Preparing for Campers to Arrive

06.12.2015 By Liz Baker

Reported by Melinda Pearce, Office Manager

Details, details, details – the days before camp are ones of details!

For parents I talk to often, they are busy packing those items purchased last-minute, figuring out the logistics of getting a daughter to Clearwater and celebrating the final days at home with a cheerful send-off into new adventures along Tomahawk Lake.

Of course a little stress and even some tears are normal, too – for campers and even their parents! However, as a camper settles into camp, those jitters generally smooth out as a camper engages in new friendships, activity endeavors and even some good old-fashioned cabin follies.

Meanwhile, for me at camp, my title may be “office manager” but I wear many hats working to get things prepared for our beloved campers! During the last two weeks prior to camp, I am busy making lists, checking off each item as it is completed, revising that checklist once again and revising it and adding more to it as needed. Between parents calling about details, staff getting settled in around camp for training and planning our travel logistics, I’m always keeping one eye on a calendar, watching the countdown to the date that is circled in red and has a smiley face with the words: “Campers Arrive!” For us at camp, prioritizing and sharing the work, helping others “where needed and able” (as we say on our staff applications and job descriptions) are the key to keeping things calm, organized and ensuring a successful start of camp.

Every camp season brings a different challenge to the very important logistic of CAMPER TRANSPORTATION. From the camp end, we need to line up staff chaperones to make the trip to Chicago in a rented car, make hotel reservation for staff chaperones in Chicago and confirm travel modes with all the parents (of car, bus or plane into three airports – Chicago, Wausau and Rhinelander). Then there are the details of arranging for chaperones to meet the campers at their respective airline gates and escort them to the chaperoned bus. I prepare security passes for each airline to ensure day passes to get our staff through security. And the number of campers will vary from year to year. For example, one year we had 13 campers coming in at basically the same time into three different O’Hare Airport terminals! Time to bring in reinforcements! In that case, Chicago alum came to the rescue and became chaperones who helped meet the campers as they got off the plane.

As our staff arrive for pre-camp training several weeks before the campers, there is a new energy at camp that is quite infectious! It is interesting to observe brand new staff with returning staff. Traditions are shared and lots of questions asked. They too are keeping track of the countdown for Opening Day. Please know that our staff understand the great responsibility they have for caring for our campers. Like the campers themselves, our staff might have some jitters upon arriving for pre-camp, but grow more confident with each training session, each informal information sharing encounter and particularly when the absolute excitement and joy of Opening Day is upon us!

We are so thrilled that our campers and their families are about to descend on Clearwater Camp in the coming days! To modify slightly an expression that our longtime director Sunny Moore used to say: The Diamond Days ahead at Clearwater Camp are all in those details!

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