Are you staffing a Village or Step Up this season? Here are 5 tips to create a dynamic, supportive, and fun staff group!
Different from other roles within a CISV programme, staff start their job way before the beginning of the official camp – from getting a group together, deciding on a camp name and theme, and planning logistics to getting everything set up for the arrival of leaders and participants.
Throughout camp, staff are the engine in charge of making sure everything works smoothly. They become a 24/7 support for all, leaders and participants, with the aim of making the programme the best it can be. Staffing is an incredibly rewarding and fun role – nonetheless, it also brings different conflicts and challenges that have to be tackled and worked through.
Here are 5 tips to bring the best out of your staff group this programme season:
- Communication: Open. Honest. Respectful.
Communication is essential for teamwork. As a staff group, you will be spending a lot of time with your team making sure everything at camp runs as smoothly as possible. Communicating with your team members and doing so with honesty and respect will create a dynamic where everyone’s voice is heard and valued. It is important to create an open environment where all members feel comfortable enough to share their feelings or opinions about all the diverse topics and challenges that face during programmes. Ask your team members about their work dynamics, how they liked to be approached, in what kind of setting they feel the most comfortable to share their feelings, etc. Communicating honestly and getting to know your co-staffs is the way to create a strong and committed team!
The staff group has countless responsibilities before, during, and after the programme. These responsibilities can easily get overwhelming as you try and make sure everything gets done – it can get hectic! It is important to be organized and delegate responsibilities between the group. Delegate responsibilities in a way that is equal and logical between the group, considering people’s skills and backgrounds. There might be responsibilities that only the Camp Director can be in charge of, for example being the contact person with the Chapter and National Risk Manager. If you have an International Staff as part of your team, this person might not feel comfortable dealing with logistics in excursions due to lack of knowledge of the area or language. They might be great at overseeing the Educational Content of camp. Maybe one of your Staff members is great at numbers and enjoys working with that – this might be the right choice for the person in charge of money and payments. Try to make sure responsibilities are delegated equally and ask your staff members to share which responsibilities they feel the most comfortable dealing with. Don’t forget – as a Staff Team, you’re always in charge. Every member has different responsibilities, but you should always be open and ready to give a hand wherever is needed.
- Check-ins and Feedback
During the programme, it is important for the staff group to be on top of responsibilities and deadlines. Having daily Check-ins with the group is a fantastic way to have a general idea of what’s happening at camp. Create a Daily To-Do List. You can have a 15 minute check-in meeting in the morning to review all the things that need to get done that day. Every day of camp is different and you can’t always foresee what will happen. During the Check-in, every member can give a little update on their responsibilities. If there’s more help needed in one of them, maybe there is a big excursion coming up and the whole staff is needed to structure the logistics of the day, maybe a health issue has come up with a participant and one of the staffs has taken the delegate to the hospital so another member of the group needs to take charge of those responsibilities for a bit. The main idea about the Check-in and Performance Review is to keep the group updated and in a constant state of learning. We are not perfect, and as staffs we can fail sometimes. Reviewing what works (or doesn’t) in that specific camp, with that specific group of leaders and participants, is essential to keep developing new dynamics and approaches to help the camp be successful and also deal with problems in the best of ways.
- Make Decisions Together and Embrace the Differences
As a staff group, you will have to make decisions about countless things. Some might be very easy and simple, some might take a little while to figure out, and some might have to be decided very quickly. Again, you can’t foresee what will happen everyday. When an issue comes up, sit down together, analyze what has happened, and give everyone a chance to express their opinion on it. Diversity is one of the main content areas of CISV and we should always be open to hearing different perspectives and creating a common solution to a problem. Making decisions should be based on open and honest dialogue between staff, a space where ideas and solutions to problems are shared. Staff members should have the support and commitment of their fellow staffs not only when making decisions but also when carrying them out.
- ENJOY: You Are as Much a Part of the Camp as Everyone Else
Staffs have plenty of work and responsibilities during the programme, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be part of the activities and all the fun during camp. You might not be able to be part of every single activity but try to be part of as much as you can. During free time, hang out with the participants and leaders, enjoy meal times, and get to know more about the people in the camp, if you want to be part of a specific planning group for an activity, join in! The involvement of staff in everyday camp-life has a phenomenal effect on the development of the programme – and it’s also fun- so that is a win-win for everybody! Have fun with your staff group, it doesn’t have to be work, work, work all the time. During Delegation Time, do something fun with your staff group, laugh, chill, and enjoy – it’s also part of your role!
On behalf of the Conflict and Resolution Annual Content Area Working Group,