One of the prime times to generate some morale-boosting energy is during staff meetings! We oftentimes go through a laundry list of “business” items during staff meetings and forget to carve out some time for the good work of staff recognition. So, I’ve compiled five favorite recognition activities for staff meetings that I have seen or used over the years. I love ending staff meetings with activities like these—so everyone leaves feeling those positive emotions about the good work they do at camp. And, as a final note, most of these are structured so that the camp leaders can participate as well in both giving and receiving recognition. Enjoy!
1. Before the meeting, procure several raffle prizes--at least enough for 20% of your staff members to win a prize. These prizes could be gift certificates to local time off haunts ($5 to the Dairy King; a pizza coupon), fun and surprising food prizes (bag of Bugles, anyone?), dollar store prizes (inflatable raft, bag of water balloons), or even items from your camp store or camp coupons (extra night off, free load of laundry, etc.). This can be done with little or no budget!
2. At the meeting, set up all the prizes in a display formation on a table.
3. Give each staff member who is present three blank index cards. The staff member needs to write one “shout-out” to a fellow staff member on each index card. They can choose three staff members they think have been really impactful, either to them personally, to an individual camper, or to the greater camp. Someone might write on their three index cards:
“Niel’s menu changes in the kitchen make my day so much better!!”
“Kate helped me in the middle of the night with a sick camper -- THANK YOU! I couldn’t have done it without her.”
“Kashi’s campers are having a blast this session. She’s killing it as a junior counselor and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for her!!!!”
4. Then, collect all of the index cards. These turn into raffle tickets! Place them all in a big bowl and pull some out one by one. Read each drawn card aloud to the group, and the person receiving the shoutout can come pick out a prize.
5. When you’re done with the prizes, sometimes staff members want you to read all the shoutouts aloud. Do it! Then, that night, tack them all to some poster paper and hang them up in your staff office or lounge so everyone can see all the positivity!
The Index Card Game
The setup is similar to the staffle….except no prizes. Basically all you have to do is get a stack of index cards and go through your staff roster. Write each staff member’s name on three separate index cards (make sure to include admin staff!). Then, at the meeting, everyone draws three index cards and has to write props for the three people they draw, and then drop them into a bowl. You can then shuffle the deck by mixing up the cards, and everyone draws three new cards with the props written on them. Then, go around the room and have people read aloud the props they drew. In the interest of time, I like to cut the index cards in half so the props have to be short. You can also reduce the number of index cards per person. After the meeting, remember to post all of the shoutouts just like in the staffle.
The String Game
Sometimes I like to take camper games and use them with the staff. This is a favorite of campers that transfers well to a staff meeting. All you need is a ball of yarn or twine and a pair of scissors.
Have the entire team sit in a circle-like formation (doesn’t have to be perfect). Then, start with the ball of yarn. Hold onto the end. Then, throw the ball of yarn to a person in the group, and share a couple sentences of appreciation about them:
“Mark, it’s been amazing to see you emerge from a CIT into a confident junior counselor. Your campers look up to you so much, and I love to see the great relationships you have built with them. You are an important part of our staff!”
Then, Mark has the ball of yarn. He pinches the yarn and then throws the ball of yarn to another person, sharing his appreciation for them with the group.
The game continues until everyone has gotten the ball of yarn and is each holding part of the long thread. It looks like a spider web. Then come around with the scissors and snip in between each connection. Each person will end up with a piece of yarn, which they can then wear as a bracelet or anklet, etc. You can then say something inspiring, with the symbolism of the interconnected web/how we all support each other/etc., and they can remember the team’s unity each time they see their bracelet.
The Back Game
Your materials are simple: 1 safety pin, 1 piece of construction paper and 1 washable marker for each staff person. Each person needs to have their piece of paper pinned to their back, probably “portrait” style. Then, have everyone stand up and move about the room, mixing and matching with other people. When two staff members pair up, they each write a compliment or words of appreciation on the other person’s paper. After the staff has had ample time to rotate (time for at least 10-15 exchanges), they can sit back down and read their papers.
Note: this idea has been mentioned on several instances on the Summer Camp Professionals Facebook Group; there are a lot of great variations but this is mine—I say, keep it simple!
“Tap Someone Who…”
This is another twist on a camper exercise; just do it with the staff!
Have everyone sit and close their eyes. Explain that certain staff members at different times during the exercise will be “it”. The people who are it can keep their eyes open. When you are it, you will be given very simple instructions. Select about 10% of your staff group to be “it”, and have them stand. Everyone else remains sitting with their eyes closed and does not know who is “it.”
Once the people who are “it” are established, read a few statements (probably 4-6), telling them to gently tap people who the statement applies to on the shoulder.
After the first round, select another group of people to be “it” and read some more questions. You are welcome to “recycle” the questions and try to tailor them to your camp’s needs and values. You are also welcome to add in some silly ones that pertain to your camp’s culture. At mine, it would have been something like “Tap someone who has the best thrift store finds” or something of the sort.
Here’s a sample list of statements:
- “Tap someone who makes campers laugh”
- “Tap someone who has done a great job with a difficult camper”
- “Tap someone who supports you”
- “Tap someone who comes up with creative ideas”
- “Tap someone who has given you good advice”
- “Tap someone who has some great costumes”
- “Tap someone who you look up to”
- “Tap someone who never gives up”
- “Tap someone who has helped you out when you were in need”
- “Tap someone who is always working hard”
- “Tap someone who is awesome in activity areas”
- “Tap someone who helps you stay healthy”
- “Tap someone who is great with teen campers”
- “Tap someone who is wonderful with the little kids”
- “Tap someone who does great with the middle schoolers”
- “Tap someone who you can lean on”
- “Tap someone who is really fun at assembly”
- “Tap someone who gets the campers excited about stuff”
- “Tap someone who is an unsung hero”
- “Tap someone who makes you laugh”
- “Tap someone who is a great role model”
- “Tap someone who goes the extra mile”
- “Tap someone who has taught you something”
- “Tap someone who is especially caring”
- “Tap someone who is especially honest”
- “Tap someone who is especially respectful”
- “Tap someone who is especially responsible”
- “Tap someone who inspires you”
- “Tap someone who has shown great improvement this summer”
- “Tap someone who campers look up to a lot”
- “Tap someone who you saw teach a camper something”
- “Tap someone who you would like to have as a co-counselor”