Since I started my blog, I’ve been trying to write on a weekly basis. The fact that I haven’t written for almost two weeks now, should give you a clue as to what’s happening in my life. I’m entering the “seriously getting ready for camp mode”! I have to-do lists everywhere, and as I work my way through them, I keep adding more tasks. It’s exciting and a little scary all at the same time–similar to how many campers are feeling—especially if it’s their first time going away.
While I’m preparing for camp, I’m also trying to take good care of myself and enjoy the more flexible schedule I have at home so I can be at my best during camp. This includes making time for family, friends, and active pursuits like cycling and tennis. This past weekend, my son who works at Nature’s Classroom in New England came to visit me in Florida; and I recently helped my daughter find a new apartment near her school, Florida Atlantic University (FAU). So happens it’s near me, too! Having my own children settled in—even at 25 and 22 years old—makes it easier for me to focus on your children for the summer.
The community we develop at camp truly becomes like family, especially with our limited size. It’s amazing how we quickly fall back into certain established roles and relationships with those who we already know, while developing new ones as we welcome first-time staff and campers. Rick and I have seen a small number of our staff members a few times throughout the year, but for the most part, we’ll all be reuniting for the first time since last summer. The warmth and excitement is starting to generate now through the emails we’re sending and receiving from staff and families. These are mostly for planning and instruction purposes, but the “I can’t wait for camp!” statements are abundant.
Whenever I start to tell friends about all the planning and arrangements we’re doing for camp, they say, “I never thought about all the details that go into this!” We’ve been planning all year, but I’ll try to give you a glimpse into what we’re doing right now. As I write, there’s a pile of Staff Handbooks and training magazines sitting in a pile in the next room waiting to be mailed to our staff. In all fairness to Rick and me, we just picked those up from the printer yesterday, so we’re not ignoring them. Those will go out in the mail tomorrow. Our staff are busy watching their Expert Online Training modules now, anyway. This is an excellent training program by Dr. Christopher Thurber, a board-certified clinical psychologist, author, educator, and father.
I’ve been working on our pre-camp staff training for a while now, and that will continue over the next few weeks. We’re starting to bring some of our lead staff into this process as well, as they play a key role in our staff training as well as pre-camp planning. And this year, we’re excited to be bringing our Senior Campers into the pre-camp planning process as well. They’ll be helping us with camp songs and evening activities especially.
As you read in my previous blog entry, we have a new t-shirt design that was done by a new camper. After we chose the winner, I sent the design to the company we order our t-shirts from, and today I ordered the t-shirts, along with the sweatshirts for our 3-year campers, backpacks for our 4-year campers, windbreakers for our 5-year campers, and a surprise for our 6 and 7-year campers and staff! Then, of course, there are the water bottles, lanyards and nametags, which I just ordered as well. In the next week or so our art director, Marilyn Barry will be ordering many other supplies including all the paints, clay, beads, tools, and other materials needed to make us a top notch summer arts camp. In addition, some of our new activities such as Rock Shop will require new equipment including a drums, keyboard, and electric bass guitar.
Our families and staff members that received an email from me over the last week requesting t-shirt sizes probably realized we’re placing orders for supplies. We ask for the t-shirt size on the camper application, but sometimes it gets overlooked. Which brings me to the many forms that I’m receiving, filing and entering into our database right now. I know parents find it rather tedious filling out all the forms—as I did when I was on that side—so maybe it will help you to picture me sitting here under a huge pile of your forms as they come in and I have to process them!
In the meantime, we still have room at our camp, so we’re also talking to new and prospective campers, sending out brochures and information, and following up with everyone. In case you’re wondering what camp director, Rick is doing…this includes many other things such as scheduling campers’ activities after the activity signup sheets come in. Many of our parents have been actively corresponding with him trying to figure out which classes will be the best fit for their child, especially with some of our new classes that have required skill-sets like Advanced Sewing and Rock Shop. While my work seems endless at times, I’m happy that Rick handles the scheduling. That’s one giant puzzle I don’t care to tackle!
Rick also takes the lead in helping parents with travel arrangements, though we’ve been doing a lot of that together recently. We’re working on arranging a bus for campers from the Boston suburbs, and we’ll confirm that as soon as we know if there’s enough interest. Then, of course there’s transportation details and reservations for trip days, community service projects, and airport pick up and drop off.
As Rick also works on fine tuning our staff members’ job descriptions, it brings me to thinking, if we had to write job descriptions for ourselves, where would we begin? We forewarn our staff that they will be asked to “wear many hats” at camp, and we also ask them to be “ready, willing and able,” to do whatever is needed at camp. They say that any corporate culture begins at the top. While I hardly think of us as corporate in our shorts and t-shirts (whether at home in Florida or at camp in Maine), that philosophy certainly rings true at Maine Arts Camp!