This past summer I spent my driving time listening to the audio book version of Delivering Happiness, by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. Zappos, in case you haven’t heard of it, is a company that built its name by selling shoes over the internet.
Why, exactly, is a director of a small-town day camp reading about selling shoes over the internet?
Firstly, because it was recommended on another camp director’s blog, and that’s how I found out about it. But more importantly, it is not so much the story of internet commerce as it is about creating a unique company culture. Culture is something that every camp professional pays a lot of attention to. And just look at the title: Delivering Happiness. Doesn’t that sound like camp?
Without summarizing the entire book, (as others have already done this more thoroughly than I ever could) the heart of what makes Zappos tick is the “Core Values” – the shared beliefs that all functions in the company are built on. This concept really inspired me to examine our own values at MKDC.
Throughout the summer of 2010, my staff and I had ongoing conversations about what camp means to us, and what we felt were the most important lessons that we wanted our campers and staff to take away from their time at camp. What follows are the ten goals we boiled everything down to:
- Take care of one another.
- Accept challenges.
- Do more with less.
- Be flexible.
- Be silly and a little weird.
- Respect individuality.
- Make healthy choices.
- Grow and learn.
- Build family spirit.
In 2011, and onward, these core values will play a key role in every aspect of camp, from programming to staff leadership. They will even become the framework which our staff training will be built on. Over the next few blog posts, I will explain each one in greater detail, and give some examples of how they will be implemented.