The following blog post originally appeared at The Camp Blog, an online resource for Summer Camp Directors and was written by our very own Program Director – Scott Rosenbluth. Check It Out:
If you are a staff member at a summer camp or a child development expert – you have most likely come across a Bob Ditter video, book, article, philosophy or something along those lines during your tenure. For me, I have seen it and heard it all – from “good touch, bad touch” to the importance of head-counts and how incredibly important your co-counselor is during the course of a summer. But, through everything I have ever read, watched or learned from Mr. Ditter, the thing that made the most impact on me than anything else I’ve heard was his session at this year’s EPIC (Emerging Professionals In Camping) Pre-Event at the 2011 Tri State Camp Conference – “Understanding Today’s Children and The Big Picture for Camp Professionals”.
It is no secret that today’s children are glued to screens; computers, tvs, cell phones, iPads, iPhones, Blackberrys, you name it. The real question is how do we stop analyzing the numbers and statistics – develop a plan -and utilize this knowledge over the course of a summer.
We all know what camp can do for children, but the kids that will be arriving at our camps and youth programs about 100 days from now are different then those who joined us twenty years ago or even last summer. The key to a successful camp season in 2011 will be educating our leadership staff and counselors to understand our campers and communicate in a way that will make sense for kids but also ensure they are comfortable within our efforts to communicate.
Here are four simple suggestions from Bob Ditter that we as camp professionals can teach to our staff and apply to our conversations and communications with our campers:
- CHARITY – Don’t underestimate the importance of “small talk”. Our kids should know that we know who they are, we know what they like, and we can relate to them in one way or another.
- CLARITY – Talk in bullet points, be clear, and give examples.
- BREVITY – Understand that kids focus and attention spans are dwindling. Be sure to keep it brief.
- LEVITY – Tone and body language is everything. Regardless of the “type” of conversation you may be having, keeping your cool and keeping the conversation light is crucial to successful communication.
The reason I am sharing this information with you is simple. This is something we need to do as camp professionals. In an industry driven by children we need to be sure that we understand TODAY’S CAMPER and quite frankly – TODAY’S STAFF. Applying those four simple items to our everyday communications will make a big difference within our programs – but even more importantly, to today’s campers.
Thank You to EPIC and Tri-State 2011 AND Thank You to Bob Ditter – it took a while, but I have officially been Ditterized.