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Continuing the Conversation

 “Good conversational debate is an end in itself, and talking for the love of conversation is what makes us human.” –Malcolm Gladwell (in Outliers)

Like me, you have probably spent a lot of your adult life sitting in meetings. Although a teacher’s primary location in school is the classroom, there are still scores of meetings that teachers must attend: all-faculty meetings, department meetings, pre-planning meetings, end-of-the-year meetings, meetings with students and meetings with parents.  Without a calculator in hand, I would be hard-pressed to tally up all the hours I spent at school meetings.

Staff week at summer camp is another setting for countless meetings.  To be fair to those who plan and lead these meetings, I must agree that they are necessary.  The final days before campers arrive provide the last opportunity for staff to plan the entire camp session, in which there will be only occasional, fleeting moments to reflect upon successes and shore up strength to deal with challenges.  There isn’t much time for sitting at meetings.

Nevertheless, it is important to have conversations at camp. Over the years, I have found that informal conversations, which are consistently interrupted, can be productive.  The trick is returning to the conversation—picking up the threads of the discussion when they are frayed and reestablishing the connection between colleagues.  The actual topic of the conversation is secondary to the fact that it continues for an entire camp session.

If you are headed off to camp for your summer job, remember to take the time to talk to your coworkers and get to know them through a continuing, interrupted conversation. You will secure the bonds of friendship and build a stronger foundation for your working relationship.  And you will retain what makes you human as you meet the superhuman demands of working at camp. 

Wishing the hundreds of camp counselors a safe and productive summer 2011!

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