Effective Staff Developments

Staff development and shakedown weekends may be helpful for planning and preparing for your course, but remember that some staffers have been through it all before while others are new to the whole staff thing. As experienced staff attend training weekend after training weekend, be sure to not only keep them involved and engaged, but use them as valuable resources to help train less experienced and new staff members. Don’t forget the fun either!

Tips and ideas for planning and running an effective staff development weekend:


Staff development weekends are not only the perfect time to plan who-does-what for the course but also a great time to practice. Presentations, leading reflections, creating some realistic first aid scenarios, morning assembly shenanigans, you name it – set aside time to actually do the activities rather than just plan them. Your staff will feel more comfortable when course rolls around and most likely, be more successful in imparting their knowledge on others!

Breakout Sessions

Obviously buzz groups work well for practicing presentations and coming up with ideas. At your staff development weekend, don’t forget that returning staff and new staff are coming from different backgrounds. You may want to break your staff into groups to review or explain what it means to be an NYLT staff member. Discuss any changes, improvements, or new ideas with returning staff members. Explain the roles of different members to new staff. Come back together and maybe even set aside some time for new staff to ask the group, or an assigned or chosen experienced staff member, questions about their responsibilities. New staff learns as returning members have the opportunity to share their experiences while improving their mentorship abilities. Keep both groups involved. It’s a win-win!


Some program shenanigans are tradition – a morning joke, a particular skit during a campfire – remember that new staff members have different skills and new ideas to bring to the table. Save and add to the tradition. Keep your course everlasting and ever-changing!

Songfests & Fun

Like any NYLT staff function, fun is inevitable. Although your staff may enjoy planning and participating in practice round robin games, or realistic first aid, don’t forget to include time for staff fun. Sing a song here or there, have an hour long songfest, hold an impromptu campfire, play board games, Ultimate Frisbee, charades, go for a short hike, tell some jokes, have a story telling contest – with a prize! – laugh. Staff will get to know each other better and feel more comfortable around each other. You may be together mainly for business-fun but the addition of silly fun makes for an even greater time!