Stefan Teodosic is the Executive Director of B’nai B’rith Beber Camp and the Perlman Conference Center in Mukwonago, Wisconsin.
My mentor once told me that you could run camp in a parking lot if you had the best staff. I agree completely and it is the individual staff member, as well as the Jewish community, that make camp transformational rather than merely transactional. Jewish camp staff are the role models celebrating camper successes, providing a supportive shoulder to cry on, helping in activity areas and sitting with our kids during Shabbat services. As a field, we realize the connection between staff and mission delivery and recognize the need for a hyper-intentional staffing processes to ensure successful outcomes. Each year, Jewish camp directors prepare their staff to make the most of these opportunities through intentional year round training strategies.
Most people think of staff training as the week before the kids get to camp, full of bonding, programming and planning. While this week is critical to a good summer, Jewish camps begin preparing their staff much earlier to maximize the potential for a transformational summer experience. The field is at a place where slipping into transactional territory is not an option and we are all working with year round staff training best practices. A cornerstone of these best practices is a strategic, mission based staffing continuum that starts as soon as we wrap up the previous summer! This staffing continuum includes the following phases:
- Staff selection: intentional selection of the best staff includes a cultural fit with the camp and the decision whether a staff will truly be able to embody the mission day to day, as well as experience with kids, specialty skills and Jewish background.
- Expectation setting: expectation setting includes the forms that they sign with their contract and the conversations that you have once they have accepted the position. They need to be explicit and supported by multiple touch points leading up to their arrival at staff week.