The first salvo of the 2012 season was fired this weekend as we began our two month process of interviews of potential staff for this upcoming season. Oh sure, the planning for each season begins long before we close the gates on the last season, but nothing is "real" until you have scouts sit down in front of you and tell you why they want to work on the Camp Parsons staff. Although the actual interview is relatively short it is extremely informative to us and actually very educational to our applicants as this may be their first job interview ever. That is what I say to parents who have asked me why they had to drive all the way to the scout office for something that takes a fraction of the time of the trip. They have to understand that this is an important educational event for their child and it is also very important for us to physically see the scout and observe how they hold themselves, answer questions and their general appearance with regards to grooming. This way, the scout knows the expectations of a staff member and it is no surprise to them when we begin enforcing the uniform policy. For a sub segment, it is a chance to show that they have matured from last year, particularly for those individuals who participated in our CIT program and did not do too well on their evaluations.
I think that is one thing we need to emphasize more with our CITs when they come for their "training" week at camp. Everything they do will be evaluated; being on time, staying clean, wearing the appropriate uniform, putting the scouts first, being part of team and on and on. Too many times these 14 and 15 year olds will behave, well, like 14 and 15 year olds. Although we give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to poor judgement from time to time, personalities/traits and work ethic do stand out over the course of the week. It is one of the reasons why we depend on those evaluations as they are a compilation of senior staff input of a young CIT's performance. If a CIT has a stellar evaluation then we will hire them immediately when they interview for a full time staff position the following year and if they don't apply, we pursue them. On the other hand, we have been impressed with some of the interviews by former CITs who did not score as well and we have found compelling reasons to give them a chance and hire them on to the staff. So yes, interviews are very important to the scouts as well as to us.
If I ever do finish the book that I have been talking about writing for the past two decades, there will be a chapter on the hiring and interview process. There are some staff members that I vividly remember their first interview as I stand next to them as they get married ten years later. I also remember many scouts who I thought were going to pass out on me because they were that nervous when sitting before Ken and myself for their interview. You could actually see their bodies shake and then of course when they shake your hand at the end of the interview it is dripping with sweat. Then there was this one scout we interviewed years and years ago who sat down in front of Bob Enzler and myself very confidently and when asked "Why do you want to be on the Camp Parsons staff" launched into a rambling soliloquy that lasted 20 minutes without him ever stopping to even take a breath. About five minutes into it we had gone from camping near a creek, to being in the creek to why a creek is called a babbling brook and then somehow got into the topic of space travel and never stopped from there until I said "Thanks for coming in". I had my hand over my mouth like I was listening intently when in fact I was fighting the urge to start laughing out loud. He wasn't a bad kid....just strange. Needless to say we passed on hiring him.
Once again I am very impressed with the caliber of young men who came and interviewed with us this past Friday and Saturday and I know we have much more to go through. They all presented themselves very well..........well except for one returning staff member who had the audacity to stand in front of me with a heavy growth of peach fuzz which I think he was trying to call a beard.....I am sure he will come around though. We do have a lot of returning staff members so I am already looking forward to a great season.