Wisconsin-Based Summer Camp Creates Endless Positive Feedback Loop for Staff – Here’s How
Camp Menominee Owner Jason Feldgreber, along with trusty sidekick, Buster, cruise around camp on the cart (sources: original photo from Camp Menominee website; design by Emily Maul).
“You’re amazing!”. “Thanks for all your hard work”. “Best counselor ever!”.
These are some of the comments both staff and campers were flooded with this past summer in Eagle River, Wisconsin, at Camp Menominee.
Typically, things move fast at this boys’ sleepaway camp. Open for only three months of the year, squeezing every ounce of summertime fun is necessary. But nonetheless difficult. Between water skiing, archery and skit nights, shuffling around campers can be… well… a full-time job.
“In our space the staff work so hard – they’re in the trenches every day. At times, they feel tired,” Feldgreber shared. “The days go by so fast and we unfortunately can’t always take the time to praise staff members individually.”
A group of campers poses for the camera (source: Camp Menominee website).
Feldgreber shared that historically it was all too easy to focus on the negatives.
“We’d think about the ways in which the staff could improve, so then the great moments they did have were sometimes buried.”
It was, and still is, very important to camp owner and director, Jason Feldgreber, to implement positive feedback into the camp’s every day routine. So how exactly did frequent, positive feedback fit into this camp’s busy schedule? Former camper herself and Founder/CEO of Hylite, Marissa Fetter Hochster, had the answer.
Hylite is a positive-only feedback platform that celebrates employees’ hard work and ensures it doesn’t go unnoticed. With a quick scan of a QR code, anyone can easily leave a positive review about an individual. It takes less than 20 seconds, and no downloads are required.
Speed. Efficiency. Individuality. Although Marissa hadn’t worked with a camp before, she knew these concepts would benefit Camp Menominee, its staff, and its campers.
Once Jason heard about the platform, he was sold. He put up numerous QR codes around camp. Employees’ information was uploaded into the system, allowing them to get a quick text each time a Hylite came in.
And then something unexpected happened.
Hylite sign is hung up at Camp Menominee (source: Jason Feldgreber).
Hylites flooded in. From kitchen staff, to camp administration, to counselors, peers and parents alike were sending in Hylites faster than ever. The concept took off so well that the team decided to enable Hylites for campers too.
Check out a few Hylites below:
“My son’s three counselors were kind, professional, personable and loving. My son had NEVER spent the night away from home until camp ... upon leaving him to begin his first day of 2 weeks away, he was sad - crying - and one of them swooped in and made him feel safe. Upon picking him up from camp, they could not say enough wonderful things about him: details about his behavior, his daily activities and overall disposition with his cabin mates. I stood and spoke with these boys for a long time — I could feel how much they were going to miss my son. Thank you boys, for giving my son a safe space to grow and feel confident. All 3 of you are wonderful role models.” - Parent
“Thank you, Lukas, for your training, patience and kindness yesterday at the top of the tower. You are the right person up there! Calm and encouraging. I appreciate you.” - Pamela [staff member]
“Thanks to the kitchen staff for always putting a smile on my face when I enter the mess hall! You’re always positive and kind to everyone coming in for the meals. Love the energy in there :)” - Lukas [counselor]
Campers enjoy beach activities in Eagle River, Wisconsin (source: Camp Menominee website).
A few things happened at Camp Menominee once Hylite was in place, beyond frequent positive feedback and happier employees. Feldgreber noticed the staff got to know one another on a deeper level than in years past after seeing each other’s Hylites.
“When I was reading through Hylites I would see so many that emphasized character traits. ‘I didn’t know that Gene was so empathetic and compassionate!’ I’m not able to see every good deed each day, but the counselors were able to capture those moments for me,” Feldgreber said.
Additionally, Hylite served as a confidence boost for young counselors. These employees often didn’t realize the strong qualities they had until specific traits were called out in a Hylite.
“I’d hear something like, ‘I knew I could coach lacrosse but didn’t realize how much of an impact I had while coaching.’ That’s a self esteem boost, a confidence boost and makes counselors want to keep doing a great job,” Feldgreber shared.
From a business perspective, Feldgreber began leveraging Hylite in order to best pair up counselors and campers.
“Hylite helped me get to know the counselors really well. When I’d see Hylites come in about certain counselors and qualities that they had, I immediately knew which campers would benefit from their unique leadership styles. I felt like I was in the best position to have both counselors and campers succeed,” Feldgreber shared.
Campers enjoy ice cream on the lawn (source: Camp Menominee website).
This also extended to organizing leads for activities throughout the day at camp.
“I was now able to carefully select which staff were running which activities. Hylite helped me ensure that camp was great and that the kids had an awesome summer. The staff now knew when they were doing their best,” Feldgreber said.
Overall, Camp Menominee’s expectations were far exceeded with Hylite.
“Hylite was so impactful at camp because people like recognition,” Feldgreber shared.
“When you’re working in what can be a tough job with long hours, it goes so far to know that you’re positively impacting your environment. That you matter to others, to yourself, and to your company. People were really proud of their Hylites, and were excited to be seen by their peers.”
Hylite will return to Camp Menominee for another summer of good vibes in 2023. Additionally, several other summer camps will be joining the crew this upcoming season.
“I would 100% recommend Hylite to other businesses. I’d recommend it to every summer camp out there,” Feldgreber said.
A group surrounds the bonfire at Camp Menominee (source: Camp Menominee website).