Calls, Letters and Questionable Sanity

Posted by Steve Baskin on Jun 19, 2019 5:11:12 PM
Steve Baskin
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Our fellow camp directors think we are crazy.

Some ask, “Why in the world would you trust a counselor to make an update phone call with a parent?”

Others wonder, “What makes you so masochistic that you would ask for a written report for every camper? Have you ever read their writing?”

Very few camps do written reports. Even fewer make phone calls from counselors. I would say I know about a dozen camps that do the reports and roughly 4-5 that make calls.

On one level, I understand why people think we are crazy.

To start, it is a logistical nightmare. We need to provide time for the counselors to call or write while assuring that we supervise all activities and watch every cabin. We also want to be able to do that without taking away any of their (very precious) off time.

But the logistics are just the beginning, we think differently.

We do the phone calls for two reasons.

First, we know that you are smart enough to be forgiving. You know that our counselors are selected for their commitment to children and not because they are professional speakers. You understand that talking with parents is intimidating. We give you credit to appreciate the communication without judging its delivery.

Second, the counselors are the people with the most direct information. They see the interaction in the cabins, the budding friendships, the comments during Nightly Rituals, and the inside jokes. They are the ones you want to hear from.

The written reports are a different challenge.

[Note: these “reports” are more like mementos of your child’s time at camp. There are so many things that happen and so many great memories that even a 30-page report would fail to cover everything. So please do not think they are exhaustive in any manner. Instead, we are providing some flavor of the camp experience.]

The biggest obstacle is inconsistent writing capabilities. To be clear, we do not believe that writing well is a critical skill in a counselor hero. Being a great mentor, a supportive listener or a diligent lifeguard does not require writing acumen. But writing skills do help when you are creating a one-page report.

To put it bluntly, some of our wonderful, loving counselor should never pursue a career in journalism or novel writing. Ever.

As a result, we recruit a team of counselors who are talented writers to form a special editing squad. Here they are with Susie Ma’am who still oversees the entire process personally. You may notice Dodger Ma’am (the camp dog) on the lap of one of our editors. If your report has a mistake in it, we are blaming the dog!

Steve Sir