And you thought your May was busy: We caught Kath Davies, the director at Camp Hazen YMCA, for a quick interview before she hopped on a plane this Friday to represent the YMCA of the USA at the Eastern European Y Camp Conference in Belarus! Here’s some golden nuggets that Kath has picked up over her 18 summers at Camp Hazen.
How do you go about preparing to start the summer at camp?
May is thinking about what did I miss and what do I need more time for--May is not the time to start a new project. It’s making sure everything you’ve done is ready to go and it’s as good as it can be.
I definitely rely on what I call my what's next list--I don’t like to-do lists--I think what’s next is more exciting. We have a 13’ notice board in our office--our what’s next board. On the center of it, we have it split into quadrants--things that are due soon and are wicked important, bottom right, due later and not as important. In the due soon and wicked important section is orientation, finish up staffing, make sure program booklets are written, stuff that needs to get done really soon. Down in the opposite quadrant are things likes like our new yurt--we need to think of a name! We want to re-do our seasonal staff cabins and buy new furniture--if we’ve got time we can do these things it but if we don’t camp will still run!
Also, I’ve got a group of program directors working with me--it’s the first time they’re hitting May 1--even though inside I’m wigging out, I have to keep a calm tone. You know what, summer’s going to happen--let’s just prioritize, take a breath and make sure those around you are as calm as they be...and make sure those around you aren’t wigging out.
How do you go about preparing personally before you start the summer at camp?
Good question. What do I do personally? I just work. I’m not very good with the work life balance thing! I do try to make sure that up until I hit the May time I am taking time for myself--last week, I went out and got my round of golf in. Just taking time to make sure I can be ready to go and give 100% when the time comes. I usually take a vacation in April, too.
The only other things is once the summer starts, I need to remember to enjoy it. Yes, I just worked 9 months to make this happen. But I need to take some time to hang out with a cabin group or make a sandcastle at the beach with kids because you can get so wrapped up in what you’re doing and you need to remember the reason you’re here. Burnout can happen pretty quick. I’m going into summer 18 right now you need to make sure you’re getting out of it what you need to get out of it and putting in what you need to put in. I always tell Denise, our CEO, when she asks how I’m doing with that--so long as I know I’m still growing and giving what Camp Hazen needs, I’m not going anywhere.
Any final words of advice for someone making this transition for the first time?
Enjoy it! You gotta enjoy it. You have to remember why you’re doing it.
Organization is key. When I walk around during the summer, people don’t think I do anything--that’s what I’m supposed to look like during the summer! I say JIC: I’m here Just In Case. If nothing bad is happening, I shouldn’t have to do anything. If I’m busy and I’m running around looking like I’m crazy, that means something’s wrong. If I don’t look like I’m doing anything, that’s a good day.
The Summer Camp Society is a semester-long learning cooperative for emerging camp professionals designed and facilitated by Sarah Kurtz McKinnon and Jack Schott. We empower emerging leaders to give all kids the best possible camp experience.
The first cohort group will start the program in September 2017. Join us--we are accepting applications now through June 1. Click here to learn more.