One of the most important parts of each summer is getting our camp staff ready to create vibrant, safe, spiritual communities of growth. In Pre Camp, directors and their staff work to create a strong community were everyone feels that his or her voice and contributions are crucial for the summer’s success. They also need to have many skills in conflict resolution, behavior management and creative program planning. We help them plan to meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual sides of all the campers. Important diversity training and understanding is also crucial for this work. This happens with many meetings, games, trips (to bond and practice skills), the physical act of setting up camp and time for meeting for worship and reflection. By the end of pre-camp, the new folks feel much more connected and everyone is excited for campers to arrive.
Over the years we have honed Skills Week, which happens just prior to Pre Camp. It has proved a real gift as it brings the staff of all camps together to learn hard skills, and grow as a greater camping community. We rotate between certifying our staff in Red Cross Lifeguarding, American Canoe Association Whitewater Instructor training, and SOLO Wilderness First Aid. We offer CPR and First Aid every year as well. In addition, all of our Rock Climbing Instructors must attend EarthTreks Instructor Trainings and pass very difficult exams every 3 years.
As someone who helped train our staff in CPR and lifeguarding for many years, I can attest to the power of these trainings. Our counselors take their jobs so seriously that it is never a problem for them to take these certifications seriously as well. They often want to go more in depth than the actual program requires. We appreciate all the counselors and staff who put in this extra time each summer to make certain that every unit which hits the trail has staff trained in a myriad of ways to keep the whole group safe. We have done a great job balancing the serious and sometimes stressful atmosphere of passing certifications with a warm, Quaker environment where we are building community as we learn. Everyone should be so lucky to get these important certifications in such a loving environment!