Summer Camp Lessons for the Workplace

Posted by Lee Yarborough on 5/5/16 10:00 AM
Lee Yarborough
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Posted on: May 5, 2016

On Sunday, my husband and I drove our oldest daughter to summer camp. This is her 7th summer at camp and it will be her home for the next 3 weeks. I went to the same camp for 12 years, so camp is truly in her blood. As a camper, counselor and now a mom of a camper, I have seen up close the many benefits of camp.

Each summer, I get a little “campsick” as I sit at my computer and day dream about the mountains. Camp songs ring through my head and I yearn for days full of swimming, climbing, crafts and an actual rest hour after lunch. 

As adults, it is easy to get complacent, especially in our work life. This summer, I encourage you to apply the lessons of summer camp to your business.

Try something new. Camp revolves around trying things that you wouldn’t try at home. Whether a new work strategy, a new product line or a new vendor, now is the time to take that risk.

Trust. If you have ever been rock climbing, then you understand the meaning of trust. You must trust the leader, the equipment and yourself. This same level of trust is essential in your business.

Follow the chore chart. Each cabin has a chore chart that instructs campers of their daily cleaning duty. If everyone does their job according to the chart, the cabin will be clean.  Does your business have current job descriptions? Do your employees understand the full scope of their job?

Honor tradition. Successful camps celebrate the past while constantly looking towards the future. Campers sing the same campfire songs that previous generations sang while adding new songs to their repertoire. Businesses should operate that way as well. Honor past successes, learn from past mistakes and continuously look forward.

Take a break from the high tech. For the next three weeks, my daughter will not have access to anything electronic. Although this can be difficult, I challenge each of us to take technology breaks this summer. Encourage more actual conversation and less email. More client visits and fewer texts. Focus on genuine human connections and watch your business grow.

And the most important lesson of all, have fun! My daughter returns from camp each summer a little wiser, stronger, and more mature. Yet, in her mind, camp is just FUN! Wouldn’t work be better if it was a little more fun? 

Topics: Leadership, Small Business

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