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Opening My Own Camp

August Update

Written by Patti

What an exciting couple of months it’s been!!!

Here’s a little update about what’s been going on:

Patchwork Marketplace

Curt and I are so excited that people have continued to use Patchwork during the summer months. We expected tumbleweeds to be blowing through but it seems that people are always looking for high quality, low-cost resources even at the last minute which is just fine with us! We’re starting to shift gears now and focus on the community rec folks, cause we know after school programs will be starting up soon and people will be looking for resources for those programs too.

Patchwork Marketplace

We’re also working on creating a package for new authors, to provide a roadmap for creating resources. Hopefully this will help take any guess-work out of how to become a Patchwork author and make people feel more confident about putting their work out there.

If you have any suggestions on what should be included, hit me up. As you know I LOVE brainstorming, collaboration, and suggestions.

We have some other projects in the works that we’re not ready to talk about yet, but should be interesting. (And at least one of them is mildly terrifying for me, but that’s ok, I’m all about facing my fears… except zombies, I never want to face zombies.) I’ll update you guys more in a few months when I can say more.

Other Projects/ Volunteering

 

Residential Camp

So I mentioned here that I’d be helping out with a local faith-based camp this summer in return for the use of their facility next season when I open my own program.

It was awesome!  And challenging. And hilarious.

We were short-staffed (short volunteered?) so I ended up wearing three hats instead of the two I was expecting. I was directing, so managing parent concerns, supporting/ coaching counsellors and campers, dealing with behaviour stuff, entertaining visitors, checking in with the support staff, all the usual things a director does, as well as acting as the programmer, I had done pretty much all of the prep work before camp, so it wasn’t too bad, but I was running around setting up programs, leading activities, facilitating workshops, managing the schedule, all of the things a programmer does.
And I was working in a cabin as a counsellor too… doing all the things a counsellor does – which as we all know, is pretty much everything!

So needless to say, it was a pretty busy week.

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Some canoeing lessons at res camp.

Some things that went great:

My former colleague Donna told me about a post she saw on the Summer Camp Pros Face Book group (I’m pretty sure that’s where she heard about it) about a 24 hour check in, where the leader calls each parent or guardian 24 hours after the campers have arrived to let them know how the first night went. (I wish I knew who the original poster was – I can’t find it, if any of you know, please tell me their name so I can give them credit for a great idea!)

I tried it out, and it was a great success. The parents really appreciated it (I told them at check-in that I’d be calling the next day). I gave each of them an update on their camper(s) then asked if they wanted me to call back again or if they were happy to chat again on Friday at pick up. Only one family asked that I check back in again the next day.

Although it was busy, being in a cabin again was SO FUN. I got to braid hair, have special moments during tuck-in and wake up, get up 27 times during the night to help campers who couldn’t sleep… (ok, that part was a little less fun, but it was ok. lol)

Some things that were challenging:

Trying to wear all three hats at once, especially when I couldn’t delegate any of the tasks – or if I had to delegate a task that I REALLY should have been doing myself. Everything got done and the campers couldn’t tell that there was any chaos… but…

If it had been longer than one session, it wouldn’t  have been sustainable. I was completely exhausted and I wouldn’t have been able to do a good job in any of the roles if I had continued on that way. BUT it was only for one session, so we got through it, and the campers had a blast!!

 

Day Camp

So, a few months ago I met two women who were planning on running an educational summer day camp. They were lovely, their program sounded great, so when they asked me if I’d like to be involved, of course I said, “YES, please!”

So I met with them once a week for a month or two during the preparation stage, and now I’m working with them at the day camp.

Do you know what the best part has been? I’m not the director. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a camp director, dealing with all of the highs and lows, planning, strategizing, problem solving – I thrive on that… but…

It’s been really nice to kind of sit back and relax a little bit. To get to spend lots of time with the kiddos and not have to worry about anything else but who needs help with their sunscreen or whatever we’re doing in that moment.
And it’s exactly what I needed.
It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s a great way to spend my ‘summer off’ before I really get into the business of running operating OWNING a camp.

volcano

We built and erupted some volcanos at day camp.

I have to say, without exaggeration, it’s one of the best programs I’ve ever participated in. I wouldn’t be able to sit back and relax if it wasn’t so well run… because like any other camp pro, I’d jump in to make it better, manage risk, enhance camper experience, and keep us all safe. But I don’t have to do any of that, because the founder and camp director are wonderful and they’ve got everything under control. And the program! Whew!
It’s the perfect mix of educational and fun, there’s a great flow to it, it’s flexible enough that we can incorporate the campers interests and everything is running pretty much on time!

Every so often, I throw in my two cents for alternative ways of doing something – and they’re super open to suggestions. But I’m trying REALLY hard not to do that much, because I don’t need to. And just because something’s been done one way in the past, doesn’t mean everyone needs to do it that way every time.
So I’m sitting back, learning from them, helping where I can, and having a blast. 

 

New Camp

This is probably the most exciting part of my update (for me, at least! You guys can let me know what you think down below, haha).

The Business Plan

I finished* my business plan.
*OK, I actually didn’t finish it… but I have enough of it done that I was able to bring it to an important meeting (read about it below!)
As far as I’m concerned it’s a working document so it will never truly be “finished” but right now, I’m still waiting on some important information – like how much the rental fee will be for the facility (which is kind of a huge deal) – but I won’t know that until my meeting with the board (of the facility I’m using) in September.
So, it’s as finished as it will be for now – and it’s a huge relief to have it off of my to-do list, and a huge help as a jumping off point for further planning.

Is learning about what I included in my business plan something you’d be interested in? Let me know and I’ll share some more info.

laptop

The Meeting

My former colleague, Rebecca (actually a former camper turned colleague!!) was telling me about the work she’s doing with social enterprise. We decided that my camp totally fit into the social enterprise category, so she set up some meetings (which were not stressful at all!!! ha!) with her colleagues and I’ve just signed an incubator agreement with them to help get my business off the ground and running.

I’m SO excited about this. Because, as I’ve said all along, I know how to run a camp – I’m pretty comfortable with the business of RUNNING a camp, and I’m very comfortable with the program side of it.
What I don’t know a lot about is STARTING a camp. There’s a huge difference between running or growing a program that is already operating and essentially starting one from scratch. So they’ll help me make sure my t’s are crossed and my i’s are dotted. And I’m PSYCHED to work with Rebecca and learn from her!

Here’s the link to their website. 
I’m seriously so excited to be working with them.

That’s it for my August update, it’s be a busy, hectic, wonderful summer and I know things are just going to get busier and more interesting as we move into the autumn.

 

I’d love to hear how your summer has been!
What were your most exciting/ proud moments? What are you most excited about for fall? Tell me all about it in the comment section below.

 

 

 

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