Building Blocks of an Amazing Camp Experience
As the snow begins to pile up at camp, we begin the process of assembling the elements of our staff for the upcoming summer. Counting a fairly high staff return rate (over 50%) allows us to enjoy continuity and strength in our mission and feel confident that the grand majority of our counselors care deeply about youth development and understand the value of a Winnebago summer.
Building upon the blocks of our returning staff, a new group of Winnebago alumni annually joins the staff ranks and we are happy that we will have another strong group of returning alumni in 2018. Understanding camp from a camper perspective and then spending four years away from camp (counselors must be 19 years old or completed one year of college), alumni staff have a unique perspective on camp that helps inform their work and their colleagues in a variety of ways. During our week-long Staff and Leadership Training (SALT), alumni staff help their peers understand the lessons they learned from former counselors, ways in which successful counselors cultivated meaningful relationships, and how counselors can create an atmosphere of trust and safety so campers can more easily stretch their comfort zones in order to grow.
Camp is not only for the campers. Being a counselor at Camp Winnebago is personally rewarding and provides valuable experience that can be parlayed into giving staff a leg up when they enter the world of full time employment. Being a counselor involves consistent decision-making and leadership opportunities, conflict resolution, listening, planning, and working with a large group of people in a constantly changing landscape. During SALT, we teach real world skills including: effective communication, lesson planning, group dynamics and problem solving. During the summer we augment that learning and support our staff with a 360-evaluation process, weekly staff meetings and on the job training. The skill sets developed as camp counselors are consistently lauded by business leaders as invaluable in creating high functioning employees and future leaders.
By recruiting, hiring and training intelligent, thoughtful and hardworking individuals to be Winnebago counselors, we create an atmosphere where campers enjoy enriching experiences, build skills and enjoy relationships that last a lifetime. And, in becoming amazing counselors, our staff develops skills that in turn help them gain a leg up in their burgeoning careers.
The Summer of the Elements, it is truly elemental!