Staff Supervision

Staff Motivation and Recognition

Are you half-way or more through your summer season? Are some of your staff burning out? Is there a general feel of exhaustion within the ranks (even if it is mixed with passion and joy)? Does your staff feel unappreciated? Do you?

Recently, I ran one of my email roundtables. The theme was Staff Motivation and Recognition. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite submissions…

Gift Cards
I buy each of them a $10 Dunkin Donut gift card.  But then I spike the stack with one $50 gift card.  They pick the card they want, and then I tell them the serial number of the winner.

Camp is better because of you!
Write each counselor a card that says “Camp is better because…” and fill in the blank with a specific and unique characteristic about that staff member and how they make camp better.
-Name Withheld

Words of Praise
Email parents, and ask them to reply back recognizing the counselors that made their camper’s week(s) memorable. Then post them on a “praise board”.

Staff Beads
For throughout the summer, I know that many camps do a Bead Program for campers…but what about the same thing for staff? Make them a special name tag/necklace…and let the staff earn special beads for different accomplishments. Maybe even incorporate that at a closing campfire or ceremony, so they are recognized with the campers. Possibly ask campers or parents to submit a Kudos comment, or nomination for a particular award for a staff member who had a special impact on a camper.

Staff Book
At the end of the summer we put together a book where the staff can design half a page, with memories from camp, pictures, song lyrics, pretty much anything camp appropriate. Then we copy it and give it out at the staff dinner. It also has addresses and emails in it for people to contact others.

It’s my boat!
Here’s a great staff recognition idea that I heard someone at ACA Midstates Conference share– Staff who reach a certain number of summers (5 summers as summer staff, perhaps) get to name a boat! When we pitched the idea to some of our veteran staffers, they went crazy about it, so I think it might be a new tradition to try out soon!

Secret Buddy
At a previous camp, we had “Secret Buddy” week. Every one picked a name out of a hat and had to do something nice for that person For example, some people made things in Creative Arts while other people had cheesy sayings such as “I hope you’re having a ball!” and gave the corresponding item (large super ball) to that individual. It is fun to be surprised 🙂

And finally, click here to access a staff motivation PDF that really gets into some great detail. It was put together and submitted by Randall Grayson, PhD of Camp Augusta.


  • I think my AD contrubuted to this roundtable, but just incase she forgot this one, I’d like to mention it. It’s cute!
    One little extra I’ve always liked to do is when I see a staff memeber struggling, if they’re having a bad day, dealing with difficult campers or if I know they’ve had a long night previously, I’ll tap them on the shoulder, pass them a small paper bag and say “shhh, it’s a secret. Go somewhere quiet and open it. I’ll be with your campers until you get back”
    When they open the bag there’s a little note that says “You’re working hard, you deserve a break – have a KitKat! Take 10 minutes and enjoy! But remember, it’s a secret.”
    And of course, there’s a KitKat bar in the bag for them.

    They always come back with a huge smile on their face (a 10 minute break and chocolate!? Perfect combo!) and I think it makes them feel special to be part of ‘a secret’ and valued since they know that we’re seeing their hard work.

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