Crisis Management, Community, and a "Rig of Bamboo"

January 27, 2014

Guest post by Kevin Austin

As Rex, Stephanie, and I walked we argued over the proper way to sing "Rig of Bamboo.” We were at the Lazy W Ranch for the Student Camp Leadership Academy (SCLA), and took a walk while sharing our camp experiences, games, plans for the future, and favorite debrief tools. I knew I had found a special community of camp professionals.

SCLA is an invaluable program for young camp professionals. Veteran camp leaders gave us personal insight into their knowledge and experience; a crisis management presentation gave us grounding in theory and asked us to develop response plans to various challenging scenarios. We didn’t know that the situations came from the leadership team’s personal experience, and discussions became real as they compared our response plans with what actually happened. I’ll always remember Billy Stempson as he described a fire that started in his craft cabin during a camp session of elementary kids!

Shared stories, a highlight of the program, included other emergencies, funny campers, and first-year director challenges. Through the narratives of these current and future leaders, I realized both the diversity and unity of camp experiences.

I’ve taken all the lessons learned from SCLA with me into my first year on the leadership team at Tom Sawyer Camps. Both the serious lessons, such as “What to do when you need the paramedics,” and the fun ones like, “How to Build Camp Community,” have served me well. I also found a network of amazing leaders that I continue to connect with today.

While there will never be an agreement on how to sing “Rig of Bamboo,” — (Seriously. Never.) — the other SCLA graduates and I agree that SCLA was one of the best steps we took on the path of camp leadership.

Kevin Austin is a program director and registrar at Tom Sawyer Camps in Pasadena, California, where he has been a camper and employee for the last sixteen years. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Wagner College in English and education and is proud to be a member of ACA.