Decode Camp Staff Burnout: The Camp Staff Experience Wheel

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The Camp Experience Wheel: Measuring the Camp Staff Experience

Imagine this: it’s mid-July, the sun is blazing, and your camp is in full swing. Campers are laughing and learning, but behind the scenes, your staff is starting to show signs of wear and tear. You notice some are looking exhausted, others are feeling overwhelmed, and a few are beginning to openly pine for the season to end.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Issues arising from staff burnout seem to multiplying each season, leaving many camp directors wondering can be done to reduce strain on staff without compromising the fun and safety of campers. What if there was a tool that could help you understand and improve your staff’s experience with precision? Enter The Camp Experience Wheel.

Why Measuring the Staff Experience Matters

Camp has always been a high-energy experience but in modern times burnout is quickly becoming a top issue in the camp world. No news no longer means good news. Long hours, intense schedules, and constant interaction can wear down even the most enthusiastic staff members.

“By understanding what makes your staff tick and what ticks them off, you can create a work environment that people want to come back to.”

By measuring the staff experience, you can catch early signs of burnout and do something about it before it’s too late. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions show your staff that you care, making them feel valued and supported. This simple step can make a big difference in preventing burnout.

And preventing burnout isn’t just about getting staff through a current season. A healthy staff is also a returning staff. High turnover not only disrupts the camp environment but also means you’re constantly training new people. By understanding what makes your staff tick and what ticks them off, you can create a work environment that people want to come back to. A good staff experience means less turnover, more continuity, and a better camp season for everyone.

Working at a camp is rewarding, but it can also be emotionally and mentally taxing. Giving your staff tools to process their experiences helps them manage stress and enjoy their job more. When staff can openly share their feelings and experiences, they feel heard and understood. This creates a supportive and positive camp culture.

The Camp Experience Wheel: a new take on a time-tested tool.

The Camp Experience Wheel is a customized version of the Wheel of Life, a popular, time-tested coaching tool that intuitively helps people gain an overall perspective of their lives and give a voice to their current experience.

It’s a simple concept: a circle divided into sections, each representing a different area of life like career, health, relationships, and personal growth. You rate your satisfaction in each area and get a visual snapshot of where you’re thriving and where you need some work. This tool is great for helping people see the big picture and make connections between different parts of their lives.

Wheel/pie chart showing different categories in the life of camp staff.

Seeing your life laid out in a visual format can be a real eye-opener. It helps you understand how different areas of your life affect each other and where you might need to focus your energy. For camp staff, using a similar tool can provide insights into their work experience and overall well-being. It’s about more than just data; it’s about understanding and improving their everyday lives at camp.

The Camp Experience Wheel takes the concept of the Wheel of Life and tailors it to the camp environment. This version includes core areas that are crucial to the camp experience: Campers, Role, Resources, Energy, Community, Fun, and Administrative Support.

  1. Campers: How interactions with campers affect staff energy and satisfaction.
  2. Role: Clarity and fulfillment in job responsibilities.
  3. Resources: Availability and adequacy of resources for job duties.
  4. Energy: Physical and emotional energy levels during the camp season.
  5. Community: Sense of belonging and connection with other staff.
  6. Fun: Opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment.
  7. Administrative Support: Support and communication from camp administration.

Using the “Camp Experience Wheel,” directors can regularly check in on how their staff is doing. Staff members rate their satisfaction in each area, giving a clear picture of their overall well-being.

This information helps directors make informed decisions to enhance specific areas of the staff experience. For instance, if staff give low ratings pertaining to their role, you might make time to go deeper into clarifying expectations or discover competing expectations that would otherwise be hard to spot.

Facilitating the Camp Experience Wheel

Facilitate the Camp Experience Wheel in two main movements: completing the wheel and then reflecting on what it communicates. Guide your staff to evaluate each area of the wheel giving a 1-10 rating with one being “going very poorly” and ten being “going very well” and draw a line the area of the wheel of the area of their experience they are assessing.

The number should reflect how they are thinking and feeling in the given moment rather than how they have felt in the past or hope to feel in the future. After drawing a line across each section, participants shade in each area from the center out to their rating line. This should produce a circle-shaped graph that is a visualization of their current thoughts and feelings pertaining to the camp staff experience.

“It’s important to focus on creating a space for open and honest communication rather than just gathering data.”

While collecting and visualizing data is useful, the real magic happens in the debrief. After graphs are generated, be sure to carve out time for your staff to reflect and discuss what their wheel represents. These observations can reveal underlying issues and foster a supportive environment. It’s important to focus on creating a space for open and honest communication rather than just gathering data. These conversations can lead to meaningful changes and a stronger sense of community.

Finally, maximizing the impact of this tool means facilitating and reflecting in cadenced intervals throughout the season. A single measurement & debrief won’t be as impactful as developing the habit of measuring and debriefing.

There is also an additional opportunity to generate value by aggregating results to look for patterns in departments or time frames. Do counselors burn out quicker than activity staff? What are early-season issues verses late season issues? Aggregating the Camp Experience Wheel could provide deeper insights for directors looking to constantly improve the staff experience.

Pro-Tip: Consider facilitating the Wheel of Life – Student Edition exercise during staff week to help staff evaluate their overall status at the beginning of the season as well as familiarize themselves with the tool and experience. Then use the Camp Experience Wheel to regularly measure and process the camp staff experience.


Measuring the camp staff experience is key to preventing burnout, boosting retention, and helping staff process their experiences. The Camp Experience Wheel is a practical and insightful tool that can make a big difference. By visualizing different aspects of their experience and having meaningful conversations, staff members can better understand their well-being and feel more supported in their roles.

Directors who prioritize the staff experience will see a happier, more dedicated team and a more successful camp.

Thumbnails of the Camp Experience Wheel and Wheel of Life downloads.

Ready to give it a try? Download both the Wheel of Life – Student Edition and the Camp Experience Wheel by CLICKING HERE. Each includes a detailed facilitator’s guide, and we’d love to connect to answer any questions or hear feedback on your experience. Do you have something that helps keep staff fresh? Leave us a comment below!

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