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Focus on finding counselors

Your camp may be quiet right now, but this is the prime time to start finding the people who are going to make it hum with activity in summer. We’re talking, of course, about counselors, who are one of the most important parts of your camp, but may be difficult to keep. So, every year you need to do some recruiting.

Are you stuck with your recruiting this year? Feeling in a rut? Church Mutual offers these pieces of advice for finding a great team of counselors:

  1. Consider former campers. Who better to understand the culture of your camp than young people who experienced it themselves? Of course, a person can’t go from being a camper one summer to being a counselor the next summer, so you may want to consider developing a counselor-in-training program. If you create a hierarchy with different levels of counselors, that could provide a great incentive for older campers who want to show they can be leaders.
  2. Focus on retaining your current counselors during the off-season. Your counselors want to know you appreciate them—and not just for the work they do during the summer. Send them holiday cards and host camp reunions during the fall and winter so you can remind them how much they love being a counselor. Offer them professional development opportunities, a raise and a bonus if they sign on by a certain date. Consider putting a lot of effort into keeping your counselors engaged, because retaining them is much less expensive than recruiting new ones.
  3. Step up your marketing strategies. Think about the places where you might find counselors and focus your marketing efforts there. Universities are a great place to start—plus, you can find counselors with specific skill sets if you reach out to certain groups, such as musical groups or faith-based organizations. High schools can also be good options for recruiting 16-18-year-olds. Look into job fairs you can send a staff member to. Not only will you meet people who are specifically looking for a job, but you can also network with other organizations that might be able to send referrals your way.
  4. Don’t forget background checks. Your main objective is to keep your campers safe, and that begins with hiring the right people. Run a background check, call all their references and check on their certifications. Don’t just take their word on anything. You will also want to find out what kinds of activities they’re willing to lead. If you run an outdoor camp, for example, and you learn a potential counselor is more of an indoor person, they may not be the right fit.

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