Each year we attend several conferences and one-day workshops, including at the regional level.
Unfortunately the American Camp Association’s Virginias division (Virginia and West Virginia camps) hasn’t held a true Fall Conference with a keynote speaker, vendors, etc. for a couple of years now, due to decreasing attendance in the fall season. I guess many camp professionals are taking a break this time of year, or not quite ready to dive into professional development so soon after camp ends. Personally I miss it because as I’ve written before, I love conferences!
That’s why I was excited to venture back into the professional camp world last weekend, even though it’s only been a little over a month since my baby Noah was born. I did so for a little mini-conference that was the brainchild of Maile Armstrong, a camp consultant and overall strategic guru.
Since a few camps in the Virginias experienced varying levels of crises this summer, Maile decided to put together a one-day crisis management workshop, with a panel of speakers to speak about lessons learned from their crisis. She asked me to be a panelist to discuss the flooding at camp this summer, and of course I agreed!
In addition to the panel, there were a few breakout sessions, and she wanted a session on developing your camp’s emergency procedure plans, as well as training your staff for emergency situations. My mom Bonnie, our resident emergency preparedness and procedures lead, and I agreed to jointly run that session. My dad Sam, Camp Alleghany’s Director, also attended the conference. Baby Noah came along too, for his first American Camp Association (ACA) event! (We like to start the professional development early around here!)
The workshop took place at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, VA and had about 30 attendees.
I started off with a presentation of the timeline of events from June 23-26 and beyond, which included the historic West Virginia Flood of 2016, as well as the week of assessment, clean up, and re-opening of camp. I showed a slideshow of pictures of the flood and how it impacted camp, and discussed a few of the many lessons learned along with props to our AMAZING team from the Director down to every last Junior Counselor and even those Mini Camp troopers!
Then Barry spoke about the potential health crisis his camp faced this summer. Finally Gene spoke about camp crises from an insurance standpoint.
We then took questions from the group which led to some lively discussion and thoughts shared that can help us all as we look at various pieces of crisis management.
After the panel, lunch was served, and the afternoon was filled with four breakout sessions. The one my mom and I jointly ran was successful, with several camp professionals asking to see copies of our emergency procedures. Sam fanned out to attend a different session to lend some more insight to our camp that we talked about on the ride home.
Overall it was a successful day of professional development, as well as fellowship with some of my favorite camp people! I loved getting back into the swing because as you know, camp is always here before you know it, something that’s as true for me as it is for all of our camp families.
Can’t wait to see you next summer!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls