What It’s Like to Work at Camp

It is a true joy spending the summers of my life working at a summer camp. The challenges and rewards of working with children and making lifelong positive impressions and memories on a younger generation are enormous. To this end, there are many layers involved in creating our camp community. Many of these layers include marketing, programming, upgrading our campgrounds, recruiting, and hiring the most talented staff out there. While the summer season is 8 weeks, it takes the other 10 months of the year to plan every day of the summer.

During the off season, I spend a lot of my time recruiting new staff as well as communicating with seasonal staff that will return for another summer. Staff members who are able to return for another summer understand the magical nature of our community and the benefits of working with children in our beautiful shaded outdoor environment. In my interviews with new recruits, who never experienced camp as a child, I always get the same question: “what it is like to work at camp?” I enjoy sharing many of my own fond experiences along with those of my colleagues.

Make no mistake, working at summer camp is a very hard job. At the end of the day, you are often exhausted and sometimes frustrated. In my experience, I’ve learned that if you allow yourself to put everything you have into each day, it doesn’t feel like a job at all. Rather, you come to realize that you have found yourself a second home. You will spend your day with children, co-counselors and experienced supervisors laughing, learning and bonding together. Everyone will enjoy their usual favorite activities, but the reward of exposing the children to new and exciting activities is exhilarating. Helping a child realize they can do something they never believed they could accomplish is an extraordinary feeling.

You are going to get very close with your campers and take on the role of big brother or big sister; you become their role model. If you’re really great, you’ll feel like a rock star, who is greeted daily with much love, excitement, and a million questions. “What are we doing today?” “What is the snack of the day?” “Is Adventure Park on the schedule?!” “Can we go to Arts & Crafts for lanyard?”

During lunch, you will ensure your kids are refueling and hydrating amidst the giggles and chatter. When it’s pool time, you will help them apply suntan lotion and change into bathing suits. For your younger campers, you will tie their shoelaces at least six times a day, singing a catchy tune along the way. You will also find yourself at the “lost and found,” where inevitably your campers have misplaced their precious “things” that you warned them not to bring to camp in the first place. Your patience will be tested multiple times daily! When they excel at an activity, you will cheer their name and celebrate alongside them. At the same token, you will empathize with their hardships and guide them through disappointing moments when they’re struggling.

Friendship is such a significant puzzle piece to the summer camp experience. You will help foster relationships among each of your campers. While some children are born with the gift of making friends easily, others are not and will need your help. A camp friend is priceless and insurmountable to other friendships we have. It has always been my goal to have campers make one meaningful bond that lasts well beyond the two months we are physically together at camp.

You will sing and laugh with your campers and co-counselors as you walk from activity to activity. You’ll find yourself singing these tunes, even when you are alone. You’ll comfort your campers and dry their tears when they scrape their knees or find out they haven’t been chosen to be the lead in the camp play. You will channel your inner patience as you mediate arguments among campers. Most importantly, your job is to create an aura of comradery by sharing the positive values your camp holds dear.

Spending every moment of the day with your co-workers lends itself to discovering the small things that make them who they are. It is only natural to develop these unique bonds at an expedited pace and feel as if you have known your co-counselors for far longer. All of a sudden, you’ll realize that you too have made meaningful relationships that continue long after camp ends. This is the magic of summer camp.


Happy New Year from Randi!

Happy & Healthy New Year to our Shibley Family!!!!!!!!!!!!

While I am sure many of us are eager to leave 2020 behind us, I feel it’s important to try and focus on the positive when we can…even though that can be especially tough to do right now. This year came with many highs and lows, but my bright spot was savoring extra time spent with my family and for that, I am grateful. Looking ahead to 2021, I am hopeful that we collectively continue to take the necessary COVID precautions, stay safe, and make our way towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was truly wonderful seeing so many familiar faces at our Zoom Holiday Party with Mainstages. I had so much fun playing Holiday Trivia, hearing your voices, dancing with you and making a snowman! We’re so lucky to have partnered with Mainstages, as they bring such a strong sense of liveliness, silliness and creativity to our events together. While we still cannot be together in person, it’s so great to have such engaging and interactive virtual events to feel that sense of Shibley unity and love. I noticed many of you on the other end of your screens had brothers, sisters, or parents participating in the fun- I loved seeing your teamwork! My daughter, Mariel, spent her Winter Break at home with us, so it was great to be able to play with her by my side.

We are planning more Zoom get-togethers to keep the momentum going until the Springtime when we hope to be able to get together in person once again.   Please mark your calendars for our next Zoom event- Saturday, January 9th @ 5:00 PM. Our new Junior Camp Director, Hayley, will be hosting story time for our campers. While this event is built around our junior campers, who doesn’t love a good read-aloud?! I know I will be there, ready to see your faces and listen to a great story or two. Maybe we can wear our cozy pajamas, bring a favorite stuffed animal, and dunk some cookies in milk as Hayley reads.

As 2021 begins, I am filled with hope and inspiration. We will take all that we’ve learned from 2020 with us, and prepare for an incredible summer.  Wishing you all a healthy happy start to the year-Stay safe and be well!

Bob’s Favorite Holiday Time Jokes

  • What does a snowman eat for breakfast?
    • Frosted Flakes
  • What do Santa’s elves learn in school?
    • The Elf abet
  • Why do mummies like the holidays?
    • Because of all the wrapping
  • Why did the holiday tree go to the barber?
    • It needed to be trimmed
  • When does New Year’s Day come before Chanukah / Christmas?
    • Every year
  • What do you get from a cow at the North Pole?
    • Ice Cream
  • What does Santa like to do in the garden?
    • Hoe, Hoe, Hoe
  • Why did the dog cross the road twice?
    • He was trying to fetch a boomerang
  • What is big as an elephant but weighs nothing?
    • His shadow
  • Which day do fish hate?
    • Fry day
  • What falls but never gets hurt?
    • Snow
  • What do you call a bear with no teeth?
    • A gummy bear
  • Where does an elephant pack his luggage?
    • In his trunk
  • What do you call a snowman in July?
    • A puddle
  • Why are gulls named seagulls?
    • Because if they were by the bay they would be bagels
  • What did Jack Frost say to Frosty the Snowman?
    • Have an ice day
  • What do you get from a cow in a tornado?
    • A milk shake
  • Why did the students study in an airplane?
    • Because they wanted higher grades
  • Why does a dog wag its tail?
    • Because there is no one else to wag it for him
  • What kind of ball doesn’t bounce?
    • A snowball
  • What is a parent’s favorite holiday song?
    • Silent night

Day Camp & COVID – What Worked & What’s Ahead

Last week we published a blog by Randi which talked about making difficult decisions and gave great advice on how to go about weighing your options when these moments arise. For all of us, the last eight months have been filled with many difficult decisions and there will be more to come as we navigate through the winter.

Our team has worked (and continues to work) with colleagues across the industry, medical professionals and other experts in the field of children’s health. Camps that operated in 2020 were successful largely thanks to the collaborative nature of our industry and its leadership.

Last Summer:

For Summer 2020 we ran Shibley Lite, a modified version of our typical day camp. The parents and children had a wonderful experience with positive feedback flowing in from the moment we started.

The heroes (as they are every summer, but especially this past summer) were our staff. They were reliable, responsible, vigilant and honest when it came to communicating about health and safety.

We made it very clear that their health and safety were equally as important as that of our campers. We were clear during orientation that this summer would be different and difficult in many ways.

Safety Protocol & Modifications -Shibley Lite 2020 -CLICK TO VIEW

One of the most important decisions we made was to have a specific person as our COVID point of contact at camp. She set up testing options for staff and parents. She communicated directly and often with staff and parents of campers who showed symptoms or missed camp based on our daily health screenings. She worked closely with our nurses and oversaw the expanded health center and specific protocol for seeing campers. She was available throughout the day to assist staff, parents and campers who had questions about health and safety.

Having one person dedicated to all of this was operationally efficient and successful. It gave the parents and staff a sense of comfort because they received consistent and clear communication leading up to and throughout the summer. (Thank you Ashleigh!)

Looking forward to Summer 2021:

Our fingers are crossed and we are optimistic that Summer 2021 will look more like Summer 2019 than Summer 2020. However, at this time we are planning for a variety of scenarios based on the state of the virus in our area. It is possible that we will have capacity limitations and restrictions on group sizes as we did last summer. However we do expect:

  • Our usual and exceptional summer camp program with a full slate of athletics, arts & adventure.
  • Daily American Red Cross Swim Instruction for all campers.
  • Full day (9am to 4pm) for all campers. Mini day option (9am to 2pm) for Nursery, Pre-k and Kindergarten campers.

***We also expect to have bus service, hot lunch, snacks and towels for all staff and campers. Specific details on these items will be communicated in the early spring. We are very optimistic.

What’s going to determine what camp looks like next summer?

YOU! No pressure:) Okay, ALL OF US, not YOU. We implore our Shibley community (AND EVERYONE!!!) to wear masks, socially distance and continue to vigilantly wash hands throughout the day. If we are asked to stay inside for a month or so during the winter…let’s do it! If we work together we can get through this difficult winter and have a summer and camp season to remember in 2021.

We are here and available to discuss camp at any time!


Danny’s Thanksgiving Feast Includes…

In our house we like to eat!

Since March we have been cooking our way through an Alex Guarnaschelli cookbook. We have learned that she likes to cook with spice and lots of salt! And everyone in our house loves to cook.

During the year our dinners revolve around the main course but on Thanksgiving the turkey takes a back seat to all the sides. We talked about not making a turkey this year, but then remembered that we will need the turkey fat in order to make gravy (an absolute must have). This year we will not be celebrating with our extended family, but instead just making dinner for the 4 of us. This has not changed our plan on what we will be making and eating. Leftovers are always welcome.

Things we MUST have at Thanksgiving dinner:

Warm Butternut Squash & Cheddar Dip: CLICK FOR RECIPE

This dip is great all winter long!

Artichoke, Sausage, & Parmesan cheese stuffing: CLICK FOR RECIPE

My kids love to take the leftover stuffing and press it in the waffle maker. Making a delicious stuffing waffle, with a perfect fired egg on top.


This is really the only reason to roast a turkey.

Corn Pudding

This recipe came from a friend of mine and we have been making it for 20 years. It is so simple yet so delicious.


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can whole corn kernels (drained)
  • 1 box jiffy corn muffin mix


  • Heat oven to 350
  • Cut butter into small pieces
  • Beat egg
  • Combine and mix all ingredients and pour into a greased baking dish
  • Bake for 1 hour (until golden brown on top)

Please let us know if you have any must haves at your Thanksgiving table and if you try any of these recipes. We wish you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!