A Deliberate Delay
The camp year is usually quite cyclical. Registration opens late August/early September each year, with early bird closing late October. Luggage tags and bus packets go out about 4-6 weeks before the sessions start, etc. The turn of the year is no different for us. January is usually a very busy month for the full-time team. Typically, we are reminding families that forms are available, we are reviewing our previous summer notes and working on plans to ensure each camper is successful. January is also in the middle our travel season for, as we trek all over the globe to recruit and hire the best new staff to join forces with our dedicated returning staff. This year, however, things have been moving at a slower pace. We are staying home and just beginning to figure out the landscape of staffing for both new and returning staff. This year, when families log into their CampInTouch and check forms, they contact us out of concern as nothing is there.
Some may perceive the lack of forms or hired staff as lazy. People may wonder what else we are doing instead. We can assure you we are hard at work, and it is not laziness at all. Our delay is intentional. The realities of the pandemic have had a profound impact on everyone, and we are not exempt. Our cancelled summer meant we did not get to interact with our campers, observe and work with the staff, or do any of the things we do in a typical summer. Our delay is deliberate and planned because we are making every effort to make up for that missed summer of interaction and do our best to care for our community and ensure a successful 2021.
A few weeks ago, the Community Care team assembled to review the camper forms. We debated what was relevant and what new questions needed to be asked. Is it fair to ask about a camper’s social abilities in a time when you only get to see your friends on a screen? Can we really ask if your last cabin was a good fit when you were last in your cabin more than 20 months ago? We are working to revamp the camper forms so we can get a sense of how each camper has been impacted by the pandemic. For many, Chi Summer 2021 will be the first-time seeing peers in person since March of 2020. We need to know how to best support them as they wade back into the waters and go from never leaving home to being part of a cabin community again. The forms are being re-worked, updated, and improved, and should be available by February.
Campers change and grow from year to year, as do our staff. Like our campers, we missed seeing our staff in 2020 and are eager for them to return. But, also like our campers, they are not the same people they were when we last had them at Chi in 2019. Unlike our campers, we are not asking our staff to have their parents fill out extensive forms on their social abilities, pet peeves, adaptability, etc. Instead, we are taking the time to talk with each returning staff member. Unlike traditional interviews, where we get to know new potential staff and gauge their abilities, these meetings are more like check-ins. We end up talking about what remote school has been like, how they coped with not having a traditional high school graduation, what they ended up doing last summer, etc. We are doing these over Zoom, so we can connect face-to-face safely and really and sincerely see how they are doing and hear from them how they have adapted to life in a pandemic.
You see- what may be perceived as focusing our energies elsewhere really has been us being planful. We could have begun either of these processes months ago, but we want to get the most accurate and up to date information. For most of the Camp Chi Family, when summer gets here it will be the first time being back in Lake Delton since 2019. Every single one of us was impacted by the pandemic. And we will need to rely on one another to ease back into the new normal when it arrives. And that is why we have Community Care. To be intentional, examine our routines, and do whatever we can to be there for each other.