Be More Productive - Have a Healthy Operation

At the ACA Annual Conference our keynote speaker, Ruby Compton, shared some ideas on how camp professionals can be more productive and make their own daily-jobs have a healthier operation. Here are our notes from her address:

What can you do in your own job for a healthier operation?


How is the job done? What are we trying to accomplish? The next time you put together a job description, put it together more like WHO will be served and less like what the job will do.

Are there any places that you can make the steps mindless?

For example, email. Email takes away the use of your time. Other people decide how you spend your time. Close your inbox. It’s really freeing. Add to your signature that you only check it a couple times a day. Check email at designated times during the day. No more than 3 times. Only look at email when you are ready to respond.  If you’re writing more than 3 sentences, make a phone call.


Set aside time for maintenance on all your operations. Think about “how’s it going?” For example, if you asked your car that question and it wasn’t going well, you would take it to the shop.

  • Maintenance Day: Recognize and preserve time for ongoing tasks and expectations.
  • Relationships:  Are not just for when you need something. Both your professional and personal relationships need maintenance.
  • End of day routine:  Set up for tomorrow. Tidy up, put together a to-do list, etc.

Maintaining good staff relationships with a stay interview. A stay interview is similar to the exit interview but instead ask questions like  ‘what would it take for you to stay?” Ask how it’s going and what it takes for them to keep working here. You might be surprised and don’t be afraid if you think they’ll ask for more money it probably won’t be that much. Then implement those things and check back with them in half a year.


Take time to reflect because you’re always entertained. When there’s a slow moment there is always something to do like go on your phone or Facebook. Ask your staff what their needs are in their job and have them create their own hierarchy of needs. Figure out which needs are priority and work from there.

Don’t be afraid to put space in a job description so your staff will have time to grow. When creating a job description, make sure there is space that can be filled in with something. One way you can do that is to have a creative project. For example, building a trail guide for all the forest that your camp use. Your boss didn’t say you had to do that, but it would be cool for them to do. Put a piece that says ‘a creative project to be assigned’.

It’s also more productive to have different physical spaces in your work area: a creative space, quiet space, space for conversations, etc.


What brings you joy? Try asking it as an interview question when hiring staff.

Remember that humans are playful creatures. Your team needs an opportunity to play together. Learn more at Play is not a specific game or activity. It is a state of mind that brings new energy to the tasks at hand and sparks creative solutions.

Categories: Aca Annual Conference, Camp Resources