PROFESSIONAL THINGS MY JOB AT A RESIDENTIAL SUMMER CAMP TAUGHT ME

I spent many summers working at a residential summer camp - from leading backpacking trips to shoveling horse poop to running the show my final summer. Now I oversee a national service program. It's alarmingly similar. I know there's more of you out there that agree!
  1. Don't under estimate icebreakers!
    I'm in so many meetings where people say "oh we were going to do a ice breaker but we don't have time." FYI, that doesn't actually accomplish anything. Camp taught me the importance of helping groups come together somewhat organically before having them face a challenge, be it having to drop an egg two stories without it breaking, or having to create a new strategy.
  2. Don't panic! Get through it.
    When you head off on a canoe trip and realized you accidentally only packed one paddle per boat (not the requisite two, plus a spare per boat), you can't turn your 15 passenger van around and bail on the canoe trip. You've gotta figure out a path forward, and do it in a way that works out just as well.
  3. Keep a positive attitude.
    Your campers don't care if you just broke up with the boy you thought you were going to marry (unless they're 13 year old girls, then they care. A lot.), and they still expect you to be on your game and be attentive to their needs. Same with work - there's no time to have a fatalist attitude. I'm not saying you can't bring your personal life to work, I love that about my office culture. I am saying catastrophic thinking and dwelling doesn't help anyone.
  4. Get creative.
    I don't inherently consider myself a creative person. But camp taught me how to change the lyrics to every top 40 song from 2004 - 2011 to suit the needs of a given situation, and that's clearly gotten me far. The outside of the box thinking I did having to create two weeks of activities for twenty three 16 year olds in the middle of nowhere so they wouldn't make out with each other all the time has helped me think outside the box in situations where the same old shit was not working.
  5. Be friends with your coworkers!
    We might not be spending three months stuck in the woods together, but I firmly believe that having a friendly relationship with your coworkers, even the ones you maybe don't like, makes everything significantly easier on everyone.