The Bruins’ Summer Crew

“About 90 percent of the coaches don’t think about camp until a week or two before camp starts, other than the small bits of information you’re transferring to them during the year, so it’s important to have a relationship that’s built on trust,” says Crew. “This business is all about relationships — with the coaches, my supervisor, the departments on campus, the student union and the parents. One thing I started to figure out this past year is that instead of just a customer, you’re developing a client — someone who comes back with three kids every year for six years. That makes it easier for promoting your business, because word-of-mouth is the best way to promote your camp.”

Though word of mouth, like most camps, is the single best recruiter, Crew reports that a lot of business has been coming through the Web site (uclabruins.ocsn.com/camps/ucla-camps.html). “It’s a huge place for us to do business,” he says, adding that the camps use a number of different camp search engines and services.

Crew says that about 60 percent of the campers come from the greater Los Angeles area, with 80 to 90 percent from Southern California. The rest come from northern California, other parts of the U.S. and Canada and even a smattering of international campers from places as far-flung as Japan.

UCLA Sports Camps also advertise through local publications and camp fairs. “It’s amazing to me how early parents are starting to think about registering their kids for the upcoming summer,” says Crew.

To handle the avalanche of registration, UCLA Sports Camps uses CampRegister.com as its registration engine. Crew says they started using the system in 2001, beginning with the football camp. Crew says that it was easier to start more simply so that any glitches in the information transfer could be easily fixed. Then, what was learned from that initial test would be implemented as more camps came on-line.

“Back in ’97 and ’98 we were using an archaic database system, but now with the on-line registration it has helped us make leaps and bounds in registering people. It affects how you run your office where you had to hire a lot of temporary staff to process all the applications, but now that hiring process is much smaller, allowing you to spend more time developing other areas,” says Crew.

Staffing, says Crew, is actually one of the more challenging aspects of his job, as the staff is made up entirely of students. While students bring enthusiasm when the summer’s grinding along, the trick is to keep already-busy students on task.

The solution, says Crew, is simple. Once the two basic groups of staff are hired — office assistants and logistics managers — the orientation process focuses on what the camps’ expectations are and what they can expect from Crew as a supervisor.

It all goes back to Crew’s philosophy that expectations and reality must meet squarely, for the benefit of staff and supervisors, whether they’re coaches or office assistants.

“In order to capitalize on the market you need to think about it all year. If you’re in basic contact with the coaches on a daily basis it lets them know that you’re taking care of what needs to be taken care of for them,” says Crew. “You need to be as open and up front as possible.”

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