Camp Woodland Blog

A Peek Into Pre-Camp Staff Training

Posted by on June 20, 2022

Around thirty Woodland staff have arrived safely to County D Road and now the huge task of getting everybody ready for the 53rd Camp Woodland summer begins. It goes without saying that some things just happen almost by themselves – the sun comes out, the sky turns blue and the cabins seem to gleam against the backdrop of pine and hardwood trees – but that’s just a small part of summer. Camp just wouldn’t be the same without the amazing people, both campers and counselors alike, who become our friends and surrogate family for just a few weeks.

Our staff this year comes from 10 states and Mexico – that’s a lot of air and road miles clocked up just getting here! Our staff are some of the best in their field and it is testament to Camp Woodland’s reputation that they want to spend the summer sharing these skills with others. The passion, the drive and commitment of all our staff is evident and unquestionable, but how do we get everybody to come together and create a unique summer experience for the youth heading our way in a few days?  That is what pre-camp orientation is all about!


Firstly, it’s a time to make new friends and to form community and working relationships that will provide the support, guidance and instruction for our campers. Co-counselors are spending time getting cabins squeaky clean and learning how to be a united team. In a fun “Big Deal or No Big Deal” session, counselors do activities that showcase the importance of communication, problem solving and trust. They answer questions and compare notes about living habits and preferences, leadership styles, and professionalism/work ethic. Activity Directors are working with their staff to plan classes and prepare their areas for the weeks ahead. Calla is working hard to pull all these great ideas into a structured program, and you can be assured that this summer is looking awesome!

Secondly, it’s about acquiring or building on the skills that make for a safer, healthier and (most importantly) happier summer for us all. For new staff, this means such simple things as learning the structure of the camp day, camp expectations, and how meals work in the dining hall. There’s a range of talks from youth development professionals (we have a strong bench of educators on our team!) on issues such as camper concerns, behavior, child protection and mental health. Several Woodland staff members are parents themselves and this offers our college age counselors a wealth of experience they can fall back on. It’s not only about learning what to do, but also who to turn to when back-up is needed.

Finally, being perfectly honest, pre-camp orientation is also about having fun. On Friday night the large majority of staff met each other the first time. The few nervous faces quickly disappeared once we ate dinner together and were playing games to get to know each other. On Saturday evening, we went to Towering Pines for an official welcome from the leadership team, insight into the history of both camps, and a burger/hot dog/brat cookout. After dinner we had our annual “Everybody Plays Everybody Wins” skill session with big and small group games followed by s’mores at the Counselor Cabin. Inspiration Hour on Sunday was spent setting our intent to be the best version of ourselves so that collectively we make camp the BEST it can possibly be. We did this by doing several exercises that helped us clarify our personal values and our part to upholding Woodland’s 5 core values.

All this fun has a purpose though, whether a returner or new staff member, we all have something to learn which can make this summer absolutely AMAZING. Anticipation is rising for the arrival of the campers – we wish the next few days would just hurry up as we can’t wait to meet you all!