People often ask me “So you’re a summer Camp Director, what do you do the rest of the year?” My standard answer is usually “as little as possible”. All jokes aside, the reality is that from the moment one summer ends until the next begins, there is so much to do. Imagine recruiting almost 600 campers, hiring over 100 staff members, hosting around 5,000 retreat participants, and raising much needed donations each year. If this seems like a lot to you, these are just a few of our favorite things, but our to-do list during the “off-season” is much more than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Now, I’d like to share with you what we do in October when we’re not sitting under the sukkah.
First, we carefully examine all of the summer evaluations. Beginning with the knowledge that we are, of course, imperfect and always have room to grow allows us to chuck our egos aside and begin the process of addressing the concerns & issues creating a plan to make Camp better. Each summer, we utilize a professional camper survey, staff survey, staff informal evaluations, and other forms of feedback at camp in order to gather valuable feedback.
After reading, digesting, and discussing, we make a list of changes that will improve Camp. One of the items at the top of our list this year was to make camp longer. We are moving forward for summer 2016 and have added an extra day to camp. The top three elements which have influenced this change include:
1. Creating a more peaceful and meaningful last Shabbat of camp. Last year, the final Shabbat of each session was compromised due to packing, cleaning, and prep for closing day, which must all be done before Sunday morning pickup.
2. Banquet, which previously occurred Thursday nights, will once again be celebrated on the last night of Camp.
3. We hope that families will no longer pick up their kids and race out of Camp, but instead enjoy the last day celebration because the last day will be on a Monday and they will no longer need to worry about Sunday traffic.
We get good feedback from our campers, parents, and staff and plan to share the results of the summer surveys with them. We will also outline intended changes for next summer based on the feedback received. Over the years, I have learned the value of keeping camp traditions and finding the root cause of issues in order to fix the cause instead of creating short-term solutions for each problem. This a small taste of what I do the rest of the year. I can say with 100% certainty that even though the summer just ended, I am ready for what next summer brings!