Lock it Up

Whether you are considering a major renovation or brand new facility for your camp business, you will thank yourself later if you research how your locker and restrooms can best meet your campers’ and staff members’ needs.

When you think about it, the importance of instilling confidence that your camp business is professionally run is communicated through what people see.

Just about everyone who visits or stays at your camp will use one of your restrooms. Whether it is a parent, a vendor, a health inspector, a prospective camper, or a camper on day one, the cleanliness and the overall aesthetic of these spaces can make a lasting impression.

Make a List

So before you start the planning phase for a new facility or a renovation of an existing one, be sure that you have the locker and restrooms on your list to carefully consider.

It is all too easy to get seduced into thinking about just the activity areas, i.e., debating how many lanes can you afford to build in a new swimming pool or perhaps how can you squeeze air conditioning for the gymnasium into the budget.

It is all too common for the locker and restrooms to be put on the back burner and minimized because the budget is tight. However, a locker room or restroom that is dark and dingy or hard to find can negatively impact your customers’ impressions of your camp business.

If you do it right, the design development phase should include interviewing campers, staff members, and several key visitors from your camp business.

Another important exercise would be to visit other camps that have just completed new construction and renovations to ask the owners what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Asking them what they wished they had done differently and if they had any surprises about the final cost of construction are also great ways to learn what to do differently.

Once you have that kind of grassroots input, you can use it to springboard into the design considerations with an architect or someone who specializes in these facilities. Listed below are some ideas that you might find helpful in both saving money and getting a great space that will serve you well for many years.

1. Before you make any design decision, which could include the type of flooring, countertops, circulation patterns, or even the type of locker, be sure to calculate the life cycle costs.

If you have to replace a cheaper item more often than an expensive one or if the labor costs of maintenance exceed the savings at construction, you will pay for that mistake for as long as you have the facility.

For instance, installing a carpet might be cheaper, but unless you religiously vacuum to keep the foot traffic from grinding in dirt, that 10-year, heavy duty wear carpet might have to be replaced in three years.

2. Take advantage of every incentive and grant program that will help to fund “green” initiatives. Your architect can help you research who offers financial assistance for incorporating state-of-the-art strategies to lower your energy, water and material costs over both the short and long term.

Taking the time to pursue these programs can be a small investment that can pay off immediately and keep on paying for the life of your facility.

Locker and restrooms are very high-consumption areas of your facility. Using energy-efficient fluorescent lights, occupancy sensors, translucent windows or skylights to gain natural light, as well as water saving showerheads, faucets and ultra-low flush toilets are all going to reduce your operating costs.

There are also building materials that can be used attract “green” funding. Recycled floor tiles, wall tiling made from recycled glass, and surfaces designed to reflect light to reduce artificial lighting needs can also reduce operating costs.

Another added value of using sustainable design strategies is the good public relations that it can build. Getting the word out that your facility is environmentally friendly and that you were savvy enough to find supplemental funding and reduce operating costs says a lot about your camp business.

To get you started there are two excellent sources for information on design strategies for sustainability: The United States Green Building Council (USGBC — www.usgbc.org) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED — www.usgbc.org/LEED). LEED has a wealth of information on sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency and sustainable materials that can be used in construction.

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