Beyond Summer

In planning your budget you need to remember that each one of these programs requires facilitators, heavy facility usage and also requires an expansion of your kitchen facilities and maintenance capabilities.

Remember Support Services!

Too many time directors see the chance to expand programming and forget the basic support services that need to be expended to allow for the program growth. Are you going to do it? Are you hiring others to take care of it?

Basic rule: People need to eat when they are with you! Second rule: If you want them back they need to eat well! Third rule: Bathrooms make or break you guest experience. Final rule: The appearance of your grounds says a lot about the care of the camp and the attention to detail of the staff.

Failing to feed guests properly and present a clean facility will work against any successful program you may facilitate or deliver. Your guests will still remember the food and the facility look.

Hiring full-time kitchen or part-time kitchen and maintenance costs money and it is hard to just hire people for each event. I can tell you, as many of you I am sure could second, I have acted as cook, maintenance, grounds keeper and counselor all at the same event to make sure that it happened.

Find your break-even point for all programming. Too many times I have worked with camp staffs that don’t understand why they are not making money on year-round programming. The reason? The budget had not really been worked out.

Hopefully you have figured out the budget needed to run the program — counselors, support services, director time, facility heating cost, facility electric cost, program supplies, food, marketing, and so on, and created a rate and number of participants needed to run the program.

Remember that when you hire full-time people, or you’re keeping animals full time, even with no guests in camp you are paying and feeding them. Those weeks have to be worked into the equation and budget.

There is no shame in canceling a program that would result in a loss to you and your camp. The shame is if you cancel too many in a row.

Usually, too low of enrollment is connected with marketing and word of mouth sales. We have found a large success in first marketing to the summer campers (people who know us) and then school fliers to the schools in our main target market area (word of mouth then works for you in selling the idea). Our traditional weekend program is now apart of the summer brochure and all open house presentations.

It is important to realize that change in programming comes with educating your clients about the change. It is unrealistic to believe that the creation of a weekend program will automatically fill and pay for itself. You must approach off-season programming in the same way we approach summer camp.

Build tradition and deliver top-notch quality programming. If you do it… do it well. Grow your staff as you grow your program. It is easier to add needed staff then to cut unneeded ones. Just strive to continue your camps mission to deliver a magical experience of quality to your campers and parents.

Jeff Merhige is the executive director of YMCA Camp Kern, Dayton YMCA, Dayton, Ohio.

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  3. Collaborative Programming
  4. Collaborative Programming
  5. Summer of Surprises

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