Summer Camp Consulting

Dr. Sarnell provides presentations and consultation to camps and schools related to mental health, performance enhancement, leadership, anxiety management, goal setting, motivation, mindfulness, camp culture, and a variety of other topics. Dr. Sarnell has spent 15 summers working at Tyler Hill Camp in various roles, including Lacrosse Director, Athletic Director, Division Leader, and her current position as the Girls' Head Counselor.  Dr. Sarnell draws from her training as a psychologist and her hands on experience working at camp to create sessions tailored to your camp, customizing her presentations in order to best serve your community.  If you are interested in having Dr. Sarnell talk to your organization, email to set-up a free 15 minute phone consultation to discuss what would be most helpful for your camp.  Here are some topics that Dr. Sarnell frequently presents on:

Counselor Training Presentations

These sessions can also be presented to leaders, either as a train-the-trainers session or as an opportunity for your leadership team to learn skills that they can implement themselves

Counselor Toolkit: Concrete Strategies for Managing Campers’ Emotions and Behavior

Great counselors are amazing at forming relationships with their campers while also doing an excellent job of managing daily tasks and difficult situations. When campers experience strong emotions or misbehave, counselors thrive when they have concrete tools that help them improve the situation. This session will present a set of foundational skills in emotion management and behavior management.  The strategies covered are grounded in cognitive behavioral theory and presented in an interactive way, using movie clips and discussion, and can also incorporate role plays.

This information can also be presented as separation sessions focusing either just on emotion management or just on behavior management.

Being your BEST: Coping with Stress and Performing up to your Potential

Happy counselors make for happy campers. However, counselor happiness can be elusive given that many counselors come to camp with a history of anxiety or other mental health concerns, and the camp environment creates unique stressors that can heighten emotions. While you want to be there to support your staff when they experience difficult emotions, you also need them to get the job done. Counselors need help learning how to cope with anxiety within the camp environment, so this session teaches counselors concrete tools for performing at their best while managing anxiety. 

This can also be broken down into sessions that focus on specific aspects of this presentation, such as an interactive session focused on motivation (finding your why) and goal setting. 

From Anxious to Brave: Strategies for Helping Campers Cope with Anxiety

When campers experience anxiety, some of our responses, like providing excessive reassurance and permitting avoidance, end up increasing levels of anxiety over time.  Strategies that decrease anxiety in the short-term sometimes have the opposite effect in the long-term. This session will help you understand the impact of your responses and teach you a system for helping campers who are struggling with anxiety. You will learn how to prompt campers to cope constructively and how to be a model of brave behavior. This session is filled with concrete tools that you can use to create an environment where campers can manage anxiety, step outside of their comfort zone, and have an amazing summer. 

Can’t Sleep? Strategies to Help Campers with Sleep Anxiety

When a camper has trouble sleeping, it negatively impacts their summer. While their counselors try their best to help, they often don’t know what to do. As the child continues to struggle with sleep, both the camper and counselor will start to feel especially run down. Some campers have anxiety disorders that contribute to difficulty falling asleep, some have specific worries about falling and staying asleep, and some have a combination of both. This interactive session will focus on giving you important information about sleep, an understanding of how anxiety impacts sleep, and specific anxiety management strategies for helping campers with difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. 

Mindfulness Skills

Being a camp counselor is a non-stop, high energy, emotionally taxing job, and staff members greatly benefit from having skills in place to manage stress on a moment-to-moment basis. Since counselors have little down time, they need an approach to stress management that can have a meaningful and enduring impact. Mindfulness is all about being fully present. It offers skills that help us cope with stressful thoughts and emotions, and mindfulness practice improves our ability to be in the moment and enhances overall well-being. This practical mindfulness session will provide concrete techniques that can be easily integrated into the camp environment.  The goal of this hands-on presentation is to teach staff tools to be present, engaged, and resilient all summer long. 

Leadership Presentations

From Boss to Coach: Leadership Lessons from Sports

While bosses direct their employees, coaches develop their players, teaching and encouraging them to reach their maximum potential.  Coaches give constant feedback, both positive and constructive. They also give their players the skills needed to implement the changes that will improve their performance.  The best coaches motivate players by creating an environment that enhances intrinsic motivation.  They define roles and goals and create team cohesion. When you adopt a coach leadership style, you can transform your team and help your counselors thrive. You can increase your staff’s performance, motivation, and their ability to work together. This session will provide specific leadership strategies that you can implement to become an effective coach that brings out the best in your team.

Nixing Negativity: Creating a Culture of Positive Thinkers

From complaining about the weather, to criticizing a counselor behind their back, to making fun of an activity that went poorly, to talking negatively about a camper, some members of your community rarely focus on the positive. Their negative attitude can infiltrate your culture and bring those around them down.  As a leader, you have the opportunity to set the tone and create a more positive culture within your camp. Once you have an understanding of how negativity arises among your staff members, you can create a plan to turn things around.  This session will teach you systems that you can put in place to foster positive thinking styles that will benefit everyone at your camp. By learning concrete strategies for promoting positive thinking, you can teach your staff to radiate positivity and create the best environment possible for your campers.