(Note: Most of the blog entries from “Director Tommy” are just staff using the main account. This one is actually from me, Tommy.)
I did my job badly today. I had a parent desperately trying to get my attention, to see her experience with us through her eyes, to convey what it was like to be a justifiably unhappy camp parent – and it took me a while to get it.
The quick story is that we ended up, in ways that haven’t really happened before, with just one very young camper on the bus at our first early bus stop this morning. And the mom described to me the ‘pit in her stomach feeling’ while putting her girl on the bus with only our driver and no one else. I know and trust our drivers, but to her, that was scary. And it shouldn’t be, and that just shouldn’t happen. So, operational, we’ve made the fix to prevent that situation from ever happening again.
But that’s only the ‘camp operations’ part of the mistake. I just handled it wrong when I got the call. I didn’t listen, I got defensive, and I acted like I knew better than the parent. Those are all big BIG mistakes I made. And since this mom finally got me to see it from her eyes, I’ve been devastated. I work all year to plan for and provide a great experience for children AND parents and I did it all wrong today.
At camp conferences and meetings with other camp professionals we talk about this stuff in theory. But until you really screw up, it’s hard to gain a new awareness, gain sensitivity, and grow. Camp is not a perfect place and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t at camp and hasn’t worked with imperfect people. But it’s a pretty good place to get better at things. Make sense? To this parent and all of our camp parents I hope it does.
We really are having a great summer with a great staff and wonderful campers. And I’m sad there’s only a couple of weeks left! I know I’ll make more mistakes in the future, but I think I’m on the road to being better at putting myself in our camp parent’s shoes, even in the thick of summer, a little bit quicker and with more understanding.