Q&A with Kirsty Hartshorne, Camp manager at Sheffield (Easter 2023)
A familiar face to parents and children in Sheffield, Kirsty Hartshorne has done almost every role imaginable with Kings Camps. After working her way from Multi-Sports Coach to Camp Manager, we sat down with Kirsty to ask her all about life with Kings and as a manager.
Why have you been with Kings Camps for so long, what keeps you coming back?
Once you start working for Kings Camps, it becomes infectious and you never want to leave!
Even though sometimes with other commitments with a teaching job or other work, logic tells you that you should stop – but, there’s something about Kings that pulls you back every time1
For me, it’s the energy of the other staff, the working with the children, knowing the difference and the impact you make season after season.
What’s a day like for a manager?
There’s a lot of admin work, getting camp set-up with the registration tables, posters etc – plus you’ve got to be the happy, smiley and knowledgeable face for the parents.
I describe it as being the invisible cog behind the scenes making sure it all works really well.
I try and be the person that takes all of the pressure off of the coaches – they’re the ones coaching the kids all day so it’s about doing the logistics to make sure the parents feel really positive [about sending their child to camp], the kids feel really positive, the coaches have a good time and everyone keeps coming back.
What’s the benefits of working for kings for you?
You know you’re doing good and that’s a massive thing for me, you know you’re making a massive difference to these children’s lives, you know your inspiring them.
One of my most memorable seasons was last summer when we shared places for Ukrainian children, it was lovely to welcome them, give them a safe place and get them having fun and making new friends. That was really special.
Also, more generally, it’s just knowing that not only am I helping to make a difference to a child’s life, but also to the staff’s lives.
Being able to help them to progress in their career with the feedback I give from their sessions or when I’m just generally chatting to them about how to organize things – I know they’re taking that with them into their sporting or teaching careers.
The loyalty as well from head office is great, they’ll be flexible and understanding, they’ll work around what you can and can’t do because they want (where possible) to have the same staff teams returning season after season.
What makes a good camp manager?
Organization! You need to be fun, you need to be energetic & enthusiastic, and all of those things, but a lot of coaches have that in abundance as well – for a manager it’s having that eye for detail which is key.
You need to be aware of what’s really needed on camp and ultimately making sure that all the children are having an a amazing time, all the coaches are also having an amazing time because happy coaches = happy children.
It’s also about the parents, you need to ensure their needs are met with those nuggets of information, as you’re the one they’ll turn too with those questions and queries.
You also need to be on the phone to head office who are really supportive in managing queries or issues. Overall, it’s having that overview of knowing every detail of camp life and being the person that does the job nobody wants to do and keep camp ticking over.
What gives you the biggest buzz as a camp manager?
Peeling children off of their parents on that first morning where they’re nervous and anxious about trying something different, and then seeing them skip home at the end of the day / week happy, excited, worn out having had an amazing time!
Knowing you’ve played a part in that is something money can’t buy, it’s even better when you’re watching that longer journey as they keep coming back season after season. It’s the parents coming back as well and saying how much Kings Camps has transformed their child – that’s a big part of being a manager, I get to speak to those parents, that child on a Monday morning and then keep tabs on how they’re doing within their groups, what they’re enjoying, what friends they’re making etc.
Why would you encourage others to join us and shape their summer?
Quite a few teachers I know automatically go “why would you want to go and work on a Camp during your time off?” It’s simple, it’s not teaching, it’s something completely different it’s got that more relaxed feeling to it.
You’re having a good time with other staff, with the children and it’s a massive confidence booster for you but you also get to boost the confidence of others adults and children alike!
In the summer, you have fun in the sun (most of the time!) and you know you’re working for an organization who generally want to make a difference.