The importance of properly trained camp staff can't be overstated. After all, parents are putting their trust in your staff to keep their children happy and safe — and that's not a responsibility to take lightly. 

COVID-19 has undoubtedly created difficulties when it comes to making sure your staff is fully trained before they join the campers on-site, but with the help of online summer camp tools and the right technology to bring your staff up to speed, you should have no trouble. 

Here are five ways to effectively train summer camp staff during COVID-19. 

1. Have a Virtual "Retreat"

A great way for your staff to meet and get acquainted with each other during normal times is to hold a group retreat. Unfortunately, during COVID, any unnecessary large gatherings might be restricted. If that's the case, a virtual retreat can still create the same energy at a safe distance. 

There are a number of virtual conferencing platforms that can be specialized for retreats, so even if your staff isn't all in the same room, they can try some virtual team icebreakers, have breakout sessions, and even play games! 

Your virtual retreat can be the first step to introducing your staff to your online training program. You can use a portion of this time to go over all the resources available to them and take any questions about the training process.

2. Set up an Internal Learning Hub

A good first step to take on your path to getting your staff trained is creating a place to house all the information they'll need. It's incredibly useful to set up an online learning hub with a library of documents for your staff to use throughout the training period and beyond. 

If the camp's policies, various forms, and important contact information are all in one convenient place, there's little room for confusion. The resources in the hub can cover everything from general information about the camp's facilities to more detailed instructions like steps to take if a camper gets injured or falls ill. 

If you arm your staff with the resources they need to do their job, you'll ensure that your camp will run smoothly and require less involvement from the management team. 

3. Require Online Training and Certifications

How can you be sure your staff has the knowledge they need to get the job done? Even after setting up an internal learning hub, you want to know that everyone has completed their skills training. It's also a plus to be able to boast your staff's credentials to your campers. 

Normally, you may require certifications like CPR be acquired via an in-person class, but the American Red Cross conveniently offers online courses with a certified instructor. You can also require your staff to complete conflict resolution workshops via sites like The National Conflict Resolution Center, or you can get a subscription to a workplace training service like Trainual

If you know of trained experts who can host virtual training sessions specifically for your camp staff — even better! After your employees complete their courses, make sure to give them a virtual certificate for their accomplishments.

4. Schedule Recurring Staff Meetings

Weekly staff meetings can sometimes feel like a chore, but during the weeks or months leading up to your camp's opening, they can definitely be beneficial. 

Set up recurring meetings, either biweekly or weekly, to check in with your staffers on how their online training is going and whether they have any specific questions. This meeting can be established as virtual "office hours," to chat with camp management on an as-needed basis, or it can be required. 

It's helpful to be up front with your staff if the training meetings will be required. Also, make sure to pay your workers for any time they put in prior to clocking in at the camp. And don't forget to make sure each meeting has an agenda to keep you on track.

5. Check in with Online Forms

One common reason employees at any job aren't able to perform their duties is lack of oversight on the part of management. How can you know if your staff is struggling with something if you're not regularly checking their comfort level? 

Here's where online forms can help. Creating a weekly check-in form that allows your staff to sum up how the week went, anything they're unsure about, or what they think could be improved is a great help to camp directors. There are some great camp management forms that can be used throughout the training process and beyond. 

Job training has been dramatically shifting to a digital-first model even before COVID-19 forced us all inside. The benefit is more choices for digital training tools as well as a lasting system you'll be able to keep in place long after the pandemic subsides.

This blog was sponsored by JotForm. JotForm helps you create online forms and collect data, all without needing to write a single line of code.

Photo by Kate Trifo via Unsplash

Periodically, the American Camp Association (ACA) makes timely and relevant information about products and services available to its members so they can make informed decisions for their camps. However, the ACA does not endorse products, services, or companies.