Reevaluating the Camp, Part 2

Being new to the job in this industry is really challenging, as is reevaluating and revamping it. As referred to in the last article a new director, or one who’s evaluating and working to improve the camp, has to establish a staff culture right away, guided by the vision he or she brings to it.

Related Article: Reevaluating the Camp, Part 1

After establishing this vision and the team atmosphere to approach it, it’s time to get to the details of running a camp. The details include creating a system of support made up of volunteers and advisors.

No one can do it alone. It’s a simple lesson but one that seems to be difficult to remember in the camp industry. We all are so used to doing it ourselves.

As program directors we can all tell stories of all the programs we ran at once, and all of the extras we still had time to do. All camp directors I speak to seem to have the same opinion when talking about the amount of work we have — it’s huge. To help achieve all that our vision outlines, the development of a good committee system and board is required.

Input Diversity

Here at YMCA Camp Kern we established five committees: Building and Grounds, Program and Special Events, Outdoor Education, Equestrian, and Alumni.

The committees are made up of a staff liaison, a board member to chair the committee and volunteers. I cannot stress enough the importance of a good committee system. These are people who have a vested interest in your camp and will spread the word about your camp through their work with it and general word of mouth to others.

Try to ask people to join you who have work experience that could be beneficial to the camp. I don’t know how to design a building! But one of the Building and Grounds committee members is an architect! He does, and will design for the camp. And if he doesn’t, he can help us through the process.

Committees are brainstorming sessions, and experts who the camp director can call on for advice and answers. Combined with the board, the committees are the library in which a camp director can research.

A great committee system allows volunteers to get a little more involved with your camp. It creates a bond and cultivates volunteers who may be ready to become board members.

The board is made up volunteers who represent all the areas a camp needs to run. The board members serve as chairpersons of the sub committees.

The board gives the results of the committee work and votes (policy and or advice) to the operation of the camp. A great board should be represented in experience for all the areas a camp director needs to be successful in running a business, and they should be community leaders of all calibers, who have a passion for what camp represents.

I have spoken to old directors who have had my position and they tell me stories of having great and bad boards. A great board is one when you can walk into a room and say, “Here’s the problem I am facing…” and the board responds with solving the problem by contacting the right people and surfing the right channels to fix or get what the camp needs.

A little warning about committees and boards! Make sure that you have clear objectives and outlines for committee and board members.

Leaving volunteers without guidance and boundaries can allow your board and committee to lose focus on the productive goals. No one wants their ides to always be lost in the committee process. You want ideas to be examined, improved and then implemented, not talked to death before they have the chance to live.

Developing Resources

Once your board of advisors is created, and a committee system to support them, there is another area that a camp director should always keep and eye on — development.

Here in the YMCA we have annual campaigns. These campaigns range in purpose from sustaining campaigns (assisting operation) and endowment campaigns to purely scholarship campaigns (where we raise money to send kids and families to camp). All types are important to a camp and branch operation and longevity.

No matter what your campaign type, you must actively pursue organizing and setting up a functional campaign. Here we run a Kids to Camp campaign, which is a purely scholarship-focused campaign.

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Related posts:

  1. Reevaluating the Camp, Part 1
  2. Dream to Reality
  3. Building for the Future
  4. The Recognition Factor
  5. Collaborative Programming
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