Summer camp has come to a close. The campers have gone home. The staff have cleaned the camp and headed home. What now?
For many years my first thought was to get away from camp. Take a vacation. Go someplace where I could forget about the summer and just relax. A number of years ago I left the day after camp and went to Germany for two weeks. No cell phone, no e-mail, no contact with camp. I was able to forget about the struggles and challenges of summer. It was a wonderful time of relaxation and rest.
Unfortunately, what I discovered was that with time, particularly away from camp, the issues I faced at camp began to fade from memory. With each passing day it was harder to recall those moments during the summer when I said "we have to change _____ next summer." The small issues from weeks of working with campers and staff 24/7 became less urgent.
Over the past several years I've forced myself to take a different approach to my immediate post camp schedule. Instead of getting away, both physically and mentally, I try to revisit the summer in as much depth as possible. I reflect on the daily details of how camp ran. What worked, what didn't? What decisions did I make, both good and bad? How did I lead and how did the staff respond? My goal is to capture as much detail as possible so I and the camp can learn from the summer. I don't want issues, no matter how small to get lost and go unaddressed.
Once I have an opportunity to reflect on the summer and gather those thoughts I'm then ready for a time away. It's even more restful now because I know I've processed the summer, gathered the lessons learned and positioned myself to begin preparing for next summer.
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.