Staff — 2023 Summer Debrief Series

Staff — 2023 Summer Debrief Series

SO MANY GREAT CONVERSATIONS! I loved hearing about staff, what's working, what isn't, and what you need help with. I've got some trends below!

Ps.... this is part of our Summer Debrief Series.


This time, I asked some specific yes/nos and numbers. Here's what we saw:

  1. Staff Gifts: Of the people who participated, 81% got some gift for their staff this summer. 67% spent less than $25/person, 23% spent $25-50/person, and 10% spent $50+/person.
  2. Counselor Daily Rate of Pay: Before I get into the data, like someone (I think Jason Brown?) pointed out, these numbers are going to vary from day camp/overnight camp because we get into the whole room and board thing, overnight camp works longer hours, and more. I kept this question not type of camp specific for the sake of brevity, but our new research lead Sami Eron can help us drill down on this more in the future!
    • $25-50/day: 5%
    • $50-75/day: 31%
    • $75-100/day: 21%
    • $100-$125/day: 33%
    • $125-$150/day: 8%
    • $150+/day: 2%
    • Not included in the percentages but important to mention: We had four all volunteer camps respond. 
  3. Leadership Daily Rate of Pay: Same caveats as above apply!
    • $50-75/day: 22%
    • $75-100/day: 17%
    • $100-$125/day: 28%
    • $125-$150/day: 11%
    • $150+/day: 22%
    • We had volunteer camps and camps without leadership staff respond, too!
  4. Staff Training Length: Again, before we talk numbers, as someone pointed out, these numbers often vary from day camp and overnight camp. I kept this question not type of camp specific for the sake of brevity, but our new research lead Sami Eron can help us drill down on this more in the future!
    • 24 hours or less: 10%
    • 1-2 days: 5%
    • 3-4 days: 10%
    • 5-7 days: 34%
    • 8-10 days: 28%
    • 11+ days: 13%
    • I asked to not include certifications in this summer.
  5. Leadership Staff Training Length: Same caveats as above! And with this one, y'all - there's a reason Sami is in charge of research. I realize I gave no option for "no leadership staff training." I also didn't ask about virtual trainings. Hoping we can dig in more later! 
    • No Response (assuming these mean no trainings - big assumption - sorry!): 15%
    • 24 hours or less: 39%
    • 1-2 days: 7%
    • 3-4 days: 18%
    • 5-7 days: 8%
    • 8-10 days: 8%
    • 11+ days: 5%
    • I asked to not include certifications in this summer.

*There are so many caveats and things to mention about these numbers. This data set is fairly small. Most questions had around 55-61 respondents. Typically, the majority of people who attend our programs are familiar enough with us to know that we're all about inclusion & belonging, innovation, camper choice, etc. We are a pretty progressive org, and we tend to attract more progressive data. I know there are other things I should point out. Grateful Sami will help us in the future!

Common Threads in Wins

  1. Staff Retention and Satisfaction: Phrases like "Lots of staff returning," "People want to come back," and "Staff want to come back" suggest that many camps experienced higher staff retention and overall satisfaction.
  2. Staff Engagement and Caring: Lines like "They cared! About the kids, the mission, the job" and "More engagement (they wanted to spend time with kids)" indicate that staff were emotionally invested, not just clocking in and out.
  3. Effective Training and Problem-Solving: Mentions of "Medical emergencies handled exactly like we practiced," "Our training was way better this year," and "Solving staff problems on their own" suggest that training programs were effective and staff were empowered.

Common Threads in Challenges

  1. Mental Health and Burnout: I don't think this is a big surprise to any of us. Terms like "Burn out," "Mental health," and "Mitigating burn out" appear several times. It seems like staff well-being and mental stamina are widespread challenges.

  2. Staff & Leadership Disconnect: From "a small number of staff were REALLY upset at leadership but we never really got to understand why" to "Staff thinking/ getting mad at leadership when they did not create the magic," there's a disconnect somewhere in the communication or relationship between a lot of staffs and leadership. 

  3. Tech Distractions: "Keeping them off their phones," "Phone use," "Phone usage" indicate that device distractions are a constant battle in maintaining staff focus. BUT - I hope this doesn't make you swear off staff phones. We can work on this.

  4. Policy and Rule Adherence: From "Not following medical protocols" to "Vaping," it's clear that enforcing policies and ensuring everyone is on the same page is a recurring issue.

  5. Staff Turnover: Points like "Director quit partway through the summer for the 2nd year in a row!" and "Staff not sticking it out the whole summer" suggest that retaining staff for the full duration is a hurdle for some.

Common Threads in Feedback

I thought this one was interesting to ask because I think it helps shed light on whether things are unique problems or industry problems. You can see the unique answers in the Mentimeter, but the trends I found were:

  1. Training and Preparedness: Comments like "Didn’t think training was necessary, then complained they didn’t know how to deal with situations…" and "They want MORE training" suggest that the quality and necessity of training are topics of discussion among staff. Some seem to feel it's essential, while others underestimate its importance initially.

  2. Mental Health and Burnout: The feedback contains remarks such as "Camper behaviors and mental health issues were a challenge for them," "They felt burnout but never said anything," and "More support for mental health." This points to the mental strain staff are under and their need for more robust support systems.

  3. Work-Life Balance and Time Off: Notes like "Not getting enough time off" and "Time off wasn't restful enough" express the desire for better balance and scheduling.

  4. Communication: With statements like "Need clearer communication about rules and regulations," and "Didn't feel like they were kept in the loop about the 'why' behind decisions," it's evident that there's a need for better communication between leadership and staff.

This feedback has a lot of overlap with the staff challenges, which I think is really positive. It tells me that people are aware of what we need to work on. 

Thank You!

Thanks so much for being part of the conversation! You can find more resources on the debrief page.

Our debriefs are a lot like membership.

All of this info comes from people talking to people, which is what we do with members daily. We talk about everything from cell phones to schedules to raises and SO MUCH MORE. 

Allison KrabillAllison Krabill

Executive Director

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