bullying, inclusion, homesickness, first-aid training, health and wellness, risk management, rules, policies, emergency procedures, supervision, leadership, programming, activity scheduling, team building, staff role modeling, how to instill gratitude in children, safe play, what makes an exceptional counsellor, discipline versus punishment, the value of canoe tripping, typical behavior and expectations of campers, as well as about fifteen other topics.

Each year we also emphasize a few areas and so we concentrated a little more on counsellor training with respect to raising your voice, getting frustrated, as well as challenges with today’s youth in respect to mental illness and of course anxiety.

Our session on role modelling, really hit home when we played examples of typical music that kids listen to today and the challenges we have with what is permitted in daily life.

Mike Levinsky was our guest speaker this year. He did an interactive session on positive reinforcement.  He showed in a humorous, but meaningful session that if you ask someone to do a simple task in a positive way, it takes two minutes to complete, but if you ask in a negative way it takes six or seven.  He also did a “tableau” role play workshop teaching staff not to label their campers and look for the best in all of them. The staff said it was one of the highlights of their staff training! Mike also had the entire staff dancing with fun routines illustrating how you can make any task fun for your kids, even cleaning up!

Tuesday at Manitou featured an incredible day of professional development. First-Aid training was spearheaded by Shendy’s own Eric Shendleman, who spent the day on First-Aid and CPR. Then the fun truly began with Sandy Foster, who once again did an incredible session about how not to just accept a good idea or program, but to challenge yourself to take it to the next level.

We could go on forever, but let us end off with some wonderful words from a long time staff member who spoke to our staff team and said this:

This summer will be my tenth year at Manitou. Over my first nine years I have been to camp for a total of 12 months, an entire year. This year of my life has been the most important and significant in developing as a person and becoming a leader at camp and back home…Being a staff member is very different than being a camper.  As a camper you basically only worry about triple tuck and getting basketball and ski on your schedule.  Things change when you become a staff member. You develop a leadership role at camp and are in charge of delivering the campers the summer of their lives.  Being a camper is fun but being a staff member is rewarding.  Seeing the growth and happiness of your campers is what makes your summer and theirs that much better.

For the first year staff it’s a hard and quick transition to make but as the closet people in age to the campers, it’s important to reason with the kids, build connections with them and develop trust through friendship. For the new staff members, camp is nothing you would expect.  Bring whatever leadership traits and positivity you have to camp.  Furthermore, there is a need for respect and trust in order to do a good job.  As well, your cos, fellow staff, Unit heads and head staff will help you transition and succeed on the job.   You will make the best friends in the cabin with your new cos and campers that will last forever.

To me, Camp gets better every year… And as staff members it’s important that we all give the kids the summer we had when we were campers and go home with no regrets on doing so.

How we could have the most positive beginning to camp after our eight days of pre camp training is actually remarkable considering we have had the worst weather since we started 19 years ago.  The good news is that this staff appear to be so resilient, as nothing gets in their way.

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