As usual (and expected) there is increasing chatter amongst the veteran staff about camp operations as we ramp up to our 94th continuous season. I am not involved in these discussions, I just hear about them through second, third and fourth hand accounts. They usually center around a change in the way we run camp or the processes and procedures that we normally do that are done as a result of a lack of personnel resources. In other words, at times we are forced to improvise. As a result, many veteran staff members don't understand the reasoning behind a decision as in their minds...."We have never done that before..."
"We have never done that before....." I think most veteran staff who have been around for some time know how I would react to that statement. Seriously? You don't think in 94 seasons we haven't "shook it up" a little? We have had one campwide campfire, two campfires even three campfires each week during different season; we have used all three beaches for active program and we have used only one at various times through the decades. We have had a staff of 65 and a staff of 45; we have had three rangers and we have had no ranger.......I can go on an on. We have done most things before in some shape or form. What drives changes is either society, technology or the BSA program emphasis (tent or cabin, etc.). How we do things is not as important as getting it done. Decades ago we had our Aquatics Director resign do to personal issues during the last week of May. Have you ever tried to recruit a qualified Aquatics Director in that short of a time? An old college friend of mine had signed up to work for that summer and although he was a Boy Scout that was raised in the mid-west, he had no experience as an Aquatics Director. I moved him in to that slot because I had no other choice and he was an intelligent young man that could adapt to that challenge. "You can't do that" I heard from some of my colleagues; "He has no experience on that beach" said another; "We never have had a rookie Aquatics Director before" was another response (sound familiar). For those of you who remember, it was Jim Gotch and he has been one of the best Aquatics Director that I have had the pleasure to work with and we had a great crew of experienced staff and a great program that summer. I have no intention of hiring a rookie Aquatics Director now or in the future but if I had to, I would........what would be the alternative? Shut the beach down? Regardless, I am sure if I did I would hear...."well, that's never been done before".
I have had Head Cooks walk out on me more than once in the middle of the summer. We don't shut the doors, we adapt and we overcome........we complete the mission. I may have to replace someone with another who may not know exactly what they are doing, but they have the talents to make it work. It may be painful for myself (and Ken) but luckily the scouts can't really tell. Oh sure, the Scoutmasters might pick up that we may be piece mealing something together but at the end of the day, it serves our purpose. I have created jobs just to bring back talented people or to keep talented people at camp and I have combined jobs and responsibilities as I am not going to hire someone to "fill a slot".......we hire to fit and we hire quality. We have several key positions at camp to make the program a success and at times we are flush with more qualified and talented individuals than there are slots; then we have seasons where we have more slots than experienced staff members. We have and we will always make it work. Even if Ken and I were suddenly removed from the camp.......the 94th season would still be on.
I have the perfect staff all selected in my head, but they are not from the same season, they span many. If I had that available to me every season then camp life would be easy and we would have a six year waiting list. We have never done that before........