Every summer, gates across the nation open to wildly happy children because camp season is once again underway. These children run through those gates while singing songs and into the arms of counselors they prayed would return again for one more summer under the baking sun. Memories of past terms flood their minds and the idea of making new ones cause their faces to radiate with excitement. They know that summer is back, camp is back; all worries or cares cease to exist.
So, how do we keep the magic alive when the doors close again in the winter? How do you stay warm in the sun when the leaves are starting to fall and temperature is quickly dropping? The golden question: How do you summer in the winter??
After the last camper has faded into the distance and you’ve finally cried the last tear after saying goodbyes, what are you left with? It is inevitable that lost and found will turn up or a counselor will call because they left something in their box. After camp, calls will be made to see if those that didn’t sign-up are thinking about coming back and daily powwows with your team are fueled with coffee and ideas on what themes the upcoming summer should bring.
Summer has officially left the building and now it’s time to ride that high until the next one comes about. So, what do you do?
Let the kids know you miss them
The children are what bring camp to life so let them know that their presence is missed and you are feeling it. They want to know that you think about them. Show it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Everyone wants to feel loved and wanted, so what better way to show the kids you care than by letting them know!?
Something that Heart O’ the Hills Summer Camp for Girls does is when sending out their yearbooks they write a handwritten letter personalized for each girl. Allowing them to know that their absence is felt and they cannot wait for them to return. By acknowledging the fact that camp isn’t the same without them keeps them wanting to return to place they love, because they know they are accepted there.
Start fresh each day
Grab your coffee and pop-tart and boldly step into your office. Let the memories of the past summer wash over you as you begin to plan for the next. Ask yourself what can you do to make the upcoming summer better than the last? What went right? What could have been done better? Seek help from others around you and go over what made that summer so special. Don’t let the warmth of those summer days fade away from your mind. Keep them intact because they will help you plan for the future. Keep them fresh in your mind; they will only benefit you later down the road.
Seek counselors that radiate sunshine
If you want to keep the summer alive then you need to find counselors that will do the same. Seek those that are the sun before the storm and the rainbow after it’s gone. These people will be the representation of your camp and you need the best of the best. Negative Nancy is not allowed on your camp property.
When going to college recruitment fairs or having interviews with potential counselors truly look into their personality, desires, goals, and aspirations for their life. Also, make sure that they like kids…it’s kind of imperative that they do. Talk about their passions and see what makes their eyes light up, get to know them. Remember they are the ones the kids think of in the off-season. They are the sun in the darkness and they need to be that all year long.
Let the summer shine through you
The off-season can be hard and days feel long. The normalcy of a 9-5 job starts to seep in and you become anxious because you wish it was Field Day or you were preparing for Tribe Hills instead. It can get hard to keep that everlasting smile on your face but this is the time to push through. This is where those summer moments come in handy and remind you just why you live for those spectacular three months. This is the time that you look around your office and talk about the moment you were blobbed so high you felt that you could fly. These moments keep you refreshed in the drought of winter. This is where the summer glows through you even when you didn’t think it could anymore. Let those moments of hilarity and love fall from your lips when you speak and allow it to live on forever.
Those long summer days go by quicker than any other and eventually the sun does fade behind the winter clouds. However, winter fades and summer rises. Flowers begin to bloom, the sun decides to warm the earth again and before you know it, there are kids running through your gates illuminating with smiles and cheers once again.
You’ve made it. You survived. And all the while, you managed keep the summer magic during the winter.