Beyond The Call Of Duty

The difference between good and great is small, but oh so important. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Artisticco

I believe there are three types of staff members; the poor, the good, and the great.

Poor staffers are those who don’t do what they are hired to do.

Good staffers are those who only do what they are hired to do.

Great staffers are those who do more than they are hired to do.

I’ve learned recently that there is a mountain of difference between good staffers and great staffers.

And for the sake of this conversation we will assume none of us reading this have those who fit into the “poor staffers” category.

The good staffers: They do what they are supposed to. They show up on time, interact with their campers well, make safe choices with kids involved, lead their areas with passion. Many camps are filled with good staff members. We love them and need them at camp.

But there are those who do... more.

Those that go above and beyond the call of duty.

Those that leave good in the dust for great.

In my setting, a great staff member looks like this:

-They don’t just count campers, they count themselves as they count campers.

-They don’t just point out when a camper has been persistent, respectful, or responsible, they explain specifically what it was the camper did that was persistent, respectful or responsible and then they use it as a teaching moment.

-They don’t just list cabin rules, they let campers develop the rules, thus creating buy-in from the campers.

-They don’t just come to lunch in the dining hall. They bring a blanket, throw it over the table and have campers eat under the table in the counselor-made cave.

I have realized over the years the difference between a good staff member and a great staff member has nothing to do with age, time commitment, or really big choices.

The difference lies in the little things.

The often mundane things.

The unnoticed by most things.

And as a camp director, I ‘ve realized these great staff members are those whom I want on my team. They are the ones that, as I walk our camp, I look for and reward and honor in some creative way. They are the ones whom I want to rehire.

Do you have great staff members? I’m sure you do. And I bet they look a little bit different than mine. But they have one striking similarity: they go beyond the call of duty.

Cory Harrison has directed resident camp programs for more than 10 years with The Salvation Army and the YMCA. Currently, he is the Director of the YMCA Camp Benson in Northwest, IL. He is a life-long camper, an avid reader, and daily cereal eater. Reach him via Facebook: