Build camaraderie and generate programmatic payoff in 1 fun staff training activity!

Translating staff training fun to rainy day joy

As we dive headlong into staff training season, we're all trying to cram as much value as possible into every last minute of staff training.

Do we need to cover more policies? How can we inject more fun? What about training staff to run program areas? What about adding NEW program areas?

So, today I'd love to share a quick activity that built a sense of camaraderie among staff while also infusing a little fresh air into rainy days at camp.

Crazy Counselor Competitions

medieval juggling
medieval juggling

This activity is divided into four easy steps.

1) Generate a handful of zany competitions to present to counselors (nose jousting, peeling oranges with no thumbs, the cow competition [who can fit the most grass in their mouth without using their hands in 30 seconds?], who can get the most covered in shaving cream, etc). 2) Invite counselors to participate in these competitions, for fun or prizes. 3) Let counselors come up with their own competitions. 4) Record everything.

Here's a representative example, where you get to see Jack Schott of Go Camp Pro fame acting like a velociraptor!

We encourage every staff member to be in at least one competition, but of course let them opt out if they don't want to be filmed. Counselors would introduce the competitors like it was a professional boxing match, add in zany commercials, and generally spice it up however they liked.

Then, one of our program staff would take all the videos and watch them looking for one moment - a moment in which the competition was still somewhat in doubt. So if the competition were a pie eating contest, she might mark that at 20 seconds in the winner was still very much in doubt. She'd mark the file name - "Pie Eating Contest, 20 seconds" - and leave it in the "Counselor Competitions" folder on the computer.

And we're most of the way there! We can sock away these videos, literally, for a rainy day.

Turning these videos into amazing rainy day programming

The first time a rainy day comes along, we have a dynamite rainy day activity. Here are the steps for the campers.

  1. The campers pile into a room and sit down in small groups.
  2. They're given a starting amount of some currency, usually raffle tickets.
  3. Campers are given a way to signal whom they think will win - you can use small wipe boards, or pieces of paper, or even a show of hands.
  4. A program staffer starts a video, and pauses it at the appropriate moment when the contest is still in doubt.
  5. Groups signal whom they think will win the competition, and how much they're willing to bet - so if they thought I would win and were willing to wager 3 raffle tickets, they'd hold up a sign that said, "James, 3."
  6. The rest of the video is played. Wild cheering and dismayed groaning ensues.
  7. When the winner is determined, a few program staff go around paying off bets or collecting the various losses.
  8. At the end, the group divides their raffle tickets evenly and can put them in a number of various group-rewards (anything from double dessert, to a special hike, to pieing the director's face, or whatever works for your camp).

And that's pretty much it.

In one staff training activity (that also works as a filler that staff can do between more serious sessions) you get to let your hair down and have some fun while also generating a can't-miss rainy day activity for summer campers, who absolutely love watching their counselors act a fool and compete in absurd ways on video. You can make a bunch of these up front and stockpile them for different sessions, or even bring campers in to make their own as the summer progresses.

And, heck, it beats re-watching Tangled for the thousandth time any day.