It’s a Good Thing We Have Camp!

posted: December 21, 2021By:

Greetings Shibley Nation!

Here we all are again facing the start of the new year, hoping 2022 brings us health, prosperity and a bit more normalcy.  Not too many of us are sorry to say goodbye to 2021. For so many, this was another very difficult year, to say the least.

That being said, there were plenty of joyous times as well. For me, Shibley being open this past summer to welcome our campers back on the grounds alongside their counselors was a true blessing. The benefits of camp for children are immeasurable. Socializing and friendship building are some of the greatest benefits we can offer and foster (and one of the most rewarding for us as well!).

Eliminating screen time, getting exercise, and being close to nature adds so much to a child’s personal growth and development.  We offer the children opportunities to do the things they love. Maybe more importantly, they are encouraged to try new things they never thought they could do. Seeing the light bulb go on in the child’s head when they realize they CAN is amazing to witness. It is our hope to create countless wonderful memories that our campers can look back upon, so they can one day share their love for these activities discovered at camp (and for camp itself) with their own children.

There are various ingredients needed to make a great camp and I spend a lot of my time during the off-season searching for THE key ingredient-STAFF!!!!!  Without great people taking care of our campers, well it’s like eating a brownie without chocolate. I am in the midst of interviewing dozens of candidates as the year comes to a close.  I am always very impressed with these candidates as they think ahead of the curve and hope to find a job for the summer earlier than others.  They avoid the potential stress and angst of finding a last minute position when opportunities are few.

I am also in the midst of reconnecting with old staff to discuss a return to Shibley in 2022.  I love connecting with this population.  It’s especially exciting to hear from staff who are in the midst of their freshman year of college, and see how they are doing and how much they have grown. I recently reached out to a family who sent multiple children to Shibley as campers.  One of the children returned last year as a first year counselor.

My initial call was about a younger sibling returning to camp, not the staff member.  However, mom and I found ourselves talking about the tremendous growth she saw in her son during this experience.  She saw her son grow in ways she never thought possible.  Mom went on and on about the benefits of camp for young adults who take on the role of counselor.  This counselor struggled at first, privately sharing with me he was not sure he would make it through the summer. “Working with kids and taking care of them is really hard work,” he shared with me as we passed each other on the grounds.  But every day I noticed slight changes in this counselor’s demeanor.

At first, he followed the group and took complete direction from his supervisor.  As the days went on, I saw him talking with his campers, then truly engaging with them in an animated manner. Towards the end of camp, this counselor took initiative and gave direction to his campers, encouraged positive behaviors and created great friendships with his boys. He truly became a rock star and a fabulous role model.  I am happy to report that this counselor is returning in 2022!

I end many of my interviews with an idea I believe to be true-I can have a camp that has all the bells and whistles but ultimately if this child’s counselor is lackluster, then all the bells and whistles in the world can’t make the camp experience extraordinary.  A counselor who is exciting, funny, creative and engaging can make a pile of dirt fun and use it to create memorable experiences that foster lifelong relationships.

As I said before, I am interviewing now and plan to assemble and hire the greatest staff ever.  We can always do better!  If you have any candidates in mind, please encourage them to fill out a staff application on our website and I will happily reach back out and invite them for a great conversation and a tour of the grounds. I always like to make new friends!!!

Wishing you all happy holidays and an amazing year ahead filled with love, joy, health and happiness.