Apr 15, 2008, 9:50 AM
Post #1 of 1
Spring, and Major League Baseball has begun in earnest.
Spring Training for Summer Camp
The old baseball adage is that the results in the season’s beginning count as much as those at the end, although they may not seem so dramatic.
Baseball teams that get off to a fast start often set a precedence for a great season. Teams that begin with a lot of losses find themselves on shaky ground, in the eyes of fans and other teams. Though they may return to winning form, it's tough to shake off a difficult start.
In that way, summer camp is like MLB. A choppy start never impresses campers, and may result in miserable e-mails and letters to parents. Perhaps it's unfair, because a summer camp that gets off to a rough start can get back on track and have a great season. But, camps that provide a stable and secure setting — plus a fun and social environment — from opening to closing day — will be in the best position to maintain a high level of repeat campers.
All seasoned camp directors and owners attest to the importance of a quick start to the camping season; no room for sluggishness.
But a quick start doesn't just happen on opening day. Like MLB, it is tied into solid spring training and work throughout the year. The running joke in the summer camp industry is the perception that summer camp operators only work two months of the year, and are on vacation for the other 10. The truth is that summer camp is a year-round job.
Putting boats in dry dock, storing away equipment, and patching up major property damage is a high priority before winter sets in.
Camps have to be inspected and repaired when cold weather sets in, especially after the long, heavy winter of 2007/2008. Sunbelt camps often find themselves in a state of perpetual upkeep if they choose to remain open year round for retreat groups. Even northerly camps can remain open in autumn and re-open in spring for the two months - May, June - before summer camp officially begins. Many camp owners report that a prolonged camp season produces extra income that can be utilized to supplement and improve the traditional summer term.
But for traditional two-month summer camps, readiness is all. This maxim is especially true in hiring summer staff through a detailed interview process, coupled with background checks. Accredited online check-ups into potential criminal backgrounds guard summer camp operators against basic liability claims involving incoming staff.
Naturally, motivation and prior education is the best way to insure that staff provides children with the best possible care. In fact, many regional camping organizations routinely offer spring training days and leadership sessions to students who have been hired on as counselors and section heads.
Summer staff set the tone for a fast start for the camping season. They are the primary motivators for children and teens. As summer camp professionals, they are front line intermediaries between campers and administrators.
Like Major League Baseball, fans root for the players and relegate ownership towards the background. Many administrators are hands-on and participate in camp events, but logistics dictate that summer staff will often shine in their stead, mostly for the fun of it, and the work experience.
Read, set, and go — summer 2008 is on the way. Time for a quick start out of the blocks.
Stephen Winbaum is the Communications Coordinator of MySummerCamps.com.
(This post was edited by stephenwinbaum on Jun 3, 2008, 10:00 AM)