Thanks Jason for updating my blog, as I had forgotten to before I left!
The past few days, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a Residential Camp Tour. Each year, the New York American Camping Association (ACA) organizes a tour of overnight camps (similar to ours). Over 40 camp directors were present for a 2-day, 6-camp tour in the Berkshires, up in Massachusetts.
So, on Monday night I headed out for a long drive up to this beautiful part of the country. Tuesday, we toured three great residential camps. Each camp had its own unique character to it. The camps in the Berkshires generally are single-sex (boys or girls camp, not co-ed like ours) and typically are built on a portion of large public lakes. I admit, they are bigger than Lake Lenape, however they are public and that means they have neighbors who also use the lake for boating and can possibly gain access to the camp that way. Clearly, we would rather have our own private lake, than be on a public lake!
It is so valuable to spend 2 straight days walking around other camps. Besides the very necessary exercise that it provided to me (after eating here at Canadensis for 5.5 months with a baker!), it’s really neat to see what other camps are doing. See what they are building new, see what programs they are putting their resources into, get new ideas for programs, etc. One thing I noticed is that nobody has our glass fusion program and in fact their arts centers are typically smaller without a center courtyard/wraparound porch! However, I don’t want this post to be about knocking other camps, because they were each beautiful in their own special ways.
The truth is, all camps are in the same industry and so in reality we all support each other. We each find our niche and attract campers for different reasons, but the important thing is that we are all running safe, fun programs and that more and more families see the benefits that the camping industry can provide to kids. Some of the camps I visited had a few less campers this summer due to the economy, while some saw growth based on changes they made (ie- new buildings, becoming a 2 session camp instead of just offering a 7-week session, etc.)
Further, it was refreshing to talk with other camp directors and owners who went through very similar challenges to us this past summer. Be it the rain, or the threat of swine flu for example, we all collaborated on what we did right and perhaps what we could have done better in hindsight. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with many well-known camp directors/owners and hear their take on Summer 2009 and even more importantly, what they are doing to prepare for an even better Summer 2010!
On a personal note, I am headed home from camp today to be with my family and spend the first 2 days of Rosh Hashanah. On my way home, I will be picking up Robin from the airport, as she is headed up north! Sunday, I will be returning to camp and on Monday we say goodbye to our wonderful postcamp staff/remaining kitchen staff and finally, on Tuesday, I HEAD BACK TO CIVILIZATION! That’s right- on Tuesday I move back to my condo in Philly, which I haven’t seen in about 6 months. I get to sleep late, cook my own meals- oh wait, that means I also have to wash the dishes! Actually, I also don’t get to sleep late, because on Wednesday, I will begin working from our brand-new office in Plymouth Meeting. But, don’t feel bad for me, because then it’s a week in Florida after that. So, alot of traveling as usual the next few weeks.
Stay tuned for a postcamp Winter Edition of Canadensis Today as we officially say goodbye to Summer 2009 with our remaining staff members.
L’shanah Tovah to all of our camp families and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.