Sky High

The connection with the university gives the camp and its programs an endless supply of quality resources. For instance, the staffing challenge that most camps encounter is not a problem for Longhurst and Parker, who draw from a pool of thousands of bright, energetic and dedicated Brigham Young students just down the road.

“We utilize our students heavily and they help us facilitate most of our activities, programs and overall maintenance,” explains Longhurst.

For many of these students, being a camp counselor is their first shot at long-term employment, so the administration accentuates the opportunities for mentoring. By giving positive affirmations, clear upfront expectations, and loving confrontations, the summer counselors stay motivated.

Also, evaluations are given one month before the end of the summer, with time left to improve, change and grow, so that the staffer knows whether or not they would be welcome back the following year.

Longhurst adds, “We look at our employees as wanting them to be trainers and always developing, so we can operate as a family and that all tasks can be done by anyone.”

By training and developing college staff and allowing them to be creative brings fun and excitement to the family camp programs. Students are encouraged to initiate their creative ideas and given the freedom to explore the possibilities.

Some ideas planned recently were Pirate Day — complete with costumes — and Circus Day, involving clowning aspects and balloon hats.

Another invaluable resource is the availability of the BYU faculty for camp and conference speakers. By having the professors as guest lecturers, the programming is enhanced, the learning is topnotch, and the appeal to a variety of audiences is achieved.

Other resources connected with BYU include the access to state-of-the-art technology. The computer capabilities, such as databasing, financial reports, Web hosting, and the on-line reservation system are just a few ways the camp has benefited.

Longhurst explains, “Our business operations are tied into the campus, which makes it nice and helps the staff.”

Also, in mid- to late-80s when Aspen Grove was designing new buildings, the architecture department from the school was asked to be part of the development.

The close proximity to BYU has benefited both the camp and the university with the completion of the newest facility, the Aspen Lodge Conference Center, which opened in the year 2000.

In this win-win situation, the center serves the faculty and students by providing leisurely lodging to complement any get-away, but with all the technological amenities needed for educational, workshop and professional purposes.

Although there are no television sets in the 20 hotel-type rooms, many are equipped with Internet access, telephone connections, and areas to enhance study or business needs.

The Aspen Lodge Business center is operational with fax machines, computers and more so that the retreating student or the family businessman can stay connected with their work. “By supplying office resources, this allows more people to come to camp,” adds Longhurst.


Camp Director Glen Parker describes the unique transition made four years ago from summer to yearlong programming. “Year long conferencing worked well for us, because we are only 25 minutes away from the mother campus that we serve,” he says. “Other similar camps may be too far away from their market body.”

When shifting from only a summer camp to year-round programming, the organization grew from three administrators to ten full-time, year-round staff.

“To reduce overhead costs, we train our full time staff to do multiple tasks,” Parker says. “By having a few people multitasking we’ve been successful in running an effective operation that may take many, many more staff in other organizations.”

Parker sees the versatility of the staff as a positive experience. There is more satisfaction in their work, they gain more ownership and they are more apt to adapt. “It adds a fun dimension to the camp and takes away from the slow-time blues.” From filing papers one minute to pushing snow with a back-hoe the next, the streamlined staff has learned to run the grounds year round.

Apart from the full-time maintenance employee and some duties being shared with the college, the on-site employees pick up the slack when it comes to keeping the grounds and buildings functioning and clean.

“When times have been slow, it’s been feasible to close down, and we’ve had to maximize what we do best rather than spending effort on things with low results,” says Parker.

Parker remembers another critical decision he made that went against tradition, but helped his camp survive economically. When he took over as camp director 18 years ago, the staff was burned out, enrollment was declining and money was being lost.

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