Essential Staff Training Activities

You expect staff to think on their feet, why not train them on their feet?  Many of my clients are in the summer camp industry, and summer is just around the corner!  As you start to plan your staff training week, make sure you incorporate a wide range of helpful experiential topics, from icebreakers, getting-to-know you activities, to activities that help staff embrace their different work styles and gifts.  These are not only team-building activities, but team bonding, too - both of which are important for uniting your staff. Best of all, once you have acquainted your staff with these activities, they can in turn use them with your participants and campers to continue the process of building a truly connected group.  Help your staff develop skills for how a team communicates, makes decisions, recognizes conflicts and solves problems---all during their staff training!  Plus, if they are having fun while they are learning, they are more apt to use these new skills with their campers.
 
Here's one of my favorite, non-prop staff training activity from my book, Setting the Conflict Compass:  As If  
 
Activity Directions:
  • Divide your group into pairs.  Have the pairs stand about 6 feet apart from one another and face each other. 
  • Instruct them to walk forward towards one another and greet one another AS IF they were....  and give them a role to play out.
  • Each interaction is approximately 60 seconds in duration.
  • After the interaction is over, ask them to get back into their original stance, about 6 feet away from one another.
  • Debrief that round.
  • Proceed with a different role play.
  • Debrief the second round.
  • Proceed with a third role play.
  • Debrief the third round.
Facilitator script: “Please find a partner and stand about 6 feet away from them and face one another.  (Pause until they are ready.)  This activity is called “As If”.  In a moment I’m going to give you a role I’d like you to play out with your partner.  Once I say ‘Go’, I want you to walk towards your partner and greet your partner AS IF you were in the role I’m about to give you.  I want you to stay in this role for about 60 seconds.  Once you hear me say “STOP!”, that round is over and I want you to get back into this starting position, where you are standing 6 feet away from your partner.  Are there any questions?  OK, for this first interaction, I want you to greet your partner AS IF you were long lost college roommates.  Ready?  Go!”
Let this interaction go on for about 60 seconds.  It will be loud and energetic.  When 60 seconds is up, yell out STOP (or use a noisemaker to get their attention.)  Ask them to get back into their original 6-feet-away position.  Then ask these debriefing questions: 
  • What was that interaction like?
  • It appeared to be pretty high-energy.  Was there anyone not excited to see their college roommate?
  • What were some of the things you talked about?
Then move onto your second role play.

Facilitator Script:  "OK, the beauty of this activity is that we can change the roles to be whatever we want them to be.  Let's have this next round be a little harder.  This time I want you to pretend that you and your partner are co-workers, and the two of you got into an argument yesterday.  It's now the next day and you walk in and see one another for the first time.  Go ahead and greet your partner AS IF you are seeing one another for the first time since your argument yesterday.  Ready?  Go!" 

Let this interaction go on for about 60 seconds.  This interaction will have multiple different responses.  Some of the pairs will take accountability and resolve their conflict.  Other pairs will ignore each other altogether.  Some will start out with a 'pretend' angry tone, then start to work towards a resolution.  When 60 seconds is up, yell out STOP (or use a noisemaker to get their attention.)  Ask them to get back into their original 6-feet-away position.  Then ask these debriefing questions:
  • What was that interaction like?
  • Did you resolve your conflict in that 60 second time period?  Wouldn't it be great if that's the way it happened out in the real world?
  • What made this interaction awkward?
  • How do you respond to conflict in the real world?
Then move onto a third role play.

Facilitator Script:  "OK, let's do one more.  This time, I need one person to be a new camper that was just dropped off by their parents and is not too sure about this whole camp-thing.  The other person will be their counselor.  Please have the camper be whatever age child that the person in the counselor role is working with this summer.  Decide who is going to be in each role.  (Pause a few moments.)  This time, I want the 'counselor' to greet their 'new camper' AS IF they were just dropped off at camp and a little unsure of themselves.   Ready?  Go!" 

Let this interaction go on for about 60 seconds.  This interaction will have multiple different responses.  Some campers will cry, others will be quiet, and some will be excited!  When 60 seconds is up, yell out STOP (or use a noisemaker to get their attention.)  Ask them to get back into their original 6-feet-away position.  Then ask these debriefing questions:
  • What was that interaction like?
  • Let's hear from the new campers first, how did your counselor do?  What was that experience like for you?
  • Now let's hear from those that in the counselor.  What was that experience like for you?
  • How does this relate to camp?  What kind of environment do we want to foster for our newcomers?
 Suggested other role plays:
  • Talking with disgruntled parents.
  • Discussing behavior issues with a child.
  • Talking with the camp director about time-off.
I still have a few open dates in my training calendar in the next few weeks, in case you are interested in bringing me out to help lead a full day of Staff Training Activities. Email me or give me a call to check availability.    
Have Fun Out There!
~Michelle Cummings
'The Big Wheel'
Training Wheels
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