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“The most exciting discussions you can possibly have at a camp are going on right now. We’re literally talking about underwater viewing ports, adventures around the world, putting sensors and cameras to observe wildlife throughout our ecosystems and seeing through the eyes of the Hubble telescope by having relationships with science and research centers,” says King. “We’re hoping to partner with businesses that are coming out with cutting-edge natural resources for energy — solar, wind and fuel cells. Most businesses would be reticent being the Guinea Pig, but they can try it out here and incorporate it into our program. We’re very interested in stewardship of natural resources — it’s one of our key programming components.”

Programming Facilities

Though there’s a lot of talk about facilities, Storer’s executive director, Kathy Treiber, says that programming is the guiding force behind any facility plans.

“At one point we were building facilities and figuring out how the program was going to fit the facility,” says Treiber. “Now we’re looking at programs — what does the program look like and then what facilities do we need to build to support the program?”

This realization came hand-in-hand with the equally important realization that the camp needed to focus its programming. At one time, the camp found itself in the common quandary of trying to be all things to all people.

“About three years ago we had a board/staff planning retreat and we started sharing our challenges. What came out of that was a refocus, and we decided to focus on our three core areas — summer residence camps, outdoor environmental education and conference camping,” says Treiber. “What we have found when we put our focus on those areas is that we improved all three areas and grew our enrollment. We decided who we were going to be and how best to serve our guests.”

From those three core areas, key threads, or activity areas, would run from each of them. The key activity areas include aquatic/waterfront, adventure programming, horseback riding, target sports, art and outdoor environmental education.

The camp also found, based on its three core programming areas, that one-day programs did not work as well within the structure, even as a year-round camp.

“We believe the longer the stay, the better the experience,” says Treiber. “If our guests asked for a one- or two-day stay, we wanted to serve the guest, but we were finding that wasn’t the best experience.”

All of these factors combined to help make the camp a full-fledged year-round facility. King says the camp may have seen 30,000 people come through from 1918 to 1963, but recent years have seen an annual influx of 30,000.

This exponential growth has forced the camp to update its systems, facilities and organization. Rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, the camp has quickly brought in the tools and procedures necessary to handle it.

For example, five years ago the camp may have had one computer and seasonal registrars. Now it has more than 20 networked computers and full-time registrars.

“We have over 100 buildings here and all kinds of equipment — air conditioners, furnaces, roofs, glass, floor and wall coverings,” says Treiber. “We’re putting together replacement schedules for all of our equipment and facilities. We want to have a comprehensive inventory of everything we have here at camp and what a replacement schedule would look like for each item, so we would know how to budget each year. We would be replacing things before they actually broke, in a sense.”

Having all this at their fingertips, categorized and budgeted is currently in the works. The inventory comes first, followed by input and implementation. The automation of these maintenance details will go a long way toward mitigating any surprises down the road.

Character Counts

To ensure the success of its present operations, and its future plans, Storer Camps maintains its core values, which could best be described in one word, character.

Storer Camps strongly believes that one of the best things it provides to the region it serves is an experience that teaches character in its many forms.

“It’s the experience of living with other kids and staff and getting to do things they can’t do anywhere but camp that people leave camp with and remember forever,” says Treiber. “Those are life-changing experiences and we foster that through our mission.”

Character begins with the leadership and filters down through the camp staff and to the campers. The ideal is maintained through careful staff hiring and constant reminders throughout the camp session.

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