Staff Training’s All-Star Line Up
As JCC Chicago Apachi, Chi and Chavayah camp directors, we sometimes joke that to be successful in our jobs, we need to know a little about everything. We are equal parts social workers, nurses, drum majors, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, referees, guides, artists, gardeners, lifeguards, chefs, parents, carpenters and coaches. In fact, this is true for our whole profession. When the American Camp Association set out to create a list of core skills and knowledge basis for camp directors, they identified 13 Core Competencies that include areas such as human resources management, youth development and evaluation.
We do our best to apply everything we know to training our staff each summer. Every year we invest countless hours in enhancing, redesigning and rethinking how we orient our summer staff to their jobs. We believe that what we put into the weeks of staff training directly affects the outcomes of what kids gain at camp.
Even with our years of camp experience, we look to other professionals to provide additional insight and motivation for our staff. This year’s guest speakers are particularly diverse and outstanding. The following experts are leading training sessions at one or more of our camps:
Danielle Goldman, Keshet Behavioral Consultant, explains age-appropriate behaviors, how to help campers transition between activities and the best ways to provide positive reinforcement.
Sgt. Gerald Grimsled Jr., Sauk County Emergency Response Team and DAAT Instructor, orients staff to think about safety and risk management in Camp Chi’s unique, residential setting.
Mark Jacobson, social worker at Matthews Middle School in Wauconda, facilitates meaningful team building games for staff that can also be used with campers.
Todd Kessler, musician, Camp Chi alumnus and former contestant on The Voice, prepares staff for Shabbat and music at camp by teaching songs and techniques to get kids involved in singing.
Shira Miller, Certified Child Life Specialist at Rush University Medical Center and Apachi alumna, provides a new lens for understanding child development that assists staff with how to appropriately offer choices and consequences to encourage positive behavior.
Jim Neucomb, Director of Security at JFMC Facilities Corporation, role plays and reviews situations at camp with the goal of keeping everyone calm and safe.
Jennifer Phillips, Director of Recreation at Keshet, introduces the concept of social inclusion and skills that can be used to help all kids be successful at camp.
Rachel Schwartz, JCC Chicago’s Manager of Social Services, meets with counselors in our youngest units to discuss challenging behaviors, language to use in delicate situations and how to create visual schedules.
Greg Forbes Siegman, Founder of The 11-10-02 Foundation and co-author of The First Thirty, engages staff to think about what seemingly small things they can do to have a big, positive impact on the lives of kids.
Cayla Weisberg, nationally-recognized entrepreneur and Partner at InvestHER Ventures, motivates staff to see how they can make a difference in campers’ lives that becomes part of a lasting legacy.
Rachel Zimmerman, Coordinator of Project Shield, educates staff on how to ensure safe boundaries with campers.
Rabbi Zvi Zimmerman, Mashgiach Ruchani of Hebrew Theological College, inspires staff to embrace and value their positions as Jewish role models for campers.
Staff Training has gotten off to a fantastic start thanks largely in part to these awesome guests, many of whom are volunteers. It truly takes a village to provide our staff with the best foundation for success in their jobs at our day and overnight camps.
Our awesome staff will be absolutely ready for when campers arrive and are eager to continue learning all summer long.