By Evan Wofsy
At Camp W on Long Island, we truly believe that our summer camp staff is what makes us perhaps the best camp in all of New York. There are plenty of Long Island day camps, but I don’t think there’s even one that devotes the same attention we do to our staff – hiring them, training them, getting feedback from them, and making sure they’re prepared to give every camper an amazing experience.
We also make sure to treat our staff well, which is why we have so many people return to us – they know they’re an integral part of how the camp operates. Some of our administrators – like Kevin, Sam, and Sean – have been with us year after year. They come back because they know they’re part of something – not a business, but an experience. They’re “camp people” – the kind who will go home and talk about the kids and all that they did that day. I’ve even had people come back to me after college and say to me something along the lines of, “Evan, I’m working now making a six-figure salary, but I still say the best job I ever had was working for you.”
These are the kinds of counselors we seek out: the ones who will not think of it as a job, but as an opportunity to learn from the experience and have fun. I personally interview each and every applicant because I want to make sure we’re only finding people who really enjoy being here at Camp W and truly want to make a difference in kids’ lives. We search for creative and energetic workers since we know that they are ultimately the ones who make a kid’s summer – not go karts or the climbing wall or volleyball, but enthusiastic staff people.
And specialists are no different than counselors. When I walk around Camp W, I see specialists playing with just as much excitement as the kids. When a kid scores a goal or sinks a basket, they react like Bobby Thompson just hit the homer for the pennant. Same thing when a kid manages to get across a balance beam or move on from their swim group. And because everyone is on the same page (Did you know camp people can read each other’s minds?), the congratulations echo and the kid winds up feeling like she not only accomplished something, but just had a parade through the Canyon of Heroes.
Our staff always has a high degree of chemistry, but it’s no accident: it comes with a great deal of planning. The moment one summer ends, we’re already thinking about the next one. That means going through an extensive review process and considering who we’re going to have back, and how we’re going to pair them, so that we can put together another great team.
It’s a lot of effort, but it pays off every time we see an enormous smile on a kid’s face that was put there by one of our staff members.