How do camps prepare for the summer? Keeping children safe and happy is the number one focus.
As we approach the 100 day count down to the start of camp it is important to highlight the months of planning and preparation that go into making camp magical from start to finish. When our Camp Blue Ridge family pours through the gates to welcome in our 2022 summer season, we have just 7 weeks, 49 days to put into action all the “feels” that make camp, camp! So, what does the “off” season look like for our owners and directors?
We believe that a strong foundation is the key to a well-built home. At Camp Blue Ridge we hand select our staff and personally interview, reference check and background check each member of our summer camp family. We work to ensure that we have a well-balanced, unique staff that affords our kids the opportunity to learn and interact with people of varying ages, experience, and backgrounds from all over the world. We accomplish this by working on many fronts to advertise our camp opportunities with multiple international agencies as well as national markets, college outreach, a strong internship program and of course our former campers graduating from the Star Program.
Camper recruitment is another area of focus, we strive to extend our reach summer after summer and value the positive feedback and recommendations our amazing camp family provides for us. We spend countless hours meeting virtually with prospective camp families, giving camp tours, and attending camp fairs with the goal of creating an inclusive, dynamic environment that encourages relationship building. In the American Camp Association article, Camp and Culture: The Core Competencies Deeply Engrained in Culturally Responsive Camp Leaders and Counselors, Sonya Whitaker states “You must engage in the process of creating authentic opportunities to get to know the cultures of your campers and their parents/guardians. A simple way to start this process is by learning what matters to them. Find out what excites them about participating in the camp experience and what may cause them to experience anxiety related to doing so.”
The American Camp Association (ACA) is our accrediting agency and provides us with the tools, resources, and trainings we need to ensure we stay compliant and on trend in everything we do. Our director team spends many hours attending conferences, webinars and reviewing resources that ensure we are meeting their requirements. Summer 2022 is an accreditation year, so we are busy preparing documentation, reviewing policies, and ensuring our amenities and programs meet or exceed industry standards. Residential summer camps are not required to be accredited, at Camp Blue Ridge we pride ourselves on our commitment to excellence and our long tradition as an ACA accredited camp. For more information on the American Camp Association and the standards required, please visit their website https://www.acacamps.org/.
Another important off-season task is the review and rigorous inspection of our facilities. As a director team, we have a list of priority upgrades that allow our facility to maintain required safety standards, maximize participant and staff satisfaction and keep Blue Ridge Camp ahead of the curve for facility and programming offerings our camp family enjoys. Our staff enjoy researching trends, gathering camper and staff feedback, and setting short and long-term goals for our beautiful 250-acre Blue Ridge Mountain property. This summer’s camp upgrades and additions include new cabin flooring, a renovated archery range and the addition of pickleball and disc golf to our program offerings.
One final component we meticulously plan and prepare for each year is the review and preparation of our staff orientation week. As mentioned above, our staff are the foundation of our camp home and set the tone and culture that allows our campers to thrive and enjoy all that camp affords them. We work hard to ensure that our staff understand our camp mission and philosophy and have the tools needed to create the camp culture we all work to embody. We spend this important week designing a training plan that reinforces teamwork, group cohesion and allows us to model the standards and expectations we require of them. A combine thread that binds us together is the theme of “family”. At the end of this week, we feel confident in our plan and the founding principle that we are all in this together, For The kids, regardless of position or title. Happy staff create happy campers, and we recognize and appreciate the valuable role they play in our success.