Daily Newsletter – July 1, 2019

Good morning Friends of Capital Camps!

The Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program at Capital Camps is a comprehensive leadership development program for entering 11th graders.  The experience kicks off with four days in Disney World, followed by workshops and hands-on leadership opportunities back at camp.

The #1 question I am asked every year is: “Why do you take the LITs to Disney World?”  The answer is actually quite simple.  We believe that Disney is the very best at what they do, and here at Capital Camps, we want to be the very best at what we do.  Our missions are very similar – both organizations strive to create long-lasting memories and a lot of fun along the way!  The LITs participate in Disney’s Youth Educational Series (YES) and take a course entitled Disney’s Leadership Strategies.  EPCOT transforms into a classroom for the day, as the LITs investigate the ways in which leadership spurs innovation.

As part of this program, the LITs learn about the Disney Key Basics: safety, efficiency, courtesy, and show. These four elements make up the foundation of the Disney experience.  Upon arrival back at Camp, the LITs examine how safety, efficiency, courtesy, and show play a critical role in a successful summer at camp.  A few takeaways from this conversation.  First, we compared camp to a four-week long show; from the very second the “Welcome to Capital Camps” song is sung, as the buses pull through the camp gate, until the moment that each camper and staff member places a floating candle into the lake to say goodbye to an incredible summer.

These camp traditions are sketched into our memories alongside the plot twists and turns of a truly unique summer at Capital Camps.  Second, when we spoke about safety,I was proud to hear the LITs discuss campers’ emotional safety.  Our brain thinks about physical safety first, but the LITs were very much grappling with the ideas of emotional safety, and how they can make every camper feel comfortable and safe at camp.  Lastly, I was struck by all of the ideas the LITs had to make Capital Camps run more efficiently.

Another significant takeaway from the Disney YES program is that Disney puts a great deal of resources into employee training and professional development.  This is also mirrored at Camp.  In addition to a full week of staff training before campers arrive, counselors participate in “Lunch & Learn” sessions each week during the summer to continuously grow their skills.  We also began the Capital Camps Institute for Leadership & Learning (CCI) five summers ago.  CCI is a nationally-recognized leadership development program created by our agency, intended to turn camp into a living laboratory.  CCI Fellows engage in a substantive learning experience that integrates thoughtful study with their professional camp responsibilities.  Through participation in this program of leadership and character development, the Fellows grow in their capacities and commitments to serving the Jewish people at camp and beyond.

Walt Disney once said, “You can design, create, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.”  I think about this often, as I walk around camp during the off-season.  As amazing as this place is during the non-summer months, it didn’t really come alive and become a home until just eight days ago (June 23rd), when it was filled with hundreds of children – voices, smiles and curious minds included!

Have a Magical Monday!


Shira Brown
LIT Coordinator