How we train our staff

By: Chris Peterson

At Cape Cod Sea Camps, staff training is the first step to the “best summer ever”!

Our goal is to give our campers and their families the most enjoyable camp experience possible and our staff is the front line every day providing those moments. Staff training begins with a thorough interview and hiring process. Potential candidates must first meet the high expectations that CCSC has set in place such as their ability and experience working with children, achieving certifications in specific activities, a personal interview and contact with references, an eagerness to work in an outdoor setting and so much more. As a camp, we want to provide an environment that is caring and cultivates opportunities for each camper to grow and expand themselves in a multitude of ways. Among a wide variety of topics, the ones below highlight the core concepts that every staff member is introduced to during their training.

  1. Online training sessions and group chats in the spring focus on working with children and the variety of different situations each staff member may face throughout the summer. The major theme around these training sessions is “Caring for Campers”. This helps the staff build nurturing behaviors and an environment that is essential to the well-being of the campers. These sessions allow the staff to develop an understanding that the care of the campers extends beyond teaching activities to an appreciation of the growth and development for each age group at camp. Some of the specific topics covered are, behavior management, recognition of homesickness and tools to help guide campers with homesickness, helping campers build social skills and friendship building tools, as well as many other skills.
  2. Three weeks before the campers arrive at camp, staff training starts with counselors preparing for their roles at camp by participating in a wide variety of certification courses such as Lifeguarding, Sail Instruction, Swim Instruction, Boater Safety, and Archery Instruction. In addition, Cape Cod Sea Camps require that every staff member be certified in First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
  3. Staff orientation operates the week before campers arrive. The staff takes part in a specially planned schedule focusing on activity instruction, daily routines, caring for campers, pre-camp preparations, role-playing, and much more. This allows staff to settle into the camp environment, get to know their co-counselors and develop a rapport that allows them to work well together when the campers arrive.
  4. Cape Cod Sea Camps also welcome guest speakers and experts from the camping industry to help counselors understand what their role will be and how to be the most effective staff member at CCSC.
  5. Lastly, the staff spends many hours preparing camp as a whole for the arrival of the campers. Setting up the activity areas, cleaning the cabins, making sure equipment is ordered and available, the land sports fields are lined, boats are operating safely, the bicycle tires and soccer balls are pumped, the swimming pool equipment is checked, and the unit signs are shining brightly.

Staff training helps to establish the expectations for the role of a counselor at Cape Cod Sea Camps. Working with children is a rewarding experience and our staff is encouraged to bring their enthusiasm and energy to camp every day! Many of our leadership staff are teachers, education administrators, coaches who have worked with children in a wide variety of areas. In addition, our general staff are 18 years or older and have either completed our four-year Leadership Training Program or have completed their first year of college.

Overall, staff training provides an important tool in preparing for a successful camp season, but it’s not all seriousness. Playing games throughout training is just as important as learning new skills and tactics when working with campers. A good game of kickball or a flurry of teambuilding exercises are included to remind everyone that “play” is also a significant part of the Cape Cod Sea Camps’ experience. A fun, energetic, and engaging atmosphere that everyone can enjoy is vital to what makes camp unique.

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