Posted by Ben Harris
We are adding a brand new position at camp! The primary focus for this new person will be the continuous training and mentorship of the orcs, our counselors-in-training. We want this person to be a dedicated resource for orcs, someone they can come to with questions, concerns, or ideas, but also someone they can rely on to understand their individual strengths and weaknesses and provide them with meaningful support and constructive feedback as to how they can continuously improve and be more effective in their role at camp. Such constant feedback and support will undoubtedly accelerate the rate at which orcs acquire and practice new skills, help them to feel and become more efficacious in their work, and bolster aspects of their confidence necessary to more effectively lead campers at camp (and, more generally, groups of people in other settings).
Beyond that, we are also in the process of developing a clearly articulated teen leadership program at camp. This is a brand new aspect of the orc program, and will help them to understand specific camp-related behaviors (for example: patiently and carefully building a relationship with a shy camper; being silly in a skit in front of the whole camp; asking critical questions) as generalized principles (being a good leader for everyone; challenging yourself; how to appropriately ask for and receive constructive feedback, etc.). In the same way that we work with staff to understand their responsibilities at camp as generalizable to life beyond Riverlea, we want to help the orcs develop an understanding of and be able to articulate the value of work at camp as it relates to broader workplace, interpersonal, and life skills.
This value of this new position can not be understated. For the first time, there will be a specific person whose first priority is supporting and mentoring our volunteers. And, because of this support, the rate at which each orc expands and grows into her or his potential will increase dramatically. All orcs will be better at working and connecting with the campers because of this mentorship and our new teen leadership program. Second, this person allows Annie and I to focus more clearly on supporting staff as they continue to develop new content-rich and meaningful lessons for all of our campers. Our program quality will continue to improve as counselors receive more support and resources to commit to creating and leading engaging activities. Third, the orcs will be part of a more structured leadership program that encourages creativity, increases self-efficacy, and connects them more closely to each other and to the campers. Everyone at camp will feel the immediate benefit of this new position at camp. The hardest part will be waiting until summer to see what happens next.