At the Barn Day Camp, we spend a significant amount of time training our staff on working with kids. We teach staff how to use the values of Farm & Wilderness, the “SPICES” (Service, Peacemaking, Integrity, Community, Equity and Simplicity) in our work with children.
We also know the importance of having fun with our staff. During our Staff and Skills weeks, which occur before campers arrive, we spend hours talking about “soft skills” such as how to teach independence, build community, how to make failure something that is okay and a learning experience for campers, as well as “hard skills” such as rock climbing, life guarding and farming. We also make sure to leave room for playing games, singing and being silly together.
In our staff meetings each week, we talk about the challenges of working with children and brainstorm ways to create opportunities to teach about gender, race and fairness. Staff share some of their challenges and we talk about strategies to work with certain campers. We get through the nitty-gritty details of Topsy Turvy Tuesday, Adventure Days and Overnight trips, as well as making sure that all the daily chores are covered.
We make sure to have some fun in our staff meetings as well. After a long week (with several staff out sick and 87 campers running us wild) we worked hard in our staff meeting, but we ended with one of my favorite games — Ms. Mumbles.
If you do not know the game of the fictitious Ms. Mumbles, this is how it unfolds. Each staffer speaks – while using your lips to cover your teeth as you go around the circle – asking, “have you seen Ms. Mumbles?” The next person answers and then turns to their neighbor to continue the search. The game repeats around the way around circle, with plenty of creative and whacky improvisations. The game never fails to send staff into unstoppable laughter. Many returning staffers have learned to make a kybo run before the game starts as the laughter can have challenging consequences on the bladder.
We do some amazing things with kids and values that we all hold dear at camp, but ultimately we are very good at having fun both with and without campers. You’ll see what I mean in these photos of staff playing Ms. Mumbles at our recent staff meeting.
— Andrea Breen, BDC Director