If we’re being completely honest, the quality of a camp rises and falls with a single word: staff.
There are certainly numerous other factors that are important — facilities, programs, logistics, traditions, food, just to name a few — but talk to any director, parent or camper and they will all tell you that it’s all about the counselors. Our owner Adam’s father used to say that he could run a great camp in the desert with the right staff, and I believe that’s true.
Ok, now we all believe it’s the most important thing, so who are these guys?
I’d love to share a little bit about who they are, how we hire them, and where they are going.
Who are they?
The majority of our staff is comprised of college students, with various adult professionals mixed in. Our adult staff are RN’s, MDs, retired military personnel (our Riflery instructor and camper favorite Scott Reed), and college professors in outdoor education. They are the best at what they do. The vast majority of our college students are either former campers or referrals from our broad network of alumni, campus ministry partners, and families. We’ve watched many of them grow up into the outstanding young men they are today. In addition to being camp counselors during their summers, they are Eagle Scouts, Honors College students, RAs, missionaries, collegiate athletes, and Young Life leaders.
How do we hire them?
Very carefully. Only between 25-30% of applicants actually make it through our intentionally rigorous hiring process. Each candidate goes through several interviews, always culminating in a face to face (or Skype) with the the Director (me!). We check multiple references, run background and sex offender searches and do at least 60 hours of training with each counselor to ensure they are the right fit and properly equipped to care for our and lead our campers.
Where are they going next?
I tell parents all the time that when a counselor walks in, his campers want to be just like him. We take the responsibility of being a role model very seriously, which is why we are not just concerned with who our counselors are today, but also who they will be tomorrow, in 5 years and in 10 years. Although it is impossible to predict the future, looking at our staff’s short-term future plans enables us to see the direction and purpose in their lives. Here is a short list of what just a few of our current and former staff are headed to do in the next few years:
- Full time medical students at Baylor University
- First year Law student at Washington and Lee
- Teaching with the Memphis Teaching Residency, a program equipping the next generation of great educators in inner-city Memphis
- Naval Officer Candidacy School
- Graphic Designer
- BUD/S (Navy Seal selection and training)
- First year Seminary student at Covenant Seminary
- Professional Rock Climbing guide
- M.A. Candidate in management – Wake Forest
I could go on and on about the things our guys are doing, but I am most proud of who they are. They are, without exception, outstanding men of integrity and character, and we are proud they represent us as a camp and a community.
Nothing is more important to a great camp than staff, and no part of our camp is stronger than our counselors. Join us this summer.