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Top Three Questions (Almost) Every Parent Asks! Part 2 [April 11. 2017]

3 Questions (Almost) Every Parent Asks.  Part 2

We field many questions a week about our day camp program, and naturally many parent generally inquire about the same things – so we’re looking at the three top questions MDC families have about our summer day camp program.

Our first question was:  Can you tell me more about swimming?  

This  post will cover our second most common question about camp:  “Who’s going to be looking after my children?”

Who We Hire
While a small group of staff will commute from other areas in the GTA, the majority live in local neighbourhoods like Rosedale, Moore Park, the Annex, Cabbagetown, etc.  In other words, the same neighbourhoods our campers come from.  It should be no surprise then that many of our staff attended Mooredale when they were younger!  They talk openly about their desire, when they were younger, to return one day to emulate their role models.

Counselling Staff

Our counselling staff – the ones directly responsible for caring for a small group of campers – are at least in grade 11 (age 17) and could be university aged.  Depending on the age of the campers and what section they are in, each counsellor has a maximum number of campers assigned to them:

     Junior Section(ages 4 & 5):  5 to 1 ratio
     Intermediate Section (ages 6 to 8):  6 to 1 ratio
     Senior Section (ages 9+):  8 to 1 ratio

In addition we hire grade 9 and 10 students to fill Assistant Counsellor roles.  These students will join a camper group to add extra support for the campers and to assist the counsellors with daily tasks.


Leadership Staff

Along with myself, the core leadership team is comprised of an Assistant Director and a Program Director.  Each of these two staff generally has four or more years of experience working at Mooredale and has demonstrated a proven ability to work with children and youth.  Together we oversee all the programming, parent communication, and staff management that go into running camp.
Each of our sections is led by a Section Director and Section Program Director.  Working together, they support the counsellor team and ensure the camper activities are fun, challenging, engaging and well run.  These students will have at least two years of camp experience.

Finally, our Program Director is supported by a team of 5 Specialty staff.  These program assistants have a specific specialty to lead (Arts and Crafts, Athletics, Science, Music and Drama, and Cooking) and work along with the other leadership team members as needed.

How we decide who to hire

My hiring process has evolved over the years, but what I have discovered is that it is more effective to hire for certain personality and character traits, rather than specific skill sets.  After submitting a written application and taking part in a 30 minute interview, we decide if a candidate meets these 5 key qualities that we believe make for excellent camp staff:
  1. Loves, loves, loves working with children;
  2. Demonstrates maturity and responsibility;
  3. Shows creativity in using limited resources;
  4. Is inherently optimistic;
  5. A friendly person that others like to be around.
Working at camp is hard work, and students who have these 5 key qualities not only survive their summer camp experience, but thrive at it.  History has shown me that campers who connect with, like, and respect their counsellors are far more likely to have a wonderful camp experience.

Qualifications and Training

During the hiring process, we look for students who have had previous experience working with children.  This could be demonstrated by volunteer work, school activities or previous experience at camp.  Before camp starts, all staff take part in one week of Orientation and Training run by by leadership team, and throughout the summer we have a daily morning meeting and a weekly staff meeting to provide continuing support and training.   Camp counsellors and leadership team members are also required obtain their Standard First Aid qualifications before starting work at Mooredale. 

Thanks for sticking with this lengthy post!  Next time we’ll tackle the third of the three most popular questions parents ask us – ‘What’s for lunch?’.  Until then, have a great week!

Eric Musselman

P.S.  Know someone who meets those 5 qualities and is looking for a rewarding summer experience?  Send them here!