When I was in the Air Force I had a supervisor who took on the risky task of eliminating unnecessary paperwork. Like any giant, government bureaucracy, the Air Force had seemingly endless requirements for people to complete and submit paperwork. After years of dutifully complying, my boss finally reached his breaking point. He began a strategy of not submitting anything he thought was useless. If he later received a request for information that would have been in paperwork he should have submitted, he'd apologize for his lateness, and submit the paperwork. What was astounding was how often he didn't submit a form or report and no one said anything, ever. Clearly there was little, if any, value in the paperwork no one missed.
All too often, when problems occur, leaders create paperwork methods (forms, reports, etc.) to solve the immediate issue and prevent future recurrence. Unfortunately, over time, while the need may go away, the paperwork routine doesn't. The cumulative effect can be to create an administrative burden that adds little value.
Try this simple exercise to help eliminate unnecessary paperwork. Every time you or someone at your camp fills out a form or does a report ask these questions:
1. How does this add value for the camper? If it doesn't why do we do it?
2. How does this increase our productivity or effectiveness? If it doesn't why do we do it?
3. Does completing this improve staff morale? If it doesn't why do we do it?
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.