The Essence of a Positive Camp Culture

by Norman E. Friedman, M. Ed.

The culture of a camp is essential to evaluate on a regular basis. Is it noticeably and measurably acceptable or does it need help and/or remediation?

Ask yourself the following ten questions:

  1. Have I clearly stated exactly what my beliefs, values, goals, expectations, and boundaries are for campers and staff?
  2. Do returning staff instruct new staff on inappropriate behaviors when and if they observe them?
  3. Do returning staff bring to my attention any and all behaviors of any staff that are inappropriate both at camp and during time and days off?
  4. Can all staff verbalize, if asked, what makes my camp special?
  5. Do I utilize returning staff during orientation and training to teach new staff what is expected of them and to explain consequences for non-compliance?
  6. Am I satisfied that staff members are loyal to campers and to me and not to each other?
  7. Do I spend focused time with staff reviewing culture components and making assessments of our collective progress?
  8. Do staff act appropriately on time away from camp and understand their responsibilities as my representative at all times?
  9. Am I aware of existing negative traditions and am I actively eliminating staff responsible for perpetuating inappropriate actions and behaviors?
  10. Do staff members verbalize positive feelings about the culture of my camp and take pride in what they do to keep it as I want it to be?

Contributed by Norman E. Friedman, M. Ed., dean — Gene Ezersky Camp Safety College and director of AMSkier Partners, Hawley, Pennsylvania. Contact the author at normanf@ amskier.com, 800-245-2666.

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