As many of you know, during the year I am a high school Biology teacher in New York .  Although I don’t get to work in the camp office during the year, I do work on preparing for the next summer every free chance I get.  I love to plan and organize and create meaningful and fun programs for our campers and staff.  On March 13-15 I had the privileage of attending the ACA TriStates Conference in Atlantic City New Jersey.  This conference provides a unique opportunity for me to further my camping knowledge and skills through professional led sessions dealing with everything from camper and staff management to programming and team building.  I attended several great sessions.  Perhaps my favorite was a session on effective meeting management and keys to staying focused despite the circumstances led by Diana Bloom (my organizational soulmate).  She focuses in on the importance of being prepared and setting appropriate expectations in terms of managing your staff and time. Another great session I attended, was led by Jay Frankel about Us versus Them.  He taught me to look for ways to recognize an “us versus them” situation among the staff and limit its impact on the community.  He is a very experienced presenter and offered a ton of insight into this concept.  I also attended a session on camp cooking in a bag.  This interesting session focused on outdoor camp cooking in unconventional ways using box ovens, coffee cans, and paper bags.  It will be exciting to work with Jonny Fenner this summer to implement some of these concepts in the Outdoor Adventure program.  Another nice thing about the ACA Tristates, is the opportunity to connect with other program staff, that are members of the AIJC.  It is great to be able to discuss with other successful program staff, what programs are working well at their camps and what exciting things are they looking to program in the future.

 

The ACA Tristates conference also includes a large vendor fair where we have the opportunity to sample new camp food items, try out the latest fun activity, look to replace camp equipment and find the next cool gadgets to have at camp.    I saw a lot of interesting and fun supplies that I cannot wait to purchase and incorporate into summer 2017!  Perhaps the most rewarding aspects of Tristates, is getting to spend time with the full time camp staff, who I consider, my family.  We have this work hard/play hard ethic that is just so much fun to be in the presence of.  On another note, time spent working with Jaymez Clark is always extremely valuable and productive.  He is a fantastic programmer who really “gets” camp and is a rock star when it comes to thinking outside the box! I am so grateful that he is a part of my team!

 

Prior to this years conference I also had the rare opportunity to spend the weekend with Joel Bennett, Michael Wax, Jaymez Clark, and Cheryl and Ron Kaplan.  As a team that often operates behind the scenes, we have a lot of input on how the day to day camp activities and all camp programs function logistically.  Having all of us in one room, able to work face to face, without the pressures of the camp day, is priceless.  We were able to debrief the previous summer and make adjustments and plans for the current summer.  We came up with this years Maccabiah and Banquet Themes and played around with a new fun activity called the breakout room.  What I love about our team is that we never sit back on our laurels but instead ask ourselves, “how can we improve this, how can we take this to the next level?”  With this in mind we can attack each summer with a sense of intentionality.  I believe that this is what separates us from other camps.

 

Here’s to a fantastic summer 2017!!!  I cannot wait!

~Kim Bird