30+ Sure Signs that You’re a Camp Director

Are you in love with your clipboard? Do you take your walkie-talkie with you EVERYWHERE ... even to the bathroom (and then leave it there)? Well then, you just may be a summer camp director. Common everyday folk are not always familiar with the gory details of life as a camp director. For an inside scoop, we asked our huge network of camp directors and professionals to describe the telltale signs of life as a camp director. Presenting the ultimate list: (Camp pro contribution credits in parenthesis)

You know you’re a camp director when you...

  1. Start writing a bulk email to camper families that begins with; "Happy Tuesday" ... but don't actually finish it until Friday at noon. (Michael Jacobus)
  2. Fixed the ice machine, wrangled a snake out of a cabin, and consoled a homesick camper before lunch. (Geoffrey Vandiver)
  3. Go into your office to do one thing and don't leave for three hours. (Julie Pohl Dosta)
  4. Secretly play with the fidget spinners you confiscate. (Rese Knickerbocker)
  5. Can hold your pee for 13 hours (or you’re so dehydrated that you don't have to pee for 13 hours). (Annie Patricia and Andy Hockenbrock)
  6. Laugh when someone says "are you busy" (Kevin Pettigrew)
  7. When someone asks what you did on your day off, you reply "I went to the grocery store, the office-supply store, and the fabric store to buy stuff for camp, then hit the drive-through for a burrito that I brought back to camp and ate while restocking first aid kits and preparing next session’s med sheets. How was your trip to the beach?” (Melissa Metivier)
  8. Randomly start singing camp songs in the shower and you know at least 20 styles of boom chicka boom. (Jenn Kerr and Charles G. Flannery)
  9. Cringe when a staff member says "Can we talk?" (Kaykay Carr)
  10. Have never gotten to eat a meal for the full duration. 
  11. meet with your State Senator in the morning for breakfast - and then plunge a toilet, restart pool filtration system, and eat a S’More before lunch. (Rick Doucette)
  12. Upon waking up from a camp nightmare, your first thought is to analyze does the emergency procedures cover that. If they don't, you come up with a new one. (Ash Boynton)
  13. Think 8 hours is a “half day”. (Dan Mathews)
  14. Need to regularly remind everyone around you that everything is fine because nobody died. (Emily Wahlquist)
  15. Your son wants to go swimming and you tell him to sign up on the board. (David Ridings)
  16. When people do not realize exactly everything you do. (And it is not their fault. It is something you have to experience to really appreciate. (Ash Boynton)
  17. Are addicted to doing the Hokey Pokey....but then turned yourself around. (Patrick Connelly)
  18. Wonder if there’s a surveillance camera in your office near the bathroom door because you get a walkie call every time you approach it! (Melissa Metivier)
  19. Have green glitter stuck to your arms and face when the inspector comes to inspect. (Or, find glitter while cleaning your ears 6 months after camp.) (Marci Feigenbaum-Bergmann and Liz Schwartzer)
  20. Think a clipboard is the best multi tool since sliced bread. (Mike Heppner)
  21. Have an aluminum clipboard and have actually sliced bread with it. (Jesse Kanaple)
  22. Could fix a toilet, repair a lawnmower, provide a battery for any electronic device on earth, and fully equip a rec room with just the items in your office. (Robert Lyons)
  23. Your backup contingency plans has contingency plans. (Ash Boynton)
  24. Your bags under your eyes have bags. (Camp Karen)
  25. Scan for danger and interview the lifeguards at the hotel swimming pools while on holidays with your kids. (Robyn Hochglaube)
  26. Have a desk drawer filled with arrow nocks, radio parts, pocket knives, screw driver, batteries, band aids and USB cords, but not a pen in sight… (Alexander Heinemann)
  27. Revolve your entire laundry schedule around your camp shirts! (Michele Baloga Russo)
  28. Sing your baby to sleep with camp songs instead of lullabies. (Margaret Bowman)
  29. Were the head cook all morning, moved cattle all afternoon, convinced a group of 10 year old boys to dance at the barndance, and read camper reports till 11 (Erica Jameson from Jameson Ranch Camp)
  30. Are left wondering what Murphy's Law has against your camp being operational the week before camp goes live. (Ash Boynton)
  31. Drink an energy drink at night to get your laundry done and then another first thing in the morning because you didn't sleep. (Meg Anderson)
  32. When you have to do three transactions at the Wal-Mart regularly: One on the camp card for all the camp things, one on your personal card for the few things you needs, and one on a leadership team member's personal card because they really need something. (Hanna O'Toole)
  33. Have hosed down a garbage can before 9am. Interrupted your scheduling session to put a camper's tooth in a Ziploc. Demanded to know "how, exactly, did that sandwich get smashed into the carpet." Maxed out your phone storage on videos of campers doing synchronized "dabbing" jumps into the pool. Heard children calling your name whilst sitting in a quiet room. And then distrusted how quiet that room was, even though you were at home… (Rachel Stevens)

Share your thoughts

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this list and we’re sure that you have a collection of your own,  so go ahead and share them in the comments below.

Finally we want to acknowledge the amazing Facebook group “Summer Camp Professionals” and thank all the administrators and moderators of the group. We picked up all of these observations on that group. Thanks to all the contributors with a special mention to Michael Jacobus who started the thread. 

Happy Camping Everyone!

About the Editor

Gaby Fachler spent 10 summers in his youth as a camper and staff. He is the founder and general manager of Pack for Camp, an online store that offers everything you expect to find on a camp packing list: soft trunks, bedding, laundry accessories, toiletries, storage solutions, clothing and more. Pack for Camp partners with summer camps to create customized smart packing lists and landing pages for campers and staff.

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