Summer 2019 Starts with a Surge
Summer 2019 is underway here at Stomping Ground! I am Nigel Sullivan and I am running the SG blog while we are at camp this year. We have been waiting all year to be back at this place and make wonderful memories with and for our campers. I am so honored to share stories from staff all summer to highlight the work we are lucky to do at camp. I am excited to share the following story about our first day at our site this summer. If that day is any foreshadowing, we are going to have a wild and successful summer!
Our staff training took place at a different site than our camp program is taking place this summer. After a week of team-building, playing, and learning from one another, we made the 3-hour trip from Watertown, NY to Deposit, NY to move into our home for the rest of the summer. As the previous users of the property were moving out, we had only 22 hours to set up ALL OF CAMP before campers arrived for ArtsFest. 22 hours. We normally have ALL of staff training to get camp ready, but this year, our circumstances limited us to only the day before.
Jack and Laura gathered the staff on the far side of the lake and told us the situation. We had our work cut out for us. They were hopeful we could get most of what we need to get done before 3pm the next day when our campers were arriving. We needed to clean cabins, remove all of the materials of the previous users of the site, clean the dining hall, kitchen, auxiliary rooms in the dining hall, unpack and move all of our stuff into the appropriate places, hang signs, fix lights, fold merchandise, welcome new staff and volunteers, and make this space feel like home for all of the people who had only just seen the place for the first time today.
We. Got. To. Work.
We split into teams and tackled each task with efficiency, can-do attitude, willingness to help, and plenty of smiles and laughter. The weather was friendly, and we took full advantage. Unpacking the UHaul, repacking the UHaul, transforming spaces, wiping bunks, designing the Lava Barn, and many more tasks filled the next few hours. By the time 9:30 rolled around, we were sitting in the dining hall, watching a slideshow of pictures from staff training, with about 85% of camp ready to go for the next afternoon. It was unbelievable. Camps don’t get set up from scratch in one day. It just doesn’t happen. But we had enough people who believed in each other and ourselves to get most of camp ready to go in just a few hours. The next morning, we finished up some last tasks and polished camp up to welcome our campers.
What stood out to me was the excellent work ethic of our staff and the candor of Jack and Laura in keeping us in the loop. We were respected enough to be told the reality of the less-than-fortunate circumstances, and we, as a staff, responded accordingly. I hope this will be a theme of this summer. Even as circumstances may sour, honest and open leadership from our directors will inspire strong, excited, and capable behavior from our staff. We have staff new and returning, and our camp setup helped solidify what staff training taught us. We must lean on one another, learn from one another, keep our heads up, and remember why we are here: to help create amazing experiences for the campers that come to Stomping Ground.
Our summer is just beginning but our staff feels united. I am thankful our staff had the opportunity to face this challenge of the one-day move-in and rose with the occasion. I’m sure other challenges will arise this summer, and I cannot wait to see our staff work, falter, and succeed together.