A Better Way to Clipboard


The back of my tiny clipboard. They call me Derby here. It’s bliss.

Are you one of those camp directors who uses a clipboard for any and all information you need on hand? I sure am!

I have gone through summers of full clipboards (writing silly and profound quotes from campers and staff each year on the backs) with papers stacked on them, only to drop it in the dining hall and have important information tumble out. I tried a summer of using a smartphone and another using a tablet, but I quickly reverted to the old clipboard. I even tried the hipster PDA – a binder clip and index cards. I finally added a twist on the original and began to use a mini-clipboard: it holds half sheets of letter-sized paper.

“But, ShoelessJess,” you may be saying, “nothing we do at camp is on half sheets! Check-in/Check-out, Bus lists, schedules… I’ve always printed them on full letter-sized paper!”
To this I say, “Seriously? Shall I bust out some bullet points on how half-sheets are better?”

  • It saves paper. Bottom line. Last summer I used a mini clip board all summer and had maybe 5 sheets a week dedicated to schedules and duty rosters. That’s 4 days of schedule (front and back) on ONE sheet of paper! With so many of us trying to focus on conservation, it’s really hard to excuse 15 pages of schedule and duty roster each week.
  • It’s easier for staff to check their schedules. It seriously is. They almost all fold them into quarters and jam them in back pockets/backpacks/drybags and it just makes more sense to have to unfold it once rather than twice.
  • Have you ever gotten lost on a full page bus list? A half page is so much more handy.
  •    My Camp Director BagIt fits in places where you want to put it. For instance – I hate carrying a backpack. They are cumbersome and accumulate things that camp directors have no business carrying around with them. I carry sunscreen, bug spray, band aids, water, pens, radio, phone, and my trusty clipboard in my small messenger bag and still have room to jam in a t-shirt or rain poncho or two. And what fits perfectly in the outside pocket? My tiny clipboard.

Now that I’ve convinced you to use a tiny clipboard, let’s go over how I keep mine super organized:

Sheet 1: The Daily
This little guy is my lifeline, my lifesaver, and my favorite thing I’ve ever designed.derby's daily

Once upon a time, I would carry around a whole schedule and check it constantly, running my finger down the times and checking my watch. More recently, with upwards of 300 campers a week, I can’t be bothered to scan that way. I need today’s information. If I need to know what’s happening next week, my highly organized Google calendars will tell me on my phone when I sneak away from kids to check it. Derby’s Daily is:

  1. Date & Day – What camp director doesn’t have kids who ask this?
  2. Today’s Goals & Tasks – Although I could have one space for them, the goals and tasks area serve different purposes for me. The goals are multi-part projects (ACA Visit – prep Section PA) whereas the tasks may be parts of goals or unrelated things to do. (LAUNDRY! was on the task list yesterday.) I also make my goals at the top of the day and add to my tasks constantly. I didn’t add check boxes – I don’t use them. I cross things out.
  3. Meal Times & Hydration – If there’s one thing I preach and don’t practice, it’s being to meals on time and hydrate. This is my little way of reminding myself of those important parts of basic life. Our meal times fluctuate, and I’m usually late to them because of camp director and stuff. Each one of those little glasses represents 32 ounces of fluid – my goal is to bubble in at least 3 a day, which is hard in the winter. In the summer, I should really be filling all five.
  4. Photos? – Do I need to take them? Have we checked facebook, instagram, and twitter? Do we need to post to them?
  5. Call/Email – reminders of people to call or email. SO handy when I’m out and about and someone asks about something.
  6. Weather Forecast – just a little reminder of what the day is meant to look like. The moon part is there so I can either check off on evening activities or scrawl a big X through them.
  7. Important Times – Board meeting? Special presentation? Grammy acceptance speech?
  8. Stars & Dodos – Stars are things to compliment people on, Dodos are hilarious moments of staff being ding dongs. We go over them at the end of the week, but I always forget to write them up and put them in the box we keep for such purposes. I try to find a star every day.
  9. Announcements & Notes – the megaphone of camp director awesomeness!! Sometimes this holds a quote I want to give to the staff at morning meeting, sometimes it’s a reminder for the Friday meeting.

    Today's daily in action

    Today’s daily in action

Sheets 2-?: The Schedule

Our schedule here at 4-H Camp is different every week. Here is where I put this week’s schedule.

After the schedule…

Sticky Notes

After the schedule I have some blank pages for notes. I was never a fan of blank pages with no title (I have to be ORGANIZED), but Travis Allison of Camp Hacker once talked about how he’ll take notes with staff – handing off their copy of the notes so that follow up is so much easier with the presence of accountability. This practice has paid off tenfold! I also stick a few sticky notes to the clipboard itself – you never know when you may have to close a bathroom stall or draw a challenging stick-on target for the kids who excel down on the rifle range. TIP: Use the “Super Sticky” kind for longevity!

Do you want to use Derby’s Daily sheets?

Feel free! All of my clipboard templates are on the Resources page.