The other day I was reading about an impressive Kickstarter which created a robot that 3D-prints edible pizza. Though I have zero experience in the field, it was interesting enough to make me want to know more. How does it work? How long did it take? Most importantly, when could I buy one?
Unfortunately, the product won’t be hitting the open market until 2017, and with my busy schedule, my weekends leave little time for side research into robotics. It occurred to me though, there’s probably a camp for it. Curious (and maybe a little bit jealous), I dug around and realized there’s a camp for nearly every interest, readily offering campers what so many adults strive for today – opportunity.
At camp, there is a unique freedom to explore choice topics in a supportive, knowledgeable environment. It can be something the camper has a passion for or simply something that caught their attention. Outside of these bubbles, it’s rare to see such diversity without going to considerable lengths to find it. Dance, architecture, music, the list goes on, with day camps and summer intensives to satisfy any level of ability.
Of course, with all this excitement in one place, a significant burden falls on the instructors and counselors to channel that energy. It should be encouraged to grow in a welcoming, judgment-free setting. No should be afraid to make mistakes, and trial and error should be encouraged as a productive, useful strategy. Especially in a place where many campers are trying something for the first time, enthusiasm is necessary on the part of the instructor to keep them engaged and wanting to learn more.
With the plethora of camp options now available, the challenge is not to appeal to everyone, as that is clearly impossible. Rather, directors should be aware of their camps strengths, and use them appropriately to appeal to a sense of discovery and adventure in its campers. I may not have the time to tinker with robots, but they do, and this freedom should be cherished and nurtured in the engineers, thinkers, and pioneers of tomorrow.
It seems everyone is online these days.
Millennials spend 21.3 hours a week on internet-enabled devices (PCs, tablets, and smartphones). Millions more seniors get online each year. Americans spend 11 hours a day, on average, with electronic devices. Almost 70% of people get their news online. Over 50% bank that way.
The same platform which allows your sister to share pictures of her cat with the world also allows you to connect with your customers 24/7.
This begs the question: if we spend so much time online, are print ads still relevant?
Although your potential customers are online much of the time, print can be a more effective manner of reaching them. This is not to say, however, that digital advertising is not effective. It is. But studies show that people focus differently when looking at a screen instead of paper, making these media forms work very distinctly. Digital advertising is good when you want to create immediate purchase decisions or have information easily accessible. Print advertising is good when you want people to focus.
On digital devices, multiple items command your attention. To use the Forbes homepage as an example, there are seven: two menus, a search bar, a set of social buttons, a banner ad, a list of articles, and a photograph. That’s a tame example. With so many elements simultaneously seeking your attention, it's nigh impossible to focus all your attention on one.
Although getting your print ads in front of the right people may be more difficult, these advertisements are more effective once there. According to the Center for Media Research, a full-page print ad has 83% the value of a 30-second television commercial. In contrast, the typical internet banner ad has only 16% the value of that same commercial.
Another reason to use print advertising? It has the highest ROI of all major media. It is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to reach consumers.
Now that you know print media is effective, what will your course of action be?
The first step is to determine your audience. If you run an independent soccer camp, for instance, you’re probably targeting players, parents, and coaches.
Next, determine the best way to reach this audience. Be convenient for them to access. If your audience frequents a certain location, leave materials there. If they have previously opted to give you their mailing information, send them a postcard. Make it easy for them.
Finally, create your content. There are three primary rules for print ad content: be simple, be commanding, and be interesting. If your material is too busy, your potential customers will throw it out. If it doesn’t contain a call-to-action or a means to gather more information, they’ll forget about it. If it’s boring, they won’t care.
In our digital age, people’s attention is constantly divided. Use print advertising, along with digital media, to create a diverse presence through which to reach your customers.
It’s sweet. It can be relatively plain or ridiculously quirky. There are options for everyone, regardless of their tastes. Parents love to say “yes” when kids beg for it. You can mix and match for limitless combinations!
What is it? Ice cream.
With tens of thousands of camps to choose from, there are options for everyone. While you can never go wrong with ice cream (or camp), everyone has their favorites. To make the decision easier, we’ve put together a little flavor guide.
Ah…a classic. How can you not like vanilla? It’s reliable and refreshing on hot summer days. While people have been making vanilla ice cream forever, there are still ways to be different. Will you go for vanilla bean? Double-churned? French vanilla? Soft serve? Like traditional outdoor camps, there are a myriad of twists on this classic. Get creative!
Yes, it has a vanilla base. No, that’s not why you get it. Moose Tracks is all about the extras: those fun little details that, when added to a traditional base, make a big impact! Ice cream makers take the traditional recipe and refocus it like directors of academic and athletic camps do.
Have you ever heard of this flavor? Probably not. Try it, and your taste buds will be greeted with a sweet and refreshing ice cream that tastes a surprising amount like Froot Loops. It’s worth the search for a quirky flavor. In the camp world, the search is even more worth it. There are hundreds of quirky options from Firefighter Camp and Doctor Who Camp, to Circus Camp and Hollywood Stunt Camp, or Spy Camp and Space Camp!
Wine Ice Cream
And some flavors are just for adults. Wine ice cream takes a childhood favorite and adds a delicious mature twist! Camp for adults is a rising trend with multiple options available depending on your schedule, location, and preferences. Camp No Counselors adds open bars to the classic camp experience. Camp Bonfire builds custom camp retreats to get you and your friends or coworkers away from the city. Camp Grounded offers throwback camp activities like tie dye and canoeing alongside creative options such as laughter yoga and spoon carving. As an adult, sometimes you need to splurge for your summertime treat.
Go to camp enough times and nearly every camper will pick a favorite counselor. Someone they look forward to seeing every time they show up, and has watched them grow from a confused newbie to a confident veteran. As a director, you can’t be playing favorites, but you can work to build an environment in which everyone feels like they stand out. There are several ways to go about this, but they almost all start with…
Getting to Know Each Other. During orientation or counselor-in-training weeks, you likely interact with your staff several times a day. Using this time to practice names and establish yourself will pay serious dividends later that summer. Maintaining authority is important, but taking the time to go a little deeper shows the counselors you care about them as individuals and not just as employees.
A Consistent Chain of Command. Nothing is more irritating than starting a task, suddenly being switched to another, than being berated for not sticking with the first. Issues like this occur when people in charge do not communicate with each other, which is quickly solved with a chain of command. Making it exceptionally clear who should be contacted when keeps events running smoothly while keeping some degree of independence.
Big Goals/Small Goals. In the average camp week, there are countless small jobs that need your attention. Together, they make up the machinery that keeps everything running smoothly. Acknowledging when these jobs are done well recognizes the people responsible and places them into the larger framework. With everyone on the same page, they can all reach for the same goal: a memorable camp experience.
Letting Go. It can be tempting to check up on your counselors regularly with advice and recommendations. While being present is good, and playing an active role is better, micro-managing is not. There comes a time after training when it is ultimately up to the staff to prove themselves. They’ll likely perform better with their earned freedom, and you can always be there to help and encourage when needed.
The average person spends approximately 9 hours a day at work. For summer camp counselors, that number is substantially higher. With so much time spent at work each day, it can be difficult to remain motivated and excited. In order to keep your staff happy and more productive, you must have a strong organizational culture.
So what is “organizational culture?” Yes, it is one of those phrases people love to throw around when bragging about their office’s hip happy hour, but it’s so much more than that. Simply put, it’s an organization’s personality. This “personality” enables employees to make decisions consistent with the company’s priorities, goals, and mission without needing policies expressly defined. Culture forms in response to written and unwritten rules, as well as habits, values, assumptions, systems, and management styles, all of which have developed over the company’s lifetime.
When a strong culture exists, employees can react to situations appropriately, without wasting time consulting supervisors or rulebooks, because they are appropriately aligned with organizational values. This saves time. That saves money. And all of it makes your organization run more smoothly. When your counselors embody your camp’s values and create a strong community among themselves, campers feel more comfortable and welcome in their environment.
Conversely, when weak culture exists, campers are at a loss. Their primary point of contact with the organization—counselors—must act as a cohesive unit for campers to know what to expect or how to become completely comfortable. With weak culture, camp leadership controls counselors through rules and bureaucracy because no one is properly aligned with organizational values. In return, counselors seek to exert control over campers in the same manner. Instead of a fun and vibrant camp culture, it’s a mess of rules and unclear expectations.
In order to create the best camp environment possible, strong culture is a necessity.
When discussing the growth and development of organizational culture, Mike Lehr of Omega Z Advisors uses these four goals:
Establishing organizational culture is not about following a recipe to create something new. Whether you realize it or not, your organization already has a culture. Identifying what it is and where it stems from (the supervisor’s management style or from communal engagement) can help you better identify and relate with your current culture. At this point, decide whether your next move is to reinforce or change your culture.
If your current culture is appropriate for your organization, congratulations! You’re off to a great start, but you’re not done. Without reinforcement, even the best cultures can become corrupted. There are too many forces, internal (new employees, policy changes, communication errors, etc.) and external (competition, economic shifts, etc.), effecting your organization for its values to remain unchanged. Time invested supporting your organization’s culture will be well spent.
Before you begin changing your organizational culture, know one thing: it takes time. Culture cannot shift overnight. It forms because of everything an organization stands for and has stood for. History takes time to change. Make change apparent, comfortable, and then follow up. Accept feedback but be firm. Be reliable; consistency sells change, proving it legitimate.
When organizations merge, tensions arise. No matter how compatible their cultures may seem, change is uncomfortable especially when combined with the hostility or fear a merger often creates. The combination of two separate cultures will take time but, if handled correctly, will smooth over in time, creating a new culture for a new organization.
Organizational culture drives organizational success. It motivates employees and enables them to complete their jobs in a more passionate and efficient manner. Now that you know about culture, examine your organization’s and make a plan. Will yours thrive?
Camp Network provides online registration, website design, and marketing for camps, clinics, tournaments, and more. We work with some of the biggest universities and organizations in the country because we offer a quick, simple, and an extremely affordable solution. We automate the whole registration process so you and your staff can focus on running the event.