What’s this Staff Development Program I keep hearing about?

TannerWritten By: Tanner Thompson, Summer Camp Program Director. Here at YMCA Camp Benson, we have a summer camp program for teenagers that is unlike any other program at camp. This is an elite program that not every camper will try. This program is our Staff Development Program (SDP). Other camps have similar programs, like a Counselor-In-Training (CIT) or Leader-In-Training (LIT) program, but our’s is unique.

Our Staff Development Program spans a camper’s four years of high school. This ensures that not only do they have enough training to become a staff member at YMCA Camp Benson, but also that they become a more responsible, caring, honest and respectful young adult. The SDPs act as the big brother or big sister of the cabin. They assist the counselors in a cabin and help run camp activities throughout the week. This allows us to essentially grow our own amazing staff. This way, we know exactly who we are hiring and what they are capable of. For summer 2016, 23 out of our 30 staff members have gone through the Staff Development Program.

Do not let the name fool you. Our Staff Development Program doesn’t only prepare these high schoolers for a job at camp, it helps them see the impact they can have on our campers. These teenagers are the future and we want to give them as many tools as possible to help them succeed here at camp and out in the world. The future leaders of America reside here in our Staff Development Program.

Of course, I think highly of this program. Not only because I’ve dedicated the past three years to bettering this program, but also because I have spent four years in the program myself. YMCA Camp Benson would still be camp without the zip line and without kayaking but it would not be camp without the SDPs. If my words aren’t showing you the power and importance of this program, then these words from current SDPs will.


“It gas made me much more confident in being myself around others and made me a better leader.”


“It has changed my life by showing how to treat people respectfully, and it has helped me make new friends.”


“It has changed me from a bully to who I am today.”

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