Budgeting and Prioritizing for Staff Development

We speak for most camp leaders when we say great, professional staff members are worth investing in!

Camp and retreat center staff are, without a doubt, incredibly passionate and diverse workers – plus, they’re typically eager to learn. So why not feed all of those wonderful qualities by offering development opportunities? 

Investing in staff development is crucial for the growth and success of any organization – especially camps and retreat centers. By allocating resources and prioritizing staff development, you can ensure the longevity of your amazing staff members, boost morale, and encourage fresh perspectives.

What is Staff Development, and Why Is It Important?

Staff development enhances skills, knowledge, and the capabilities of your employees. This includes training programs, workshops, seminars, coaching, mentoring, and other professional growth opportunities.

By keeping development initiatives top of mind, you can create a culture of continuous learning, growth, and adaptability. All of this will ultimately lead to improved performances from professional camp staff and a more cohesive environment. 

While a specific statistic isn’t available for how much non-profit summer camps or retreat centers should invest in professional camp staff development, it’s widely recognized that investing in staff development yields significant returns. 

Why Should You Prioritize Staff Development?

Professional camp staff often take their jobs to heart. The mission to keep the camp spirit alive and other long-standing traditions are incredibly important to them. They’re also open to learning and growing and see any opportunity to do so as a perk. 

If these needs aren’t met, it can leave some staff members feeling stagnant and wanting more. This could look like burnout or simply finding another camp altogether that offers growth opportunities.

LinkedIn says, “94% of employees would stay at a company that invests in their development.” This leads us to our first point on why you should prioritize staff development: higher retention rates. 

Providing opportunities for staff members to develop professionally and personally increases the chances of an employee wanting to stay long-term, which is vital for maintaining camp culture.

With this comes improvements in morale and overall engagement. When your staff feels valued and supported through development initiatives, their overall morale and engagement improve. 

Staff development also encourages innovation and quality. Continuous learning equips employees with new skills, knowledge, and perspectives. Offering these training opportunities can create an environment where innovative ideas flourish in tandem with long-standing traditions – ultimately enhancing the quality of your programs and helping your camp stay relevant as new generations of campers attend.

Tactics for Staff Development

So, what kind of tactics can you implement to improve staff development at your camp or retreat center? Below are approaches for both internal and external development. 

Internal Development
  • Long-term Programs: A good starting point is implementing comprehensive training programs that extend throughout the year. These can include mentorship programs, leadership development initiatives, and specialized skill-building opportunities tailored to your staff’s needs and the camp’s vision.
  • Workshops: Providing workshops facilitated by experienced camp staff or external trainers is another great way to improve staff development. Topics can range from leadership development and team building to specific skills such as outdoor education or program planning.
  • Speakers: Don’t underestimate the power of inviting guest speakers who are experts in a particular field to share insights, inspiration, and provide fresh perspectives. These talks can cover areas like child development, outdoor education, mindfulness, or inclusivity.
  • Events: Organizing staff events such as team-building activities, retreats, or bonding experiences, is yet another great way to foster camaraderie and strengthen relationships among your camp staff. 
  • Coaching and Mentorship: Providing personalized guidance to your staff through coaching or mentorship can help support confidence on the job. It also promotes continuous learning, as well as professional growth and development. 

External Development:
  • Conferences: Allowing staff members to attend industry-specific conferences and workshops relevant to their roles is a great way to offer networking opportunities, exposure to best practices, and the chance to learn from industry experts and peers.
  • Training Events: Identify and sponsor staff members to participate in specialized training programs or certifications related to their areas of expertise. Examples include wilderness first aid, lifeguard training, outdoor leadership courses, or other specific activity certifications.

How Will You Invest in Staff Development at Your Camp?

Budgeting and prioritizing staff development is, without a doubt, essential for your camp’s overall success. Not only does it boost morale and retention, but it ensures the best experience for your campers and retreat attendees too. 

With a wide range of internal and external development tactics to choose from, you can create a culture of continuous improvement and growth that positively impacts both your staff and programs. This way, you can keep important traditions while staying on top of what’s new in the industry. Still, trying to figure out where to start? Kaleidoscope is here to help! Book a call with us today to get started on your plan for budgeting and prioritizing staff development in your organization!

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