YMCA Camps and Outdoor Education

Camp Director Series, Part 1 of 2: Meet Kate!

One of the most impactful and integral roles within our Day Camp teams is the Camp Director role. Over the next month we will hire 50 Day Camp Directors that will provide leadership to our Day Camps locations that will operate in Summer 2017.

Kate has worked with our YMCA Day Camps since 2010. She started as a counselor, and this year she completed her second summer as Camp Director. We asked Kate to tell us about her experiences as a YMCA Camp Director:

What did a typical day look like for you as the Director at Winona YMCA Day Camp?

I definitely learned that there was no such thing as a typical day at Day Camp! My days started and ended with our opening and closing circles in the gym — the whole camp singing songs and dancing, making announcements, and leading our YMCA bead ceremonies. I spent my days talking with parents, making sure my counselors had their program plans and supplies, juggling admin work such as payroll and attendances, and covering staff breaks. Regardless of the millions of things that needed to be accomplished each day, I made sure to chat with staff, laugh, and be silly with Campers, as well as remember the most important thing: we were all here to make memories, learn new skills and have fun! 

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your two summers as a Day Camp Director?

The things I’m most proud of are the things that are the hardest to describe: the note I received from a counselor my first summer telling me that she felt like she was part of a family at our Camp; watching campers excitedly talking over each other trying to tell me about the cook-off they’d had that morning with their group; coming into work to find counselors painting their entire bodies pink for a costume just to bring a smile to our Campers’ faces; watching a camper who had been angry or quiet all summer dancing on stage for the final creative arts performance with the entire camp cheering for him. But I’m most proud of being part of the magic that is the YMCA. For me, it is always about creating a place where everyone feels like they were part of something amazing.

What do you get in return for being a Camp Director with the YMCA?

Being a Camp Director means working hard all summer, and getting so much out of it in return. You learn so much so fast: how to get the best out of your staff; how to have difficult conversations with parents; how to get your staff and campers to respect you; and how to schedule, communicate, and become responsible for the actions of others. You learn hard skills like how to hire a strong staff team and manage payroll and budgeting, as well as soft skills like how to provide emotional support to young staff or campers, and how to create an environment where everyone’s happy and included. It’s hard to explain until you’ve lived it, but it’s the most challenging and exciting job and it’s not until you look back at the end of the summer that you realize what an extraordinary experience you’ve had. 

Check out our current job postings here, and stay tuned for Part 2 of our Director Series.