Behind the Scenes

“Oh, you’re a day camp director. That must be fun. What do you do the rest of the year?”

When day camp directors hear this they just stare in amazement. At the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, by the time the campers board their buses and arrive at our sites, our agency day camp directorshave already been working for ten months to get things organized to make camp run like a well-oiled machine.Their off-season work (this is how camp directors refer to the rest of the year when camp in not in session) ensures that campers and their families have the best summer ever. So much preparation takes place then, from evaluating the past season to recruiting for the next, and camp directors are always looking to see how they can improve on the previous season.

The buses arrive at camp on the first day.

Here’s a brief glimpse of what camp directors do during the off season to make camp happen:

  • they review evaluations from parents and staff
  • they review their experience at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds with the HKC leadership in order to maximize their experience for the following summer
  • they evaluate their camp program
  • they review staff evaluations and recruit and hire staff for the next year
  • they recruit and register campers
  • they review and revise their marketing materials
  • they follow day camp trends to see what the “hot topics” or new programs are
  • they review safety and security plans in partnership with HKC leadership
  • they plan out the entire camp program including arranging all the fabulous special events
  • they plan multi-day staff trainings which cover such topics as child development, discipline, programming, safety and security, emergency procedures that take place in the days before the campers arrive

And then the first day of camp happens and it all looks seamless.

When asked about staff training, important issues they were covering, new programs, or special events that they are looking forward to, here’s what some of our HKC agency camp directors said:

Jessica Wolf Spiegel, camp director of New Country Day Camp, is looking forward to continuing the Jewish education mentorship program she began last summer with her unit heads and local Jewish professionals. She said, “We’ve got a great group of mentors this year.” Jessica is extremely excited to be doing, “a sustainable snack initiative where a local farm will be delivering fresh picked fruit at least one day a week so that we lessen our environmental impact on the world this summer.”

Camp directors, Glenn Wechsler and Stephanie Feldman, at the Lillian Schwartz Day Camp said, “An especially important topic to us and HKC is camp safety and emergency procedures and we had a detective from the NYPD train our lead staff on how to best protect our campers under various circumstances.” As for new programs, they are partnering with Xioalin Martial Arts School on Staten Island to offer a quality karate program to their campers and are especially excited about the July 4th celebration with a barbecue, flag raising ceremony, the National Anthem performed by their talented campers and staff, and a special camp staff driven show for the campers.

Mitch Karp, camp director at the Central Queens Y, has been hard at work with his staff to create unity and seamless transitions between the two sister camps that the Central Queens Y offers – the Long Island based experience on the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds and the Queens based Explorer Camp. Mitch said, “For 2012 unity and learning new ways of doing things is our theme.”

Violetta Shmulenzon, camp director at JCH of Bensonhurst, told us about a fabulous retreat they do annually with their staff as part of their staff training. “June 14th-17th we took nearly all 100 members of our camp team away for our annual 4 day training Shabbaton – spending a weekend of bonding, improving our knowledge of child care techniques, and celebrating the first Shabbat of the summer season!”

As you can see, our agency camps have worked very hard to create a meaningful summer experience for your children. When they get off the bus each day, ask them, “What did you do today?” Each answer you receive will demonstrate firsthand how a camp director’s work in the off season makes every camp day great!

Camp staff during a planning meeting.

Campers learn about growing fruits and vegetables.

Children learn about taking care of the earth at camp.

When they get off the bus each day, ask them “What did you do today?”

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