Moving Mountains and Herding Cats: Closing Summer Camp

August 21, 2017
Brian Straka

The last camper was picked up (46 minutes late, but you won the last office pool). Now your staff stands idly bewildered at what to do next. You and your staff have been flying through the space-time of summer faster than Han Solo’s Kessle Run, so it can be tough to fathom there isn’t a next group of campers, a next carnival or closing slideshow. No more weird camp jokes that become new traditions (ours was LaCroix Sparking Water — it’s a long story) and no more lists of endless tasks that need to get done, except for one – ending the summer and getting out!

For every summer camp director, closing out the summer can bring about almost as many challenges as starting the summer did — especially if your camp is housed in borrowed or converted space. From organizing end-of-the-season festivities for your staff (please do this), coordinating airport shuttle runs for those returning to college or home, and cleaning up, organizing and inventorying 10 weeks of summer camp chaos. Your cup may feel like it’s running over and you’re close to losing it! In an effort to organize the jumble that is the end of camp and my critical thinking ability after 10 weeks of camp, I created this 4-Square Chart system last summer and really like how it divides the many different aspects of your job and things you need to get done.

So, for one last time this summer, pull out your trusted pad of paper on a clipboard covered in weird stickers campers and staff have given you over the years and your make the following 4-square chart and let it rip! Happy End of Camp everyone! May you be blessed with longer sleep and fewer emails! 

Brian Straka is a former history teacher and high school administrator and is thankfully the summer camp director of AstroCamp in Idyllwild, California. In the off-season, he and his wife live on an urban farm in Lake Balboa, CA, raising chickens, small rescue dogs, and growing a variety of fruit. 

Photo courtesy of Happy Hollow Children's Camp in Nashville, Indiana.

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