Staff training is a vital part of building an enjoyable camp community. Before campers arrive, it is important for the staff to bond and to develop personal relationships. Staff training needs to have both informative and fun elements in the camp environment. Whether your staff is mostly veterans or new hires, bonding your staff members and creating your camp community can be a fun experience.
There are many ways to introduce staff members to one another, especially if they will be working closely for three months. Starting with an interesting introductory game can put everyone at ease with their new co-workers. A few good introduction activities include silly questions, hypothetical situations and favorites. For example, you can ask each person to share his name, position and favorite dance move. After one person has shared, everyone must join in and do that person's dance move.
The goal of your fun icebreaker activities needs to be team building. It is an essential trait in having a problem-free staff. These icebreakers are basics that work for almost any age group. The human knot is an excellent icebreaker. To start, have a group of no more than 12 people stand in a circle. Everyone in the group puts her right hand into the circle and grabs another group member's right hand. Then the group reaches their left hand in and grabs another group member's left hand. Do not grab the hand of the person standing next to you. The object of the icebreaker is to untangle everyone without letting go of each other's hands. Not all knots can be solved, so starting over may be necessary. An extra challenge would be for the group to try and untangle themselves without talking.
Another icebreaker is called "Sing Down." Have everyone split into two groups. As the leader, tell the groups one word like "love," "low" or "dream." Each group has one minute to brainstorm as many songs that include that word. Alternatively, one member of the group must sing a line from the song including the given word.
Decorate Common Areas
To help solidify the bond among staff members, allow them to decorate common areas and cabins. Some good decorations are informative for campers while being fun to make. One example is to create a large grid of interesting information. Each staff member gets a column to answer the questions posed for each row. The questions can be semi-serious or completely silly. Encourage staff members to be creative and show their personality when filling out the grid.
For new staff members, it's difficult to hear stories about years past from more experienced staff. While that experience is necessary, speaking from experience should come once the staff has already completed a few new activities together. Suggestions include group hikes or a trip to the river complete with planned activities focused on team bonding. One example is a game called "Parade." The goal is for the group to get across the finish line while connected to one another. The leaders choose the number of hands, feet and knees that can touch the ground throughout the game. The number should be less than half the number of total hands and feet. The group can try as many times as needed to complete the activity. For an added challenge, instruct the group, while connected and moving toward the finish line, to sing a song.