LEAD Conference

This event is sponsored by the American Camp Association and brings together camp leaders that range in grade from Freshman to Junior year of High School. LEAD has been designed to educate teen leaders on leadership, communication and professionalism as it relates to camp and also how these skills transfer to the “real world”.

Our campers had the opportunity to hear a panel of non-camp professionals who have used their skills learned at camps in their careers. Panelists included Phaeton Bolton, the coordinator of the NBA Cares Program which is the social responsibility division of the NBA; Brad Heller, the morning sports anchor at WCBS Newsradio 880; and Melissa Samuels, the marketing and brand strategy manager for Conductor, a provider of SEO services platforms. The panelists were able to connect lessons learned at camp and how it has made them better in their professional lives.

Sessions about Leadership and Communication were hosted by seasoned camp directors. Our campers were split into two smaller and benefited from hearing a range of speakers that challenged them to think about their own leadership and communication skills as it pertains to camp, transitioning to counselors, and in their lives outside of camp. They participated in a games and ice breakers session which gave them great ideas for camp, especially when working with the younger campers and helping them get adjusted to camp life. There was a lot of laughing done by all.

The day ended with the keynote address by, Steve Maguire. Steve is a school educator and camp training consultant. He is well known in the industry as being a dynamic speaker who relates well to campers, teens, staff, and parents. The overwhelming message of his talk was challenging the teens in the room to step back before excepting a job at camp and analyzing whether returning to camp as a counselor is about the kids and that, in order to be a successful camp counselor, one needs to be committed to their campers and continuously having a positive attitude on the job.

It was an incredible day of sharing, learning, and growing together. We had the chance to debrief over lunch and below are some of the quotes from the follow-up emails the campers shared. We look forward to the LEAD conference being a part of the Watitoh culture and continuing to be active participants in growing our campers in their leadership and communication skills.

“I learned that in order to be successful while working at a camp, you need to have good communication skills. It is vital that counselors communicate with the campers, co-counselors, head counselor, and the directors… I also learned that in order to be a strong, successful leader, you also need to be your best self and always be happy… I also learned that the little things really help everyone be more open with each other. When we played the games at the conference, everyone was laughing and it automatically felt as if we all knew each other forever, even though we just met them no more than 2 hours before. Playing these types of games will help the new and young campers feel more open to the older campers. I now really get the sense why Hi-Gal is such a great evening activity. I always thought of it as a way to introduce everyone, but I now also see it is an ice breaker. –TIC2 Camper