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.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Planning Staff Training: Job Analysis

After defining the overall goals of training (see Defining Goals), the second step in creating an effective staff training program is identifying what tasks you want your staff to be able to accomplish. This step is called job analysis. Each job at summer camp is a collection of tasks. By identifying what those tasks are you can ensure you’re teaching the staff member what they need to succeed in their position.

A task is an activity which is one part of accomplishing an assignment or job. Inspecting an archery bow would be a task that is part of the job of supervising an archery range. Conducting a swim skills check would be an example of a task associated with the job of being a lifeguard.

For most summer camp jobs the list of tasks in quite long. Take for instance the job of a counselor. If you brainstormed what tasks a counselor does you might develop a list that includes some of the tasks listed below:

 Counselor Tasks
Get campers to wake up
Get campers to scheduled activities/events
Supervise mealtime at table
Supervise cabin clean up
Set expectations for camper behavior
Handle inappropriate behavior
Recognize positive behavior
Recognize signs that campers are struggling with personal issues
Promote inclusion of all campers in group
Promote teamwork in group
Build interpersonal relationship with campers
Respond to campers’ homesickness
Handle campers’ illnesses
Lead group discussions
Lead small group games
Ensure campers take care of personal hygiene
Make sure campers follow safety rules

The best source for developing a list of tasks are the staff members who actually do the job. You can get a group together to brainstorm or have several individual staff members create lists. Whatever method is used the goal is to create as comprehensive a list as possible covering every aspect of the job.  

Once you get the list(s) from your staff you should review them to make sure each task is clearly defined so that everyone understands what it is. Tasks should be defined in terms of specific behaviors. A task like leading small group games is very clearly defined.

On the other hand, promoting group teamwork is a pretty general definition that could be open to a variety of interpretations. In this case you would want to go back to those who generated the list and try to get a clearer picture of what the task entails. You would ask the question “what specifically would a counselor promoting teamwork in a group be doing”?  The answers should give you a clearer sense of the actual tasks involved in promoting group teamwork.

The list of tasks that come from your job analysis will focus for your training on what is most critical to teach. The actual content and methods developed to deliver the training will revolve around them. 

 (Note: This is the second in a series of posts that will be published in the coming weeks to provide an overview of a systematic approach to developing summer camp staff training.)