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.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Building Deeper Relationships

So much of what we do at camp revolves around building relationships. We ask our counselors to build relationships with their campers. We ask them to help campers build relationships with other campers. We also know that for our leadership team to be effective, they have to build relationships with our counselors.A concept that is part of the training offered by the Dale Carnegie organization provides a simple but proven model for building deeper relationships.

When we interact with others in an attempt to build relationships, asking questions is essential. Our questions typically fall into three categories.

Factual Questions - These are the routine questions we often ask when we meet someone new. With a staff member these questions might include:
  - Where are you from?
  - Where do you go to school?
  - What are you majoring in? 
  - Have you worked at camp before?
  - How many years have you been coming to this camp?

Causative Questions - These questions explore the reasons behind or the causes for some of the answers to the factual questions. These could include:
  - Have you and your family always lived in ________?
  - How did you decide on that school?
  - What do you hope to do with your major when you graduate?
  - What led you to become a staff member at camp?
  - What brings you back to camp year after year? 

Value-Based Questions - These questions are designed to help us understand the other person's values. Value-based questions might include:
   - How has your family shaped who you are as a person?
   - If you had to do it over again, would you choose the same school? Why/why not?
   - What factors led you to decide on the career path you've chosen?

   - What goals do you hope to achieve by working at camp?
   - How would you describe to others the positive impact the camp has on the lives of people?

To go beyond superficial relationships, we as leaders, and the counselors we lead, need to ask questions that encourage others to open themselves up to us. Using causative and value based questions questions help that process.