After months of quiet bunks and empty fields, camp is starting to buzz with activity again; staff members from all over the world, whether this is their 1st or their 48th year, were asked to come a week or more before campers arrive to attend an 8-day Orientation.
Orientation serves as a time for staff to (re)adjust from their daily lives in the “real world” to the camp lifestyle, to bond with their fellow staff members, and to review what is going to be expected of them over the course of the summer. It encourages them to begin thinking about their future campers, and how to give them the best summer they can. We discuss the emotions that come with a camp experience, and how to help campers be successful in managing them.
For the first-year staff members, this also includes learning what facilities there are at the camp, how those work, why Manitou is a special place for the veteran staff who continue to return year after year, and, most importantly, what it means to be an engaging, caring, compassionate counselor for the campers.
For the veteran staff, orientation is an opportunity to build new relationships and invite new members into the Manitou family. They serve as friends and role models for the first-year staff to demonstrate the most important tips to look after campers, as well as make the most out of their summer here.
Manitou hires a team of 195 staff, covering all aspects of the camp operation: cabins, activities, office, medical, laundry, kitchen, maintenance, and security. There are 40 women on staff, a large former camper population, 25 professional educators and high school or college coaches, moms, dads, and grandparents. Directors and senior staff members work with all staff to maintain a culture that helps every boy feel comfortable, and maximize their camp experience. The foundation is set that a safe environment is essential to a successful camp season for each camper. We also helped them understand that they will be partners in the parenting process with you. Beyond focusing on safety and fun, they need to understand the specific needs of each camper and help them grow in these areas.
Camp staff are in the ‘trenches’ 24-7, and will have such an impact on the experience of our campers. We appreciate them, and understand that we are only as good as our staff. After spending the past week with this dedicated group of men and women, we are confident that our campers are in good hands for the summer!