Who Did We Build It For?

The problem with most summer camps is that they are built by a bunch of middle-aged men (I’m allowed to say that because I am one of them), and our customers, for the most part, are 4’1” and under (I am assuming that the average 9-year-old is about that height). How do I know that this is a problem? Two ways: One, in my 15+ years in the summer camp industry, I have sat in on many strategic planning sessions, …


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7 comments on “Who Did We Build It For?

  1. Dan Zenkel on said:

    Great article. I’d love to hear some other examples aside from just adjustable basketball hoops and cabins with bathrooms.

  2. Gary Forster on said:

    Architects can be part of the problem (I can say that because I spent 5 years in school to become one.) Dave’s most important concept: We need to talk less and listen more. I was just at a camp planning session with an architect who actually said, I kid you not, “We are not going to let our customers define our aesthetics.”

  3. Keith Hadigate on said:

    Good article.
    I agree, “One size does not fit all.”
    In planning our programmes, how often do we take into account age and gender characteristics. We need to taylor our programmes, our activities, even many of our facilities to be age and gender appropriate.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Zack Smith on said:

    Enjoyed the article Dave.

  5. Great timing for me on this article! I have a meeting on the 19th to discuss the development of some property we have. Guess who is not on the committee? No youth or teens…might have to work on that part!

  6. James Davis on said:

    Nice article! Couldn’t agree more. Out of curiosity, where do you get your data on retention rates for various aged campers? I’m currently constructing a tool to help camps figure out how to monetize their retention rates and haven’t come across any tangible studies on those numbers. Thanks!

  7. dave bell on said:

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for all the great comments! My perspective on how a camp is designed is based on two things: 1. Gary Forster who made me look at everything differently at camp (http://garyforster.com) and Ideo (http://ideo.com), the design company, who does extensive research in the habits of customers. I think one the best things we can do is observe the habits of our customers to see where our gaps might be in how we design facilities and programs. Thanks again for the feedback!

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