2024 Staff Training Recap

By Chad Hershberger

Today is our first full day with campers for Summer 2024! It’s always an exciting time to be at camp as we kick off our work with the children, youth, and families who come to be with us. I know as I drive to camp for Week 1, I feel like a giddy schoolboy, ready to start a new year.

I’m writing this on our last full day of staff training. It’s been a fantastic two and a half weeks as our cabin leaders, village leader, and support staff got camp ready, built community among us, and learned the ropes of what it means to be on staff. We go over emergency drills, learn the Bible curriculum, and practice our leadership skills. It’s quite intense but also very fun!

When you come to camp this summer, you undoubtedly expect a safe environment, trained staff to lead you, and a facility that meets the needs of the program. That’s what staff training is all about. We spent considerable time this year working on setting up how our staff will work together, what our expectations are of one another, and doing team-building activities. One of my favorite times with the staff was canoeing on the pond last week. I hadn’t been canoeing in a long while and it was just a beautiful evening both from a weather perspective and from the fun we had together. Not only did we practice our canoeing skills, but we had some boat races, talked with one another while rowing, and laughed quite a bit.

A major component of our training was learning the Bible stories associated with our theme, “Created to Be.” This is also the theme of this year’s ELCA Youth Gathering, and the stories we are studying complement what the youth gathering participants will learn in July in New Orleans. Our theme verse is from Psalms, and it reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each day, we will learn what it means to be created to be free, authentic, and brave disciples. As we have tinkered with these themes, I know the messages we are trying to get across are important for today’s young people.

We also did a lot of work with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. We’ve used MBTI for many years here as a tool to better understand one another as a staff. This year, we expanded that, to use it to role play scenarios and build a covenant between our staff. This was partially in response to a desire to help provide a framework for healthy interpersonal relationships. We also have a new practice for our cabin leader teams writing a weekly covenant to help define their working together.

Some other new things I enjoyed during training this year included our Ten Campandments. These are guiding principles for our staff to follow during the summer. I’ll write about them in another blog post this summer.

We also studied Mr. Fred Rogers these last few weeks. We looked at his life and some of the lessons he embodied in his work on children’s television. We watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Tom Hank’s movie about him.

Staff Training is one of my favorite times of the year. We put a lot of work into planning it throughout the year and to see it all come together is gratifying. It’s very intense and there are lots of long days and short nights for us all. Seeing a group of young men and women come together not knowing each other and now seeing them sitting around a table talking, laughing, and sharing fun times together is a joy of my position. As I write this, I am to the point that we’ve done what we can to orient them to their positions. It’s time for the real thing—their first week of campers!

Our staff are ready. I hope you will come join us for some time this summer. Registration is still open for most of our programs so sign up today at www.campmountluther.org