So I wrote this about 2 weeks ago, but never got around to finishing it! Here it is!!
So yesterday (I mean on the 12th, two weeks ago,) we discussed another ACA article, this time, on communication, its struggles, and possible solutions. (Want to read the article yourself? Check it out here.)
Relevance to Happy Valley
It’s kind of clear that discussions on how to improve communication have a place at any campground. But the article points out what makes campgrounds unique among other organizations in terms of communication: camps need to be effectively communicating while watching a bunch of kids!
Another struggle that this article reminded me of was the fact that Brooke and I are used to being Tim’s only employees (other than the other interns at Brooke’s home campground.) In contrast, Happy Valley has a kitchen staff, a maintenance staff and many more camps for Tim to be talking to. So we have far less access to Tim than we’re used to, which affects how much feedback we get.
The article strongly recommended practices such as making sure all staff members can ask each other regularly how things are going and if there are things they need. Tim definitely does this regularly, but sometimes I don’t know if we’re doing this enough with each other or other staff members around us!
I particularly liked the suggestion that everyone become comfortable saying, “Not now, but how about we meet to talk about this later?” This is so important at places like camps, because overnight camps are a 24-hour operation. That makes it incredibly easy to become very swamped with a number of immediate needs, or for the immediate needs to force longer term plans to be put on the back burner. I’m pretty proud of Tim for this, because I’ve seen him do this ALL THE TIME!
I also liked the recommendation that we have a place for regular announcement to be posted that is accessible to all employees, and that when important changes are made, that perhaps an official announcement is written and distributed so that all employees can be kept in the loop while maintaining appropriate levels of privacy for those involved as the situation calls for.
Things we’re totally on top of:
- Giving Kudos: Did you know that Tyler is the current Redwood Warrior?
- Saying, How about later?
Maybe we should work on ending meetings with the article’s suggestion: “Thanks for coming, awesome work (etc)! If you have questions, I’ll stay behind to discuss them!” (I might even steal this for meetings I have to run during the school year!)
Brooke on this:
Each week at Happy Valley there is a new group that is coming in that has different needs and desires from the staff that work here. Obviously that means communication is an important part of being able to run a smooth camp. Of course we are not always the best in that field. As information is relayed from one person to the next some of it gets lost, in a version of whisper down the lane. Our group has already had a few bumps that teaches us each time that we need to be better about communicating with our coworkers, and be clear with the messages we are giving.
As Antonia mentioned, I’m used to having a little bit more of a direct communication line to Tim. This summer I’m learning on how to go off the instructions given and execute it without someone always checking, or giving feedback to help the project along. This lack of a check up gives me a bit of independence but also reminds me that I have if I am struggling with something I need to actively seek out help and communicate my problems. I can’t always expect people to figure out I’m having trouble.
In addition, other communication holes that we’ve noticed include:
- Sometimes not being informed about what’s unique about each camp, or our different internships. (My internship, for example, is different because I have a design focus, which means I spend a LOT of time working with Jeff.)
- Not having camp schedules very early. (This is hardly unique to Happy Valley, but a problem nonetheless when we try to schedule Lifeguarding, dishwashing, and precious days off!)
- Sometimes not knowing who else was (or was not) assigned to work with us!
Possible Changes We Can Make
- We can try to write and stick to agendas!
- We can all try to take responsibility to let each other know about changes and new information.
- We can also try to be a bit better about always having a weekly logistic meeting with Tim to make sure we’re all on the same page. Weekly meetings need to include: a briefing on what the next week camp is, and what their expectations are. If there is anything unique about the needs of the camp or campers, this needs to be discussed then. It’s happened before that we got partially through the week before we noticed that not all of us were on the same page about a camp! Then, we should be trying to talk about lifeguarding, kitchen and Apex schedules.
Antonia and Brooke have covered much of the key issues and solutions that the staff here at Happy Valley should strive to work towards in order to communicate more effectively, but one thing that wasn’t mentioned that I think us interns have struggled with a lot this summer our timeliness. Maybe it’s because we get so excited about all the multitude of things we want to share with each other, or maybe we just have ADD and struggle with staying on topic. Whatever it is, we’ve had some serious difficulty starting and finishing our meetings on time, and what we’ve found is that our time here is incredibly precious and valuable and with our inefficiency we’re letting that time slip away.
- Always try to start and finish meetings on time even if someone is late or missing
- Stick to either a physical, written schedule or one that’s mentally constructed by the driver
- Any questions that divert away from the scheduled meeting should be asked after the meeting