May 10, 2006, 11:39 AM
Post #1 of 1
Nigel Watson, co-director of Independent Lake Camp (ILC) in the Poconos, sympathizes with parents of campers.
Paperless Summer Camp
“They get up at 5:00 am and put on a monkey suit,” — Nigel’s good-humored reference to business suits — “commute downtown, work all day, and get home at 9:00 or 10:00 pm.” He continues: “The last thing that they want to do is fill out a batch of forms from camp.”
To help parents, and kids, ILC plans to be going ‘paperless’ by 2007 – 2008.
Watson, 40, a native New Zealander, is well along the trail to his paperless camp dream. This summer, ILC families and the camp will correspond by mail-outs. The cabinet files and folders will be in phase-out mode by 2007, departed by 2008, and replaced by a secure online database where information is held for retrieval and review.
By 2007, Watson predicts camp parents and children will be able to go on the internet with username and password, fill out all forms, and click the ‘send’ button to ILC. Information from across the continent, and globally, will be uploaded to the camp’s database.
Watson looks forward to the realization of the concept. “We won’t have to buy paper, copy forms, do mail-outs, pay postage, wait for mail-backs, and enter the information into our database. The parents will enter the information and we will just print the reports,” he says. And the best part — “We’ll just have to send out an e-mail saying — ‘Hey, parents, go online and fill out your stuff.’”
Also, the internet will provide ILC with a cleaner, paperless, paper trail. The multiplicity of paper correspondences, transiting from camp to families and back, will decline, as will the piles of left-over paper in need of sorting and re-cycling at season’s end. “The internet and our web-based database cuts down the paper trail,” says Watson.
Here are some of the organizational benefits, according to Watson.
- Bunkmate Request Forms
2. Camper Profiles
- Campers fill out bunk mate request forms – online
- The request forms are sent online to ILC’s secure server
- The program director creates the cabin line-ups from database information
- The program director is freed from manually creating cabin groups but can still 'tweak' the bunks
3. Travel Logistics
- ILC creates profiles of each camper
- favorite activities
- food preferences
- tendency to become homesick
- The camp gauges staffing requirements from campers preferences and needs - (above)
- Camper profiles can remain unchanged or are amended via database entries
The ILC co-director predicts his paperless camp will provide him with the freedom to work from anywhere. Watson is a global traveler who spent ten years trekking and working around the globe: Europe, Asia, and South America – and now lives four months of every year in Florida.
- Children’s arrivals and departures are arranged online by parents and camp
- Mode of transportation is identified online
- Pre-determined pick up and drop off points to be requested online by parents
“I could work from Rio Di Janeiro,” laughs Watson.
“And I’ll be enjoying my Florida home after summer camp, because I’ll be able to access our database from there.” The ILC HQ’s in Philadelphia still will be home base for four months, but the co-director with a travel bug, will be free to indulge his wanderlust — plus work on camp business.
Watson anticipates substantial financial savings when ILC goes completely paperless. Camp promotional DVDs will still be mailed out [although it is available online] – but the predominantly paperless operation will cut postage costs in half; a savings of $12,000 per year.
Watson’s paperless vision is an organizational turnaround for ILC. Since 1994, when ILC got its first computer, it has steadily moved towards a paperless camp. 2006 will be a trial run; half paper, half online database. By 2007, significant paperless stages will be in place; by summer 2008 - the hope is to be totally paperless!
“We’re really excited about it,” says Watson. “It’s new ground for us. We’re elated and ready to move on.”
For more information on developing a paperless camp, link to — Camp Management Software.
Stephen Winbaum is the Communications Coordinator of MySummerCamps.com
(This post was edited by stephenwinbaum on May 24, 2006, 10:24 AM)