Two developments in the final week of the NFL regular season caught my interest. The Indianapolis Colts lost their 14th game of the season, solidifying their place as the worst team in the league this year. In large part, the Colts struggles are a result of the loss of star quarterback Payton Manning to a season long injury. Following the Colts loss their General Manager was fired. When asked about his termination, the GM commented that he should have had a back up plan in case Manning was hurt.
While the Colts lost their 14th game, the Green Bay Packers won their 15th, placing them at the top of the league. Because they had already clinched their spot in the playoffs, making their final game of the season essentially meaningless, the Packers decided to rest their star quarterback in their final game. The result? The Packers backup quarterback performed brilliantly, broke several decades old records and won the game.
For the Packers, playing without their star quarterback wasn't a problem. In 2011 the Packers won the Super Bowl despite losing a huge number of players to injury over the course of the season. How did they do it? The Packers focus on a concept they refer to as Next Man Up. When a player goes down with an injury they fully expect the next man on their roster to step up and fill in. The Packers plan ahead for these contingencies. They think through ahead of time what to do in case they lose someone. They prepare their backup players to be ready to play. They coach players to fill multiple roles giving them greater flexibility.
As I thought about the Colts and the Packers, I wondered just how prepared we as a camp are for the loss of a key member of our staff. Would we flounder like the Colts or thrive like the Packers? What if the aquatics director has an emergency appendectomy during camp? What if the nurse has a death in the family and needs several weeks off? What if our assistant director is suddenly offered their dream job and decides they have to leave before summer camp is over?
At any point in time all of us as camp directors might lose a key staff member. Are we prepared? Do we have a plan? Are we too reliant on just a few key people? Have we thought through who might fill in for each of our key staff? Have we made sure critical information doesn't just rest with one person? Do we have a strategy for accomplishing key tasks if the person who normally does them can't?Have we trained staff in multiple roles?
Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.