As I was walking to breakfast this morning, the Warrior campers and staff were heading into the camp’s dining room. It was only 8:15 in the morning, and our counselors were already hard at work. At least a dozen counselors were giving boys piggyback rides into the building. A few counselors walked side-by-side with the campers with their arms gently placed on the little guys’ shoulders for no reason other than the fact that our staff sincerely love your kids. These relationships are genuine, their care and concern are as honest and sincere as if the campers were their own little brothers.
During visiting day, I had a conversation with a parent who commented on how enthusiastic and compassionate our staff was. He asked about how we instruct the staff during the preseason orientation. I told him that I had recently given a talk at a conference about how to motivate staff when there is no Christmas bonus or chance of promotion. The first thing that we look for when hiring people to work with your boys is to find people of character who are morally and ethically sound and willing to put their needs behind the needs of a child. Unlike some internships that may look better on a resumé, a summer camp job forces one to think on his feet and to make important judgment calls all day long. In any given day, a counselor may make 50-100 decisions based on instinct and his or her assessment of a situation. Most jobs don’t give their employees that kind of latitude. I explained to the staff that employers today are looking for candidates who are willing to adapt to all kind of situations– people who have problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, and who are team players. I explained to the staff that the skills required to be a great camp counselor will serve them well in the “real” world.
When I describe our team, one of the unique components here at Camp Takajo is that we hire a female counselor as a bunk counselor (for all responsibilities aside from living in the cabin) in every bunk of boys who have finished first through fourth grades. While I refer to the uniqueness of hiring female staff in this all-male culture as our “special ingredient,” I don’t want to take anything away from the amazing male counselors I have on my staff. As my wife often says to me, after witnessing our male staff in action, “You are teaching these young men how to be great husbands and fathers.”
I have often said that no matter how beautiful our facility is, we are only as good as our staff. After a fantastic visiting day weekend, I am fortunate to be surrounded by such caring and devoted young men and women.