Good morning. My name is Michael Staires. I’m the Summer Camp Director at Camp Loughridge here in Tulsa on West 71st Street. In fact, just a few miles west to 71st Street, a great, convenient location for drop-off and pickup for your kids. I’m here today to talk about Tulsa summer camps and specifically Camp Loughridge. Weddings Venue Tulsa

There are a lot of great Tulsa summer camps but I want to talk to you specifically today about Tulsa or about Camp Loughridge. Camp Loughridge has been around for a long time. Really a real model specifically for day camping. Day camping is a different animal than sleepover camps. I want to talk a little bit about that as well.

We’re talking about Tulsa summer camps, talking about the importance of getting your kid to camp, what happens at camp. I just want to really focus in today, or at least on this particular podcast, on summer staff. If you’re a high school or a college-age kid in Tulsa, you have a lot of Tulsa summer camps to choose from when you think about where you may want to invest your time for the summer. I want to talk to you a little bit about how Camp Loughridge does that.

First of all, there are a lot of ways, a lot of philosophies of how to staff a summer camp. I want to talk to you about how Camp Loughridge is going to do that this summer. If you are a high school or college-age kid wanting to work at a camp, there’s a different kind of mentality that we’re looking for at Camp Loughridge. We are actually looking for kids who have a couple of things foremost in their mind before getting just a summer job. I’m looking for a high school or a college-age kid that really has a sense of mission, a sense of service, really wanting to give back. These are the kind of kids that I’m looking for. Yes, they get paid. Yes, the summer staff get paid per hour. They do have the opportunity to earn money for the summer. But I’m really looking for the kids who have this mission mentality. This mentality that they really want to give back. They want to spend their time. They really have an idea of influence, of bringing impact to a kid. Weddings Venue Tulsa

I write the summer camp program every summer for Camp Loughridge. We design and build great elements for activities. We have high ropes course, low ropes course. We have a lot of games. We have a beautiful aquatic center where the kids can swim. We do a world-class nature study. But all of these things really fall flat if we don’t have the right staff. We put a lot of emphasis on who we hire and how we hire. I will not just go to the high schools here in the Tulsa area but I’ll try to pinpoint the groups of students within those high schools like service organizations, student government, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, these kinds of associations and organizations within the school that really have what I would call a high-target or a target-rich audience for me to speak to. These kids, because they’re in those kinds of organizations, they’re showing that they have a mentality for service and a mentality for mission, of thinking beyond themselves. It’s not just about getting a job for the summer but rather, it’s about really giving back and really doing something, investing their time instead of just spending their time. Weddings Venue Tulsa

When I go to colleges, I really try to, although I do go to University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University because we have a great core group of students that are on staff from those schools, I will go there but I also go to a lot of the Christian schools like Oral Roberts University, Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Christian University, Southern Nazarene University, John Brown University over in Siloam Springs. These are places where I go to really recruit kids because, again, because they’ve chosen that school rather than maybe some other school, it shows where their head is out when it comes to mission and service.

I talked a little bit about going back to some of these schools like Oklahoma State and University of Oklahoma, also Tulsa University. We have a great core group of kids from those schools that have served on staff in the past. One of the things that I really try to do is go back and re-recruit or get those kids to come back. I don’t want every kid to come back [laughs]. It’s not one of those situations where I really try to repeat the staff. But I figure if I can get in a target of about 60% to 70% of the summer staff coming back the next year, then that gives me a good, strong base of students, staff with experience. I find that if I get more than that, 80% or 90% are coming back, then the staff tends to not have an edge. They are too comfortable in a way because they figure that they already know everything and that they already have an idea of what’s going to happen and they’re almost too comfortable. Weddings Venue Tulsa

I love bringing kids back on because they have that core experience and I don’t have to retrain in the Loughridge way on every single thing that we do. But I do like to have that 30% or 40% of kids on staff who are, this is their first time. When it’s your first time to do something, the butterflies are a little bit more vigorous. They’re a little bit more intense about their job. They’ve got the jitters. All of that is good. That is good. You know you’re ready. If you’re just a little bit nervous about what you’re about to do, that means you’re focused, that means you’re ready to go. Now, also, the new students that come, I’m specifically looking for students that have experience maybe in other camps or they volunteered for Vacation Bible School before or they’ve worked somehow with children before. Some of these kids are majors in child nutrition or majors in childhood development. We have a lot of expertise on staff as well.

Each of these kids that come that are brand new, they’ll bring their own wealth of experience to add to the really cool mosaic that becomes the summer camp program for Camp Loughridge. They’ll have their own ideas for skits and games and songs and chants and all of those things that make camp so fun for kids. They’ll mix in their new stuff with all the stuff that is already a part of our tradition. It’ll be a really cool mix for the kids. Weddings Venue Tulsa

I go in. Usually I get a few minutes to share with an organization or a group of students, talk about the opportunities available at Loughridge, really stress what I’m looking for in terms of mission and service. I know that by the words I use and the language I use when I’m making this short talk, this short presentation, that it’s going to connect with a certain group of people, certain group of kids in that room. Other kids, it’s going to go right over their heads and that’s totally fine because they’re probably not the kids I would want to talk to anyway. It’s those kids that go, “Yes. I want to be part of something that’s bigger than me. I want to go to a place where I can really invest my time.”

Especially some of these kids really have — they feel like they have a call on their life, they feel like they are designed and cut out for full-time ministry. But they’ve never been in full-time ministry so this is an opportunity for them to try these new things, to see how it feels. Like trying on a jacket to see how it fits. This, sometimes, is the very first job, very first ministry job that a lot of these kids have ever had. That’s a very cool place to be. It puts me in a seat of discovery. I get to see how these kids adapt and respond to the different styles of kids and the personality types and really help hold their hand through learning to be a leader, learning to be in ministry. Weddings Venue Tulsa

There’s also the high school kids. Some of these young kids, this is the first job they’ve ever had. It’s the first experience they’ve ever had of trading in their time and their effort and receiving money in return. With some of these kids, there’s quite a learning curve for trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do. Sometimes it’s some growing pains of understanding my time is not my own. I promise that I would go to work today. I can’t just call in and tell them I’m not going to be there. I can’t just sleep in because I stayed up too late last night. This is something I have to do. It’s really, it’s a learning, growing discovery experience for those kids too.

We’ve been talking today about Tulsa Summer Camp, specifically Camp Loughridge and talking about summer staff. My name is Michael Staires. Thank you for joining us.