Energizing your staff is a key component of effective sports camp management:
A lot of work goes into planning a sports camp. From registration systems, facilities, agenda, equipment and more, the checklist seems never-ending. Through my experience running and working with different types of sports camps and training events, I have found that the most important factor in running a successful event and leaving a memorable impression on athletes and parents, is through your staff.
You can have the best facilities and the most exciting activities, but if you don’t have coaches and staff that are energized, that care about developing athletes and interacting with the campers, all the other pieces of your well-planned sports camp go out the window. Campers aren’t going to remember the drills and activities - they’re going to remember the coaches. Every year I work some of the same camps, and each repeat camper can list off the previous coaches and staff members.
Memorable Experience >> Camper Retention >> Referrals and Friends
However, if you’ve had experience working a sports camp, then you know how draining it is. There are multiple sessions per day, usually outside, and time between each training is filled with staff meetings or watching the campers. Therefore it’s important that your sports camp management plan aims to not just have the best staff you can find, but to keep them upbeat and energized so they can perform at their peak and leave lasting footprints in the campers’ minds.
Here are 6 tips for keeping your staff energized at camp:
All coaches need a place to recharge their batteries. Provide them with some sort of air conditioned staff lounge, or room that is clearly labeled “staff only.” This allows them to take off their coaching hat and converse with other staff members and get off of their feet for a quick break. Maybe even provide some couches for a power nap!
One of my favorite ways to keep your staff going through the rigors of camp is to structure part of the event into a competition or tournament. Working on technique and running drills can become mundane, especially if you have to teach it for multiple rotations. Each staff member is likely to be competitive, and putting them head to head against other staff members and their respective teams is an excellent way to motivate them to coach and get the best out of their kids, because it is personal. No staff member wants to go winless at camp, and it provides great banter in the staff lounge.
- Let Them Improvise
Each coach will have their own favorite activities or coaching methodologies. Don’t draw up every activity for them. Great sports camp management will provide staff with a focus topic and let them create their own training that focuses on that topic. Let them improvise and add their own flair with personal touches.
- Recognize Good Behavior
If you see a staff member go above and beyond, make an example of their great efforts in front of the staff. It sounds cheesy, but everyone loves to be recognized for good deeds. It also spurs other staff members to do the same.
- Carve Out Time for Fun
Make sure there are opportunities for your staff to get away from camp and enjoy each other’s company. Many of your staff members could become close friends, but during camp hours it’ll be difficult for them to catch up. If you allow downtime for staff to socialize, they could be less distracted during working hours.
Yes, I know it seems obvious, but it’s hard to get your coaches best if they aren’t receiving anything for it, so paying your staff is almost a necessity. This doesn’t always have to be monetary. All sports coaches love new swag! Keep in mind, wait until the campers all head home before bringing in staff to hand out checks.
While there are many components involved in running a great camp, I believe your staff is the most important asset in creating a memorable experience and providing value to your clients. Do everything you can do keep them energized and having fun with the athletes. Remember, the goal is to not only to get your clients to register for next year, but to have them bring a friend so you can continue to grow!