Discussing The Specifics of Elite Specialty Camps
May 19, 2017 by
Camp Q&A : Stephanie Rudnick, Camp director at Elite Camps
Q: How long have you been the director of Elite?
I started it in 1999.
Q: What is your favourite part of your job?
I would say staff development, developing leaders on court and off court as well.
Q: What does it take to be a camp counsellor?
You want to make sure they’re responsible, to keep the kids safe. Safety is our number one priority. Obviously, we want them to love children, enjoy their company. At our camp, because we’re a specialty camp, they obviously have to have a love for basketball. When we hire staff, we want people that will be able to pass on their passion for the sport. They’ve had a coach sometime in their life that obviously made an impression on their lives. Those are the kinds of people we’re looking for because those are the ones that want to give back.
Q: What can parents do to prepare their kids for camp?
I think it’s important they choose the right camp. I think it’s important that kids are spoken to about their options. You know, basketball camp can be somebody’s wildest dream or somebody’s worst nightmare. If a parent wants them to be physically active and shoves them into a very sport-specific camp, that could be very tough, but if the kid genuinely loves our sport then they will just love our camp. So, it’s really important for parents to talk to their kids and find out what they’re interested in.
Q: How can you prevent exclusion at camp?
We have a five-day plan in terms of getting to know you and getting to know other kids and coaches on the team. We call it our ‘feeling of family five-day plan’ and everyday, we do some kind of morning activity to get to know the kids better and for them to know each other better. There are always kids who find it hard to fit in and their coaches are charged with helping facilitate and buddy them up, finding like-minded kids, bridging the gap. There are often programs and lunch activities where we’re including trivia and kids are sitting with their teams, so we alleviate some of the pressure to do it on their own.
Q: Over the years, have you noticed any changes in the way camps are run or in the way kids and their parents approach camp?
Camp used to be very traditional. You used to have to sign up for multiple weeks of camp. You had to commit your child to four-week programs. Ever since I started, I was always a one-week camp and now there’s a trend for keeping it to one week; a lot of camps are turning to one-week programs to meet the needs of parents and kids who want to try different programs.
Q: Is there any camper or instance you remember that really exemplified the power or spirit of camp?
I think we see it all the time, when we have our campers return as staff. They want to be a part of our camp culture; they want not only to be a part of our staff, but also the ability to give back to other campers because they loved it so much. They feel so strongly a part of our camp family that they want to be a part of it in a staff way. To me, that’s the ultimate compliment. To me, that’s the most powerful indicator that they really buy into our culture and they love what we do and they want to pass it on to other kids.