While the first day of camp may technically be the day your child arrives, the preparation for the summer begins far earlier. Weeks before your camper sets off for Maine, the camp administrators, various heads of departments, and other staff members will begin to flock to camp to prepare for the upcoming summer season. And while every element of this preparation is vital to ensuring a successful summer, perhaps the most integral aspect of “pre-camp” is the annual staff orientation.
Staff orientation, which generally lasts a little more than a week, is a multi-faceted program that is designed to prepare staff members to take care of your most prized possession: your child. But what does this preparation entail? How can a camp design a program that will suitably train a group of mostly twenty-somethings to care for hundreds of children?
Part of the orientation process will deal with the simple x’s and o’s of readying camp for your child. Staff members will learn about the scheduling and programmatic elements of camps; they will take inventory and ready the fields and facilities for your camper; and they will be sorted into the cabins (and of course, the age groups) they will live in during the summer. Cabins will be cleaned, trunks will be moved (and sometimes unpacked), and staff will be familiarized with the rules and regulations that govern camp and ensure your child is safe throughout their time away. Furthermore, staff will be versed and drilled in the various emergency procedures to be ready for whatever might arise during the course of a summer – all possibilities are taken into account, and staff are given the resources and the knowledge to manage any situation and make the right decisions.
The Emotional Preparation
Perhaps the most difficult job a camp counselor will have during the summer will be dealing with the emotional journey that a summer at camp entails. How do you handle a homesick first-time camper? How can you prevent bullying or clique-forming within the bunks? Who will care when you are not there? During orientation, staff will have several meetings detailing the ways in which they can best deal with the difficult situations that inevitably arise over the course of a long summer. Some camps will even have their staff meet as a group with a psychologist or therapist in order to make sure the staff members themselves will be emotionally ready to be a foundation of comfort and support for your camper or campers.
Instilling The Culture
While your camp may have wonderful facilities, top-notch gear, and a plethora of activities to choose from, it is the wonderful culture that ultimately defines these Maine camps and will make your child’s summer memorable. But, as many staff members will be new to camp themselves, how will they be able to instill a culture that they have only just encountered? A great deal of the orientation process is dedicated to instilling a positive culture within the camp environment. Orientation generally begins with ice-breakers and team-building sessions which will expose staff to one another, and create the familiarity that is essential to a cohesive camp environment. They will also be familiarized with the dining hall procedures, campfire songs, and various traditions that define a successful summer. A great deal of responsibility will be placed on the returning staff members to guide the new ones as they acclimate to the camp environment.
Overall, staff orientation is a vital pre-cursor to any successful camp season. The goal will be to create a safe and positive environment that will permeate the camp culture, and to ensure that when your child arrives at camp they will be surrounded by a supportive group of counselors. After a successful and positive orientation, staff members will be well prepared to guide your camper every step of the way as they experience the wonderful journey that is a summer at camp in Maine.
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Campcierge™ to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge®, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.