Transcript of our interview with Dan, Director
What makes Intervarsity Circle Square Ranch Big Clear Lake unique compared to others?
What sets us apart is our staff. This place has been around for a long time. There are a lot of different fun activities kids can participate in, but what has really set us aside is the quality of our staff and how we train them.
The time we invest in our staff really impacts what we do here. I think there’s a lot more buy-in with our team now than there's ever been. I think it really shows in the way they relate to the kids and to parents on pick-up and drop-off days. We have world-class facilities and activities, but it's not our great ropes course that's going to console kids and change their linens and get them new sleeping bags. We have a staff that will take care of kids well, run our games well, and take care of our facilities and activities. And they’re really passionate about what they do.
What type of child is successful at Intervarsity Big Clear Lake?
I don't think there's anyone in particular. But I think kids who want to make friends and do a lot of different things at camp do really well. It’s the shared experience of doing this new thing. Getting on a horse, going climbing or canoeing, etc. If you're doing it with these people and you're doing it over the course of a week, that really allows you to build lasting friendships. You share that crazy time when you caught all those frogs or whatever; it can be great.
If you want to try something new, there's endless things you can try for the first time here. And so if you're open to giving something a try, like horseback riding, just give it a chance. If you're up for trying something new and for adventure, you'll have a great time.
How do you deal with behavioural issues?
There are some main things we do. One is consistency in that we try to have the same rules from the start of the week to the end of the week. We enable the kids to have buy-in by having all our campers sit down at the start of the week with their peers and come up with rules. And so they say, “Oh, I don't think we should make fun of each other. I don't think we should cuss.” That really gets them on board and gives rise to peer accountability.
It's from day one that all our campers are on the same page. And if and when something goes awry that’s not too egregious, we sit down with the campers involved and say, “Okay, what's going on that you don't want to listen to your staff, you don't want to get involved in this activity? Help me understand.” And I think between getting campers to buy in, setting very clear expectations from day one, and seeking to understand them, it allows us to manage behavioural issues in a very measured way that works well for us.
What do campers value most about their experience at Intervarsity Big Clear Lake?
So I think I'd cycle back to our staff because again. When they try to get on a horse for the first time, how are staff going to treat them? Are they going to be patient? Are they going to be kind? Are they going to be empathetic and be understanding? And I think we survey our campers every summer and they love so many things about our camp. But the consistency in the appreciation and acknowledgement they have for our staff is what has really driven us to lean harder into investing in our staff as a key resource.,
What message would you give to a camper who is entering Intervarsity Big Clear Lake?
I think what I'd say to anybody who is coming to our camp for the first time is, “It's okay to be a little scared. It's okay to be a little nervous.” Camp is a big thing—it's a big shift. But there's a reason why we have camps all over the world and there's a reason why kids keep coming back to us.
So if kids are willing to give us a chance and just show up, we'll do the rest. If you put yourself out there and you're willing to try this activity like getting on a horse or try making a friend, we'll set up the atmosphere for the rest of it. It'll be worth your while.