Tri-State Camp Conference – A Review by First-Time Attendees

As first-time attendees of the Tri-State CAMP Conference, we were thrilled to join over 3,800 camp professionals from around the world in a truly exhilarating and informative experience. From the moment we arrived, we felt a sense of excitement and anticipation that lasted throughout the conference.

On the first day of the conference, we attended several courses, including “It’s All About Week One,” “Train Staff Who Present New Challenges,” “Identifying, Avoiding, and Addressing Staff Toxicity,” and “Planning, Organizing, and Communicating Better,” among others. These sessions were invaluable opportunities to learn from experienced camp professionals and network with other new leaders in the industry.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a CampGroup-sponsored dinner where we met directors and administrators from our family of sleepaway and day camps. It was a great chance to hear about what makes our camps successful and memorable.

The conference began with an inspiring opening keynote address that led to the grand opening of the exhibit hall. The exhibit hall was a highlight for us, as we were able to connect with vendors and learn about new products, services, and food options that could benefit our camp.

Throughout the conference, there were plenty of networking opportunities, including meet and greets, that allowed us to connect with other camp professionals to share ideas and best practices. On the final day of the conference, we attended additional sessions including one of our favorites-  “Michael’s 25th Tri-State Anniversary Party: Back to Basics,” presented by Michael Brandwein, a favorite of veteran Tri-State attendees.

Overall, attending the Tri-State CAMP Conference was an incredible experience that left us feeling inspired, informed, and energized. We gained a wealth of new knowledge and ideas that we can bring back to Shibley Day Camp. We can’t wait to attend again next year and continue to learn and grow.

Shibley Shibley,

Melissa and Peter


Tri-State Camp Conference Recap

Last week, we attended the Tri-State Camp Conference which was filled with many wonderful and valuable professional development sessions, networking opportunities and a vendor hall packed from wall to wall with camp specific items including equipment for activities, special event enhancements, facility improvements and more!

From Randi:

I started with a session titled “Equipping Staff to Manage Behavior” which was very informative.  Managing camper behavior begins with establishing core values.  We at Shibley have our GREEN values – GENEROSITY, RESPECT, ENDURANCE, EMPATHY AND NUTURE.  When impressing upon the campers to do their best, it is always important to reiterate the values and tell them what our expectations are. Giving campers behavior-specific praise and detailing what they did right is critical for a child’s understanding- “Great job” is nice, but detailing the behavior you witnessed reinforces the desired behavior in the child and their peers. Don’t take for granted that a child or staff member knows why they are being praised.

Since I spend much of my time on staff recruitment and staff training, I also attended sessions titled, “Identifying, Avoiding and Addressing Staff Toxicity” & “Recruit Staff Like Campers.”

Here are some takeaways:

  • Ask the potential employee how they want to be addressed and what their preferred method of communication is (email vs. phone vs. text message).
  • Staff interaction at training is far better than lecture style sessions hour after hour.
  • Giving staff clear expectations is the foundation of training.
  • Staff evaluations are very effective after week 2 and week 5. Do not wait until half the summer is gone to begin these.

At Michael Brandwein’s 25th Anniversary Session, “Back to the Basics” we learned that BRICKS are good but the MORTAR that keeps the bricks together is more important. Bricks are the attractions – our Green Giant, Kid/Car Wash, pools, adventure parks, etc. The mortar is the staff that creates unforgettable experiences and interactions among our campers.

From Hayley:

What a great conference! It’s always great to get together with camp friends from near and far. I went to some informative sessions about staff training and development which are sure to help improve our all-staff orientations. My favorites were titled, “Level Up Your Staff Development-Before, During and After Camp” & “Help Your Staff Turn Stressed Parents to Resilient Parents.” Each year I take away some really great information from amazing camp professionals and youth development professionals that have been doing this for years.

This year my biggest takeaway also came from Michael Brandwein’s 25th Anniversary Session, “Back to the Basics”. The title itself drew me in. Over the last few months, all we have been saying is- we have to get back to basics and keep things simple in staff training. We compiled a list of great activities described by Brandwein to use in our trainings before and throughout the summer. I also really enjoyed a session called, “Fun, Hands-On Cardboard STEM Projects for All Ages and Levels.”

From Danny:

I attended a few sessions focused on how we can improve upon our food service at camp titled, “Food Trends and Allergies in Today’s Campers and Staff” and “Demystifying Special Food Diets”. The focus of these sessions was current food trends and how we can make our dining experience safer for our campers with food allergies and offer more variety to all our campers and staff.

I also enjoyed sessions focused on maintenance and general camp operations including, “Using Today’s Technology to Improve Your Camp and Create New Opportunities with ‘Maintenance Mindsets” at Camp.” Throughout the conference, many camp professionals share their best practices. I took away several new ideas to help our administration team streamline intercamp communications.

The best part of the conference for me is walking through the vendor hall to look for new activities to bring to camp. Many food vendors are there also, and we have the opportunity to taste new snack and lunch items. I found some brand-new snack and lunch options that we will be adding to the camp menu for this upcoming summer.

From Heath:

My main focus at camp is customer service and creating an inclusive, nurturing community for our campers and staff. I really enjoyed the session titled, “Delivering World-Class Customer Experience: Lessons from the Mouse” given by a former Disney employee who now runs a Customer Service consulting company. One of the many topics in his presentation was how we can create daily “wow” moments by doing simple things that take up almost no time at all.

He talked about housekeepers at Disney taking the time to tuck in stuffed animals or prop them up in front of the TV to make it look like they were enjoying themselves while the family was out at a park. This can change the whole end-of-day “vibe” for a family after exiting the park exhausted, with a lot less money then they started with and one day closer to the end of the vacation.

The Keynote was given by Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit.” One part of his presentation that stuck out was the “LATTE” method of receiving feedback. This was developed by Starbucks, as you may have guessed. LATTE stands for: Listen, Acknowledge, Take Action, Thank  & Encourage more feedback. This applies to how we handle feedback of all kinds from children, parents and staff during the summer.

Some other informative sessions I attended were called, “Understand & Plan: Evolving Industry Trends on Sexual Abuse and Prevention”, “5 Lessons I Learned Starting Music Festivals that Made Me a Better Camp Director” and “Applying Best Practices from Corporate America to Camp”.

We all look forward to returning to the conference next March!


Our Staff Can’t Wait for Camp!

We reached out to veteran staff and new staff to see what they were looking forward to this summer. Here are their answers:

One thing I am looking forward to this summer is creating memories for the campers that will hopefully last a lifetime, which is why being a good role model is crucial for these campers.

– Ayaan B.

I can’t wait for the sunshine, the smiles, friendships new and old, and making new connections with all my little friends in Arts and Crafts!!

– Deb L.

I look forward to connecting with old friends who come back year after year (we wait 10 months for 2) & meeting new friends as well!

– Sheri G.

This summer I’m looking forward to making new friends and having an amazing bond with my little campers. I’m looking forward to making these campers happy and all I want is for them have the best experience!

– Ariana G.

I am excited to be outside in nature and to have the opportunity to engage in fun activities with campers.

– Rikki S.

I’m looking forward to having fun with my campers and making new friends.

–Alexa L.

Looking forward to seeing all the happy campers and working with them to ensure they have the best summer ever!!!

–Ali M.

I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making friends and maybe even learning how to swim myself!

– Lacey B.

Teaching the campers new sports!

– Jonathan G.

I am looking forward to the themed dress up days. I love when I can dress up and be silly with my campers. I am also looking forward to Olympics! I can’t believe camp starts in 114 days! Can it come any sooner?!

– Julia K.

This is my first time EVER being at summer camp, so I don’t think I even know what to be excited about! I am looking forward to finding out!

– Laura B.

I am looking forward to being a part of this amazing camp family and creating special bonds with fellow staff members and the campers!

– Anna P.

This summer at Shibley Day Camp I am looking forward to seeing the beautiful faces of my new and old campers! I’m also excited to be in the pool to teach the new campers and to watch my old campers continue to shine in the water.

– Paige T.

I am looking forward to camp because it’s a new opportunity for me and I know I will learn a lot about people and myself.

– Ruben M.

I am looking forward to getting to know the other camp counselors and experiencing the camp activities with the kids!

– new staff member

I am looking forward to having a ton of fun at camp. I’m also looking forward to seeing a lot of friendly faces!

– Melissa B.

I am looking forward to making great memories with the kids this summer!

– Isabel C.

I am most looking forward to becoming a member of the Shibley family. This will be my first summer and I can’t wait to build relationships that may last for many years.

– Mary Ellen T.

I’m looking forward to having my campers and staff to have the summer of their life filled with laughter, joy, and memories!

– Mary A.

The one thing that I am really looking forward to this summer is building a relationship with the campers. Last year was my first year as a camp counselor and the highlight of my day was seeing the smiles on the campers faces.

– Returning Staff Member

This summer I’m looking forward to helping kids and interacting with them in a way that’s both educational and enjoyable for them and me.

– Tremaine F.

I’m looking forward to seeing old camp friends and meeting new people, as well!

– Denise B.

This summer I am looking forward to meeting new people and gaining job experience with children.

– Adaezem U.

I am looking forward to meeting the Shibley staff for the first time and getting to know everyone! I am also so excited to be spending the whole summer outside, having fun with the campers!

– Sam P.

I am so excited to be part of the Shibley family and give kids the amazing experience of CAMP!

– Julie N.

For my first summer at Shibley, I am looking forward to getting to know my fellow campers and counselors.

– Noah S.

I can’t wait to make Shibley memories with my campers.

– Wendy F-P.

I am looking forward to more connections with children and counselors and continuing working at Shibley!!

– Allison R.

I am looking forward to going in the pool and being at Shibley Shibley!

– Jess C.

I am looking forward to seeing all the happy children and working with our Shibley families this summer.

– Grace M.

I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones!

– Eileen M.

I’m looking forward to meeting the kids and having fun with them. I’m super excited for this summer and can’t wait.

– Cathleen J.

Thank you for the opportunity of being part of your wonderful team. I am looking forward to another great summer at Shibley!

– Michaela P.

I am beyond excited to meet the kids I will be helping throughout the summer as well as my fellow coworkers.

– Irina P.

Our family is so excited to be returning to Shibley for our 3rd summer! I can’t wait to be with the Air Bungee Crew again! See you soon Shibley Shibley Summer 2023!

– Marissa M.

I look forward to helping the camper population feel at home.

– Shacan F.

Being exhausted in the best way possible at the end of the day after having nothing but fun with the campers!

– Jon K.

I am looking forward to making the summer the most memorable time for the campers and their families and networking with my peers and colleagues!

– Robin T.

One thing I am looking forward to at the camp is helping the kids learn and try new things.

– Jaeden F.

I’m excited to make new friends and make new memories this summer!

– Adrian G.

One thing I am looking forward to this summer is working with the campers and building relationships with them. I am excited to be a role model for them.

– Tori K.

I’m looking forward to meeting new people and having so much fun together! I can’t wait to see the amazing shows we will put on!!

– Jessica H.

I’m looking forward to working with my team again and welcoming new members onto our Adventure Staff! I can’t wait to see everyone after a long and (not so) cold winter!

– James M.

I am looking forward to meeting friendly faces and participating in fun activities. Most of all I am excited to have a great summer at Shibley!

– Taylor M.