4 Ways to Help New Staff Transition into Camp

photo credit Camp Kzoo/Super Rec, MI

New staff will be at camp soon! They have interviewed, filled out forms, packed and travelled in preparation for their summer job.  They may have driven a short distance or have flown across the world to work for you. Are you ready to show them that you appreciate them? 

Here are 4 easy ideas to carry out this summer to ensure that the transition into camp is as easy as possible for new staff. After all, you really couldn’t run their camp without them! Be ready when your staff arrive at camp. 

• Food. Yes, full bellies will help staff transition into camp a little bit easier. At your welcome/sign-in station, offer a light meal or a variety of heavy snacks (fruit, snack bars, cookies) this is both a nice welcoming touch for staff and a smart touch for camp directors.  After a day of travel, new staff will be able to adjust to their new setting without the added challenge of fighting low blood sugar levels.  Put out plenty of water, juices and other drinks too, especially for those staff that may have traveled via plane – no need to be dehydrated before the summer even starts!

• Be sure you have a welcome crew ready to greet new staff as they pull into camp.  Have your greeters all wearing the same color t-shirts or something that clearly identifies them as “go to’s” for new staff.  Assign one returning staff member to every new member as their personal greeter.  Greeters literally meet the new staff member when they get to camp, help them with their bags, and help them settle in. Think of it as a dry-land buddy system.  (For returning staff, it is a super nice touch to have a few staff members around to greet and help with their bags too – everyone loves a welcome wagon!). Your greeters can help new staff members get their “sea legs” faster and feel a bit more confident at camp starting off with at least one personal connection to a veteran staffer.

• Have maps and schedules posted and readily available for new staff when they arrive at camp. You can also email new staff these before they arrive at camp to help reduce day one anxiety. Showing up at a new place, often secluded in the woods, and always with a unique layout, can be overwhelming for anyone; help reduce confusion by providing a road map – literally!  A schedule of events will help new staff understand when and where they need to be and what is expected of them. 

• A personal hello from the camp director will go a long way.  Even if you have hundreds of staff arriving, set up a system in which the director will say a personal hello within the first few hours of the new staff member arriving.  Spreadsheets work here (although we would recommend not letting the new staff see you check them off the list after saying your hello’s). Over 20 years since my first arrival at camp in New Hampshire, I can remember exactly where I was standing when the director shouted out my name and hugged me hello. I was in awe that this woman knew me months after we had spoken on the phone and was genuinely excited to see me. Directors, it may a bit of work to say hello in the first few hours of each staff’s arrival, but the payoff will be priceless. 

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