2nd Year Staff Training

Summer staff training for 2nd years should look different  from training for new staff.

Usually it doesn’t.

Creating a schedule for two different groups of people is difficult (and planning training is hard enough), and there’s also the issue of staff bonding.  The time staff spend together during training is vital in creating good working relationships for the summer, and training 2nd years different from first may change those dynamics.

But having the exact same training for everyone can be even harder on staff relationships.  Second year staff feel a sense of ownership over the camp, and they really do have greater knowledge than the incoming staff.  Requiring them to go through the same information and training as they’ve done before is not only a waste of their time and potential, it can cause frustration and tension.

So how do you keep the staff training united while still finding ways to train second year staff differently?

Try these few things:

  1. Exempt 2nd years from going over the manual, rules, and regulations.  Many hours during training are dedicated to talking through basic information (some of it required by law).  Little staff interaction happens during this time, and it is probably one of the best times to ask 2nd year staff to take on other tasks.  While second years may be needed for a few of these talks, they can be spending time getting the campsite ready in different ways.  Afraid they’ll connect with each other too much and leave the new staff out?  A short talk with this group to remind them of that tendency should be enough to prevent camp staff ‘cliques’.
  2. Put second years in charge of some training.  Second year staff know what they are doing; use this to your advantage.  Have second year staff lead ropes training, teach how the kitchen runs, or lead worship and devotional times.  This takes some of the responsibility away from you, and gives 2nd years a place of some distinction.  It also allows the first year staff the chance to see how simple the tasks are to learn, and gives them the idea that you respect the capabilities of summer staff.  Worried that doing this will make the first year staff think of second years as ‘in charge’?  Once again, a few words should fix that problem.  If you are still concerned, then use this strategy in only a few places to limit that possibility.
  3. Have second years be in charge of planning most of the fun.  Second year staff remember what the best staff bonding times were from the last year, and they already know what activities they really want to take part in during the summer.  Give these staff the chance to begin the summer well by planning and organizing a trip or an activity that lets first year staff know what the previous year was like and what sorts of fun activities they can look forward to.  Be careful that these activities that are planned by second years aren’t overly forced and don’t become a point of difference between the staff.  These activities should be designed to help put the first year staff on the same page; if you think the events will do the opposite and cause division, let staff know they need to make different choices.

Related Articles:

Training: Summer Staff

Training: Volunteers

Training: Full-time Staff

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