Strengths-based Staff Curriculum

Type: Guide
Topics: Camp Management


Each of us has character strengths that we can leverage to strengthen ourselves, other people, and the world. These sessions are designed to help seasonal staff understand their own strengths, and begin to see how other people’s strengths, which may be different from their own, can be used to make camp a kinder and more nurturing place. This staff curriculum leverages the VIA Character Strengths tool and includes three sessions with additional resources – created by In The City Camps with Dr. Betsy Stone and Ellen Rank.

The sessions focus on three “big ideas”:

  • Each of us has character strengths that we can leverage to strengthen ourselves, other people, and the world.
  • We need to practice personal kindness, and accept ourselves and see ourselves as a work in progress with no end piece.
  • Campers have strengths and we can help them to build/reinforce their strengths.




In summer 2022, headed into the third summer impacted by the COVID pandemic, Eileen Price, CEO of In The City Camps, and Danya Maloon, Camper Care Director of In the City Camps, noticed that (to paraphrase a common term) “the kids were not alright.” Campers and staff were struggling in ways they had not previously seen.

They observed more acute behaviors in campers and staff: less tolerance of distress and reduced emotional bandwidth; reduced capacity to make choices; fewer prosocial behaviors; fewer skills around negotiation and choice-making.

These young people had been through a cultural, generational trauma, and many of them were still experiencing the upheavals and disruptions of adolescences lived during a pandemic.

Danya and Eileen determined that moving forward in their staff training In the City Camps wanted to focus, not on deficits or areas of improvement, but on strengths—interior, deeply unique characteristics that drive all human behaviors.

In the City Camps turned to noted psychologist Betsy Stone, Ph.D., and curriculum developer, Ellen Rank, to construct a strengths-based curriculum focused on emotional regulation; excavation, interrogation, and discovery of self; and strategies to guide staff on their journeys to help campers discover their unique and vital strengths.

This curriculum was created through a collaboration between Dr. Betsy Stone, Ellen Rank, Eileen Price, and Danya Maloon, LMSW, LMAT. In The City Camps and the co-creators are honored to share these sessions for all to access — the edification of Jewish youth is the main goal, just as we know it is yours.

Foundation for Jewish Camp, through the Yedid Nefesh initiative, is excited to help share this resource for camps to adapt and apply across the field.

Please use these documents as they are presented or modify them at your discretion. Feedback is welcome, we would love to hear how your camp adapted and applied these resources!


 Join us for a webinar to learn about this Strengths-Based curriculum for staff. 
Watch the Walk Thru Webinar