Don't Forget to Celebrate Your Summer Staff!

Posted by: Heather Burright

A busy summer full of fun, learning and lifelong memories calls for a BIG celebration of the people that made it all possible.

Female Camp Staffers

Think about it. At this point, your summer program staff have gone the distance by singing camp songs on repeat, suffered embarrassing t-shirt tan lines and they probably know the location of every Harry Potter book for reading time.

Celebrating staff promotes a positive culture where people are motivated, feel valued and are more encouraged to help youth reach their full potential.

Here are some easy ways to celebrate your staff for making this the #BestSummerEver:

Invite staff to a fun, end-of-season party

  • Secure a space for the celebration
  • Purchase or have staff bring their favorite healthy foods
  • Provide water and other healthy beverages
  • Decorate the space with pictures and memories from the camp season

Prompt staff to share impactful camp stories

  • Grab a pack of UNO cards
  • Give each staff person one UNO card
  • Ask staff to share a story about the camp season—a camper, a staff person, or an experience—based on the card they receive
    • RED = Most memorable day of camp
    • YELLOW = Someone who Found a Place to Belong
    • GREEN = An Accomplishment Someone Made
    • BLUE = A Relationship that Grew
    • WILD = Something Fun!

To request access to more ideas like the Living Our Cause Nugget above, reach out to

Publicly recognize and thank summer staff on social media for their contribution for being transformational youth developers. Be sure to include pictures and quotes from program participants and use #BeCauseY and #BestSummerEver.

Ask staff to invite themselves back next year!

  • Provide each staff person with a postcard
  • Ask staff to write their favorite memory or quote on the card and address it to themselves
  • Hold on to the cards and mail them out during staff recruitment next year!

Challenge them. Use challenges with youth development staff as a way to explore what it means to be a youth development leader and celebrate their successes. To request access to the Transformational Trek Staff Challenge, reach out to

Looking for more tips and support?

Share your staff celebration ideas with me on Twitter @HeatherBurright #BeCauseY

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.