A Kookie Idea On How to Become a Camp Director...

This is how my brain works… 

The best way to become a camp director, or really get any job, is to know the person making the hiring decision. The next best is to have an incredible recommendation from someone the person making the hiring decision trusts. This all only works if you are awesome/qualified at what you want to do. If the person hiring knows you and thinks you suck… That’s no good. More on this thesis here. How to become a camp director.

So now we have a new problem, how do we build relationships with people who might be hiring or people that the people hiring trust? Become a badass videographer. Hear me out. 

Video is King

Video is king is the hottest buzz in marketing. Some articles below.

This is Why Video is The Most Engaging Type of Content
3 Social Media Trends for 2018: Video is king

So if you are a badass (read probably only have to be mediocre) video creator you can help anyone that wants to sell anything without spending much money. Really you just need to use your time. 

If you can help people that need to sell things we have a new ven diagram. People that want to sell things and people hiring deciders (I am the decider) trust. Who is in that circle? Other camp directors, camp consultants, other youth development professionals… If you know a specific decider you could make a more specific list. 

He is what I would do after making a few, even mediocre, videos. Find the closest relatively popular camp consultant. I listed a few below, but there are plenty more. 

Sarah Kurtz Mckinnon - MI
Steve Maguire - MA
Dr. Chris Thurber - MA
Travis Allison - ON, CA
Beth Allison - ON, CA
Scott Arizala - MI

Send an Email

Send them an email, be honest, saying something like…

Subject: You Inspire Me. I’m Future Camp Director.

I am a college student and I love camp. What you do inspires me and I would to find a way to thank you. I am also a videographer, here is one of my videos. I would love to come to your next event or even just meet up at a park/camp/school and make a video for you. For free of course.

Anyway! Thank you again, please let me know if that is something I could do for you. OH! And just so you don’t think I am a creep or something. I worked at Camp Stomping Ground last summer. You can email or call the director there to make sure I am a reasonable person. 
Jack Schott - 


All those people above are great, generous, kind people that would probably take you up on this offer. One, because it would help them, but even more because they would want to help you.

Now Make The Video

Then make a great video for them. After, do it again for three or four more people. AND! If you do it for someone like Steve, he is super tight with Scott, Chris, and Kurtz so my guess is he would help you connect with the next person. 

Now, you have three-five videos make for some of the most influential consultants in camp. When you apply for your next job ask them to send a quick email to the person doing the hiring explaining their work with you. 

I have never seen anyone do anything like this in the camp industry and it wouldn’t work for every camp job, but my bet is this would land you a job over the next twelve months. If you are good. If you are qualified and have some track record as a seasonal staff leader. 

**** Kurtz and I are dreaming up a month long seasonal leaders training aimed at helping middle managers, unit leaders, assistant directors, division heads, and more be the most effective this summer. If you would be interested in learning more as that comes together check this out and fill out the super quick form.  *****

--> Seasonal Leadership Program <--

Schott Jack.jpg


Camping Coast to Coast Staff Tour 2018

I have a ridiculous idea.

In 2015, Laura and I ran a trip for teens from camps across the country. We got in a van and visited 7 camps over 17 days in the Pacific Northwest. Along the way we visited national parks, learned a ton, and made lasting friendships. It was amazing.

Being able to see different camps in action and debrief with like minded camp folks from across the country was transformative. Each camp was uniquely different while at the same time being remarkably similar. It pushed all of us to think differently about what was possible, what made camp camp, and gave us enormorse insight into what our impact might be. We stayed up late talking about the power of camp and imagining ridiculous ideas for what we might create some day.


Ever since that trip, Laura and I have wanted to be able to offer something similar. Something that could give that wider perspective and possibility in a short period of time to passionate potential camp directors. With the growth of Stomping Ground from one week in 2015, to three in 2016, and four in 2017 we just couldn’t find the time to facilitate another trip.

Here’s my ridiculous idea…

What if we could put together a program where a group of 5-10 amazing staff (18+) traveled together visiting and working at a handful of camps. Learning from the different way things are done, working with experts and making a little money as you went. What if this cohort of passionate camp staff went on an adventure like this...

Training and Volunteering at Camp TBD (Jun 4-16)

Advanced Autism & Diversity Training w/ Sylvia van Meerten(Jun 17-20)

Training and Working at Camp Stomping Ground(Jun 21- Aug 4)

Traveling and Visiting a Couple Camps (Aug 5 - 11)

Training and Volunteering at Camp Highlight(Aug 10-19)

Volunteering at Camp Tall Tree (Back with Sylvia Aug 20-25)

*** This schedule is preliminary and will change


Plus make some money

Here’s the fun part! Because you would work a bunch of weeks at Stomping Ground, Stomping Ground could cover the cost of the program and pay you a stipend, probably about $1,000. Not a ton of money, but getting paid to travel, learn, and play with kids is pretty awesome.

This is exactly how I would have loved to spend a summer while I was in college. Instead of wondering what other camps were like, go out and see them. You will get to work with camps pushing the limits with what is possible with kids in a variety of settings, build authentic relationships with a bunch of camp directors and camp staff, and have a better understanding of what a career in camp might look like.

This program isn’t for everyone. It will be hard and requires a willingness to work hard, think creatively, and try new things. We are looking for passionate camp folks looking to make an impact, learn a ton, and push themselves and the cohort to new levels. If that sounds like you, sign up to learn more about the application process.


Jack Schott
Camp Director/Founder
Camp Stomping Ground

The Best Investment Your Camp Can Make Is In You

The Summer Camp Society’s first cohort is amazing.

We have 24 passionate, compassionate, and driven camp professionals striving to better themselves and their camps. It is inspiring to meet with them each week. We have talked about budgets, program design, diversity and inclusion, design thinking, and so much more. Every meeting is full of laughter, a-ha moments, and community building. Facilitating The Summer Camp Society has reinforced for me that the best investment camps can make is in their leadership.

Being a great camp leader is hecking hard.

It means managing the culture, program, finances, staff, parent interactions, and so much more. Each week as we get together, I realize that The Summer Camp Society is solving one problem above all others: We are building an authentic community of driven camp professionals. That the community we are building is so much more valuable than any one piece of advice or simple take away. Don’t get me wrong Kurtz has really incredible advice and almost always a specific takeaway from each meeting, but what Kurtz is the best in the world at is facilitating the community.


As I reflected on this, I realized the best resource I have as a camp professional is the greater community. This past summer at Stomping Ground, we had 13 kids throwing up on the second day of camp. 13 out of 110. We are not designed for that. We were not prepared for that. In 2013 Laura and I had worked at a camp on the west coast that had had the norovirus. Ninety of about 150 campers and about half of the staff got sick and were vomiting within the first 72 hours of camp. We shut camp down for two weeks. It was horrifying. This is what we thought was happening at Stomping Ground this summer. As the third or fourth camper got sick, I called Marty Ferguson, whom I knew had experience with the norovirus at a camp he previously directed. He gave us some advice and helped us think through our options. Mostly he helped us stay calm. Luckily, we got ahead of this sickness or it ran its course. We ended up not having the norovirus or food poisoning. The department of health investigated and let us know it was just some other less severe 24-hour flu type sickness.



At Stomping Ground, we have been desperate to be more inclusive of gender-expansive campers and had very little experience with it, so when we met Kayla and Jess at Brave Trails, we quickly asked if we could come volunteer. Since then, we regularly call and email when we have questions about inclusion, but more than that--when we just need to talk about what little problems we are all overcoming as new, small not-for-profits. The hours we have spent talking about fundraising, culture creation, recruiting, and more have saved us days of work and made Stomping Ground dramatically better.

The point is camp is a relationships business. This is true with the kids who are at camp, the parents, and with the leadership. I often forget that instead of banging my head against the wall trying to solve a Stomping Ground problem by myself that the best thing to do is just call one of the hundreds of camp directors I know that may have had a similar problem, idea, or struggle.

I am spoiled.

I lucked into building a huge network from my trip around the country visiting 200 camps. Not everyone has that opportunity, and especially new camp pros who don’t have much of a network yet. That’s what we are trying to solve for with The Summer Camp Society. We are building a community where camp professionals can break the ice and build authentic connections with camp leaders across the country. These connections are unique because they span geographic regions, interest groups, agencies, whatever. We get a chance to learn from new camps, old camps, big camps, small camp, not-for-profits and for profits. It is truly amazing.

The best part is that it is fun. Similar to camp, it seems like something this fun shouldn’t also be good for you. Building a personal network is great for your career, but more than that, it is great for your camp. Every little idea we get is because we meet someone who has tried an ambassador program, built a new dining hall, or just has a better way to design a brochure. This helps you grow, but it also helps your camp. If the best camps have the best leaders, the best way to be a better camp is to grow the camp leadership.

Kurtz and I are excited about the potential of our camp community, and found that we can accelerate the process of building an authentic, powerful, and supportive camp community for emerging camp professionals. We loved doing it this fall with our first group of 24 fellows, and we can’t wait to do it again.



So, this spring we want to run second cohort of The Summer Camp Society. You can read all about it here. The main points: We meet weekly for discussion groups and have weekly projects. You build a network and join us for the spring conference. The conference is only be available to past and current members of The Summer Camp Society and the goal of the conference and The Society is to push the conversation forward through community, connection, and collaboration.

If you believe joining a community that shares ideas and helps each other is the best way to grow as a professional and as a camp, then The Summer Camp Society might be for you. Take a look, apply, or send us an email and let’s talk more. The Summer Camp Society is and will always be a work in progress. Expect things to change morph and grow and know that the biggest takeaways will be in the relationships, unexpected moments, and laughter we share as a group.



Let us know if you would like to chat with some current members

“Being a part of The Summer Camp Society has given me more than I could ever ask for. Every week I feel inspired to do more for not only my camp, but for myself professionally. Meeting and speaking with other directors has allowed me to broaden my views, deepen my thoughts, and further ignite my passion for this industry.”  

-Maggie Mitchell

(585) 451-5141

The Summer Camp Society empowers emerging leaders to give all kids the best possible camp experience. It is a collaboration of Sarah Kurtz Mckinnon and Jack Schott to help young camp pros be the best versions of themselves.