I’ve spoken about our experiences at Dry Gulch USA earlier this week, and I hope you’ll take the time to visit that post and see my thoughts on what is really a stellar Summer Camp. In this post I would like to share many of my Summer Camp secrets from many years of leading kids and volunteers to Summer Camp.
- Google Voice -> This is a great tool for Summer Camp. You can setup one local number that will ring through to as many numbers as you want. It’s a cool way to avoid giving out 10 emergency numbers, and at the same time have 10 different people on your emergency contact list.
- Directions -> I always give parents the physical location of where we will be. Even though I know that parents will most likely not be making the 9 hour drive to our Summer Camp destination, it comforts them when I show them on a map where we will be with their children all week.
- Online Updates -> I’m not sure how I ever avoided doing this in the past, but for the past few years I’ve posted nightly updates of our days activities and photos. I avoid video’s because they take too long, and when I talk to parents they dont’ want the videos; they want to see their kids! So I update about 100-150 pictures each night, with minimal editing, and then throw them into a Picasa slideshow that I embed on our Parents Blog.
- Facebook -> I also make all our camp adult sponsors administrators on our Facebook Page, and ask that they periodically update the page with pictures and updates.
- Make it Personal -> I send occasional individual image text of kids to their parents, thanking them for allowing us to spend a week with their kids. This year, I posted a ton of individual images on parents Facebook pages thanking them for sending their kids, and bragging on what great kids they have.
- Parents Blog -> I put all these updates on our normal church Parent’s Blog, so that after camp I still have 50+ families familiar with the online presence. I encourage email subscriptions to the blog, and this helps us add to our list for the rest of the year.
- Do What I Say I’ll Do -> The policies on our camp packet are things we actually enforce. If you register for camp with us, you will have paid 100% of your money and turned in 100% of your paperwork weeks prior to us leaving. If I have a parent that will not return phone calls, won’t pay in full, or refuses to take ownership of meeting our deadlines; then I drop that kid from our camp roster.
- Leave When I Say I’ll Leave -> If the bus pulls out at 8:00am, and I’ve told parents for weeks that it leaves at 8:00am…then we leave at 8:00am. This year we actually left two kids that didn’t wake up in time. Their mother drove them the 9 hours and met us within an hour of arriving at camp. Amazingly, the mother wasn’t upset me. She knew I’d keep my word, and I did.
- Much, Much, Much More -> I have many more little things I do each year, but for the sake of time and words…I’ll end here! For more then take me to lunch sometime, and buy me a hamburger and I’ll share more!