What does a Camp Director do all year?
I love my job.
I don't know how many people can say that. I imagine there are a lot of people who like their job. But actually love their job? I think I'm definitely in the minority on that one.
And you're probably saying to yourself, "Yeah Chris, real hard to love your job. You're a camp director. What's not to love?! You probably just play disc golf and hang out at the blob pool most days." Most of our summer staff probably think the same thing. In fact, the #1 question that a camp director gets asked in the off-season is something along the lines of, "What exactly do you do all year?"
Well, truth be told ... we do play a LOT of disc golf.
But in addition to that, believe it or not, we do some actual work. And while that work list is long, it is safe to say that there is one task that occupies the brain-space of a camp director more than any other ... staff recruiting.
Maybe some of you are like me and started working at camp back in the nineteen hundreds. For me, it was the "chance" encounter in the student center with a group of young adults who were WAY too enthusiastic about what they were doing for a living. They were standing at a table trying to awkwardly initiate conversation with students who were avoiding eye contact at all costs. (And if you ever ran into Johnny Polk in one of those student centers, words don't even begin to describe that crazy experience!)
Back in my day (FYI: one of the tell-tell signs you're getting older is when you start hearing yourself say, "Back in my day ..." ), staff recruiting was mostly confined to the spring semester. In January and February camps started showing up on campus in an attempt to build their teams for the summer ahead. I remember one year, an overly ambitious camp did something crazy and showed up on campus in November!! Can you imagine? What a waste of time. There is no possible way a college student could commit to something 6 months away.
What I wouldn't give for the good old days when we didn't START recruiting until January.
In the overly-connected, break-neck pace world we live in, the competition for summer camp staff is at a fever pitch. Often, on move-in days in August, camps are already on campuses hard at work trying to gain commitments from students for a job that is 9+ months away.
And you know what ... I get it. I get the feelings of anxiousness. I get the borderline panic. I get the same questions running through my head: Will we have enough staff next summer? What happens if I don't get enough guys? Will we have to turn away campers?
"O you of little faith ... do not be anxious ... your Heavenly Father knows what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
So, what does it look like for a camp director to "not be anxious" and to "seek first the kingdom of God" when it comes to staff recruiting? For us, it means refocusing.
As a team, our directors have made a concerted effort to refocus our approach with our college staff. Rather than see them as a mere number or a name on a spreadsheet, we are striving to continue doing exactly what we did all summer. Encourage them. Challenge them. Pray for them. Equip them. Love them.
The verse that I pray for our staff is Philippians 1:9-11. "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes from through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
The easy and temporary thing is convincing them to work at camp next summer. The thing of eternal value is helping their love for the Father abound more and more! That's what we want to be about. We trust that if we keep our focus where it needs to be (on His Kingdom and righteousness), then we can trust that a Heavenly Father will provide what we need.
Will you join us by praying for our staff? Praying for both the ones who have served already and the ones we haven't even met yet. Pray that their love and relationship with the Lord will continue to grow. And while you're at it, will you pray for us directors? Pray that we will keep our focus in the right place, squarely on Him. I can't wait to see what He has in store!!
I love my job.
- Chris Shelton