Camp Woodland Blog

We are in the Business of Construction!

Keep reading, this is still the Camp Woodland Blog.   I had a great opportunity to attend the 2016 American Camp Association Midstates Conference in Illinois. It is an annual training opportunity for over 700 camp professionals from various midwest states to learn and keep making camp experiences great for campers, staff, alumni, and parents! It is an energizing weekend where I could learn and immediately add techniques and activities to my toolbox: from a new simple camp game to learning new techniques to build engaging staff training activities.

4-up on 4-8-16 at 2.46 PM (compiled)

Susan, Joanne, and myself having a little fun before learning new things 🙂

I also got to be “Michael Brandweined”. Ah, yes, I totally pulled a Calvin Hobbs and verbed a person’s name. But I believe Michael has earned the right to be verbed. Michael Brandwein is an internationally recognized expert on management, communication, leadership, team-building, and customer service. Anyone who produced and performed with Jim Henson’s Muppets has got my attention!


But I digress from my story……Michael was one of the Keynote speakers of the conference, and he talked about the vision of camp and our professional responsibility to camp. He first had us fill in the blanks:

We teach skills for life in a safe, fun, loving place!

Simple but deep statement and then followed up by getting the whole audience to repeat after him:

“We are the in the business of Construction and we build great kids!”

I heard it the first time and thought yup, that is exactly right, Camp Woodland is in the business of Construction, and we definitely specialize in building great kids. Then we (the audience of 700 camp professionals) were asked again, what is our business and the response got louder, “We are in the business of construction and we build great kids!!” I was now in a room with fully engaged directors and staff who are in the business of construction. There is nothing better than being in a room of 700 energized camp representatives!

LightbulbThe lightbulb was now blinking in my brain – Michael you have my attention, but how do we build great kids? Then there it was, as if Michael and I were having a one on one conversation, he took his vision to the next level. (Ps. this is what he is internationally known for).

Michael continued, we build great kids by developing a nurturing, positive environment for them to learn in. I am paraphrasing of course because Michael is a genius at articulating a big vision, and I am still learning this technique. So instead I will give you the example that he used of an adult/counselor reacting to a child/camper using his vision in the following themes:

  • Problem solving: “We’ve got a problem, this is a good one! How can we solve this? What our options??”
  • Team Work: “Let’s try to do this together”
  • Persistence: “Let’s try again. This is a hard one!”
  • The Mantra: “We can do hard things”

Wow! As I am writing this down, I am thinking, I am going to try this as a parenting technique too. Sure enough, instead of accusing my children or negatively anchoring on the problem of spilling milk or not sharing or not listening (we have all been there), I changed my tone and redirected. The outcome was miraculous!

Maddie (frustrated 4 year old): I spilled my milk – everywhere!

Me (in a happier tone): Oops! We have got a problem, this is a good one! How can we solve this? What our options??”

Maddie: Well Mommy, I think I can clean it up but I can’t reach the paper towels.

Me: Let’s try to do this together. I will get you the paper towel if you wipe the milk

Maddie: Thank you for helping me. I really didn’t mean to spill my milk

Me: We can do hard things Maddie girl!

Micheal ended his presentation with this statement, “What they “see” is how they will “be”. It’s true, children of any age want to emulate what they see in their life. They are demanding tools to learn to be “grownups”. So by training our counselors to focus on a solution instead of the problem, they can provide campers the tools to be caring, do hard things and be great grownups!

Camp Woodland is proud to be in the business of construction!

Camp Woodland is proud to be in the business of construction!

Parents, I am so glad we are partnering with you in the business of Construction and specializing in building great kids! Our goal as camp professionals is to build a positive, nurturing environment where we teach skills for life in a safe, fun, loving place!



I am truly greatful to be part of the team Where Everything Clicks in 1-6!


Me and my family!