Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Countdown to Camp: Five Things Every YW Camp Leader Needs

The first time I attended YW Camp as a Leader, I was overwhelmed to say the least. Not only was I walking into the great unknown, I was doing it with more than a handful of very lively girls. Needless to say, I was eager to gather every bit of information and insight I could find to make the task easier.

Since then I've spent many happy, sad, wet, and uncomfortably warm nights in a tent. I've giggled into the wee morning hours. I've dried tears and bandaged fingers. I've seen up-dos, down-dos, upsidedown-dos, and even rag-dos. I've become quite versed in the art of Dutch Oven cooking.

... And I've learned a whole lot about planning and carrying out a successful camp for everyone involved!

So, as you start your countdown to camp (twenty-one-ish weeks for our ward), I thought I'd share the top five things I've learned that every YW Camp Leader (or really any YW leader who is attending camp) needs.

1. A sense of humor  - Hey! Don't laugh!!! ...Or do. Please. Laugh! It's important to take things seriously but if you take them too seriously, things are going to B.O.R.I.N.G. super fast. Relax. Try to have fun. Be prepared to PLAY with your YW. Sure you may feel too old, or maybe you're the uber-mature or reserved type. Hmm.. Well, all I've got to say is, "Get over it." There's no better way to earn the love and trust of the girls you serve than to get down and get dirty WITH them. Laughter is the biggest key to YW Camp success!  

2. A good support staff - I can not stress this enough: Get yourself a supportive, helpful, and available group of sisters to help you. Girls Camp is not a one-man-show. You need back up. You need other's ideas. You need friends, and allies, and probably someone who knows more about the outdoors than you do... You know, to teach you STUFF! And to teach girls STUFF. And if nothing else, to help do some of the STUFF on your ever growing list.  

3. Church Handbooks - (including the YW Theme and Personal Progress) 

Familiarize yourself with the Church Handbook, YW section, the YW Camp Manual ,and the YW Camp Leader Resources website. If you really want to go the extra mile, there's a lot to learn from the Boy Scout Handbook too.

4. A Plan - I think we've all heard the saying, "If we fail to plan, we plan to fail." Well, I'm probably the biggest groupie on this band-wagon. Plan, plan, plan... then be ready to divert from the plan.

What do you need to plan? Umm, pretty much everything! Daily activities, testimony experiences, devotionals, food for your belly, sleeping assignments, first aid, packing lists, secret-sisters, guest speakers, crafts...  Are you overwhelmed yet? Well, knock it off. It won't seem like such a big mountain once you have a plan.

5. Organization - This is my second favorite word, trumped only by PLAN. I don't care what your method for staying organized is, just make sure you have one. Personally, I'm a list maker. On paper, mind you, not on an electric devise. If your tablet or phone is your go-to, then use it (but be prepared for a plan B just in case you don't have power or service at camp).

Of course, help with making a plan, staying organized, effectively using your committee, and even keeping a positive attitude, can be found in Everything You Need to Know About Girls Camp. And for all you techy-device users, its now available for your Kindle and Nook