Opening My Own Camp

More Misadventures in Camping

Written by Patti

Ok, so, you may remember me mentioning back in this post that I would be doing some rental events at the camp I’ve partnered with. (If not, it’s totally worth pausing for a minute and reading that post… the level of excitement will totally set the tone for the hilarity and nonsense that’s about to ensue with this post!)

Well, it finally happened, last weekend I had my first rental group at camp.

I scheduled it a few months ago, and I was SO EXCITED!
The rental group was made up of a newly formed local outdoor network of recreation professionals.
What a perfect group to show off my new rental program, and hopefully get some future bookings out of it!

The Program

They asked me to take on a bigger role with the planning and organizing of the event, so I worked with their (truly wonderful) planning committee to send out info, schedule workshops, etc. I even ended up facilitating a workshop on  disability inclusion in the outdoors, and as part of my agreement with them I ran some adult friendly ice breakers.
And then, because a good camp person is always prepared with a back up plan, I ended up running my asset development workshop when we had an unexpected gap to fill after another session was shorter than expected, and some of the participants even mentioned that they might like me to present it to their community group (that workshop is available for free if you sign up for my newsletter… *blink blink*).

The programming went off without a hitch, overall I’d say THAT PART of the rental was a huge success…

But the facilities… oy vey!!

Someone signing in at the registration table for the event.

The Facilities

So I arrived mid morning, to tidy up, move tables, ya know, all the things you do before a group comes in, the rest of the planning committee would be arriving mid afternoon and the participants would start arriving at around 4pm.

There were a bunch of vehicles over by the cabins, so I made my way to cabin 2 and was greeted with a bathroom totally torn apart and what was essentially a construction zone. After a brief chat, I was assured that they’d be done working and everything would be cleaned up by 4pm when the folks started to arrive.

They went in to repair a shower that had been damaged and one thing led to another, and … construction zone happened!

So I made my way to cabin 1, where it, too, looked like a tool box had thrown up all over it.
I checked the water, hot and cold, good. And cleaned up the tools, placed them back in the toolbox and tucked it all away in a corner. I cleaned the bathrooms, took out any garbage I found and asked them if they were going to move the toilet that was currently on the deck, they said they would. (spoiler: they did not. In fact a water tank appeared on a different deck.)

I made my way to cabin 3, where they had moved on to, there was a ladder in the middle of the foyer and some other equipment lying around, I told them I was just going to tidy up around them, and they said ‘don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it’. So I said okaaaay and figured I’d at least clean out the bathrooms, there was no water. So I decided I’d run back in closer to 4 when they were finished working.

This was Cabin 1 before I cleaned it up. Could be worse, but not exactly the impression I want to give visitors.

The Cook

The cook arrived, she was a sweetheart, I showed her to the kitchen to get started prepping for dinner, and found water ALL OVER the floor! The dishwasher was leaking, bad.
So I ran to get someone, and he told me that one of the lines was just hooked up wrong. He very kindly shopvaced and mopped the floor while the cook got settled.

Then he turned on the dishwasher again.
A few minutes later I had to run and grab them again, because there was water all over the floor AGAIN.
So I suggested we forget the dishwasher and use the three sink method, but newp, they wanted to deal with it right away cause they’d have to deal with it eventually anyway (I mean, who can blame them, it makes sense).

So the dishwasher repair man showed up weirdly fast and he had the dishwasher pulled out and pulled apart while I finished shopvacing and mopping and the poor cook tried to prep for chilli.

I won’t even mention the whole oven, burners, lighting fiasco. But it was all very dramatic, and I just kept turning to the cook and saying “I’m so sorry!”.

Ok, so this wasn’t actually a meal from the weekend, because I forgot to take any pics of the kitchen or the food, but the food was great. And this was lunch I recently made. lol

Back to the Cabins

So, all of this was going on, I was running around trying (not to slip on the tons of ice) to get ready for the group, the rest of the planning committee had arrived and we were setting up, etc. I had checked in with the men working in the cabins a few times (I think I was bugging them) and they were still confident they’d be finished and out by 4.

4pm rolls around and I went to check on them in cabin 2, let them know people were arriving and I was going to try to consolidate the groups into just cabins 1 & 3 so not to worry about 2, but asked if they could have cabin 3 ready to go cause I’d like for people to be able to put their stuff in.
(Side note: the cabins actually all have names, faith, hope and charity, but for the sake of this story I figured it would be easier to call them 1, 2, & 3.)

So, they make their way into cabin 3 to turn on the water, and discover a whole world of problems, including leaking tanks. It took two trips into town and them working in there until 9pm to determine that there was no way to get hot water in the cabin that night.
I said, “ok well, it’s not (even close to) ideal, but as long as there’s hot water in cabin 1, we can create some sort of shower schedule or something”, then I had the good sense to go check on cabin 1 one last time before they left. There was no hot water…. sigh. (remember it had been on in cabin 1 earlier in the day? I don’t know why it went away.)

They spent another half an hour in there and then determined that there would be no water in cabin 1 either.

They apologized and after a very long day, made their way home (they didn’t end up getting home until after 11 because they had to drop someone off first).

Water was the theme of this weekend, not enough in some places, too much in others!

The Next Day

I was heading into the dining hall as the cook was arriving for the day, I slipped into the bathroom while she was getting started in the kitchen when I heard a loud WOOSH sound and her yelling.
I ran out of the bathroom and she was saying “it’s the propane, it’s the propane” so the two of us stood out on the step while I called the chair of the board… at 6am… knowing that he hadn’t gotten home till well after 11 the night before.
He told me it was ok, that the pilot must have gone out and I could relight it (older propane stoves really freak me out – because I’m afraid they’ll blow me up!!) so I said “If I blow up, I’m going to be REALLY mad at you!”.

Then I proceeded to relight the pilot while simultaneously hiding in a doorway next to the stove so I could duck out-of-the-way if a fireball came roaring out at me (you guys, it’s a legitimate fear).

All went well, breakfast and lunch went off without a hitch.

Later in the afternoon I was taking a snack over to some of the participants and their kiddos in a different building when I suddenly heard a very loud alarm going off. I passed the pitcher and snack to the person nearest me and went running to the source of the noise. I got inside and someone said they accidentally set off the emergency medical assistance alarm. So I called the poor board chair AGAIN to get the code and while I was on the phone with him someone ran to get me because the security company was on the phone. LOL

Gong. Show.

Although, after that, everything went great.

See all the ice around the campfire? Thank goodness my husband brought me salt, or else s’more making would have been a danger zone!

The Fallout

  • Friday night I let all of the participants know that they wouldn’t have hot water in the cabins, and couldn’t shower for the next day and a half. They weren’t thrilled, but were very understanding and kind about it.
    The good news was that the weekend was very laid-back and flexible and people were coming and going quite a bit as it was, so a few people were able to zip home in the mornings if showering was important to them.

 

  • I spoke with the group organizer and offered a deep discount on this rental AND his next one (I would have offered him a full refund, but it’s so new that I don’t have a lot in the ‘pot’ and I had to cover my expenses – like paying the cook, etc.) and he was SUPER understanding and assured me that he would rent from me for this event next year and that he was pleased to know he’d have a discount and I assured HIM that there would be hot water next year!

 

  • I apologized to the presenter whose workshop was interrupted because of the alarm noise (more of a mild distraction to be honest, cause the buildings are surprisingly quite sound proof).

 

  • The chair of the board called me Saturday evening to apologize for the problems with the facilities and let me know that he understood what a big deal this weekend was for my new little business – and that they would be waiving the fee that I would normally owe them. That apology meant the world to me. It was so important that he knew how the facility issues could potentially affect my (and their) reputation as a rental facility.

 

  • I had a chance to apologize to HIM for calling him a million times, and to thank him for trying so hard to fix the water situation.

 

  • My husband brought backup salt and a shovel, so I spent some time de-icing everything.

 

  • The cook told me she had a lot of fun and would love for me to call her for any future rentals.

 

  • I asked the participants to give some VERY constructive feedback about the facilities on their event evaluation form, because I think it’s important that the impact is in writing in case anyone is in question about the effect the water situation had (could have if it happened again).

 

  • The toilet and water tank remained on the decks… I decided to choose my battles, and just called them modern art… 

This was the ice and (super hard) snow built up around the step of a cabin, not the most accessible. Thank goodness for that shovel and salt!

On the Bright Side

  • All of the water/ facility stuff will be sorted out by the time I run my next rental.

 

  • I now know to check on facilities a few days in advance and potentially send reminders about water being on, etc.

 

  • I now know the code for the alarm system.

 

  • I still don’t want to deal with the propane stove, but I know I can do it hiding in a doorway if I need to.

 

  • I have a cook for future rentals.

 

  • I got the first one out-of-the-way, and chances are, next time will be smoother (fingers crossed!)

 

  • I already know the group is interested in renting again next year.

 

  • My business has officially received my first payment!! Woo!

 

  • I made some great connections.

 

  • I got some lovely feedback about my workshops and potential to do more.

 

  • I got to plan and execute the event with some really hard-working, amazing people.

 

  • The chair of the board didn’t tell me to take a hike after all the pestering and phone calls, he’s a patient man and I really like working with him.

 

The growing pains hurt a little bit, but I’ve had worse days at camp so while I was pretty bummed out about the situation, I never felt panicked.

So overall, it could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. I chalked it up to a mild success. LOL

AND because I’m someone who can’t deal with any kind of success, (I’m working on it) find out what I did next, in next week’s post.

What’s been your biggest facility nightmare? Tell me about it in the comment section below!
And don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for your free Developmental Assets workshop.

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4 Comments

  • I have to admit that I have been wondering about what happened since I saw your FB post 🙂 I do a day camp now but I do remember in my last job when I would need to pitch in on weekend camps and the chaos that would happen. Glad you made it through and now you can at least say, ” well at least the water is working!”

    • Thanks for thinking of me Caroline!!
      It means so much that you were invested in my story, thank you for commenting!!!
      I was planning on posting about it last week, and if you check out next weeks post you’ll find out why I didn’t. 😉
      And you’re absolutely right, at least the water is working!!! haha

  • Oh boy! That sounds like a doozie of a weekend facility wise. One time, this past summer, sewage lines broke under our dining hall where we couldn’t easily reach them on camper pick up day.

    • Ohhhh noooo!!!!
      That sounds like nightmare material!!!
      Smelly AND expensive! What a combo. 🙁
      Did you get it all sorted out (before the next group arrived)? Did you have to tear up all the ground around the building? Did it cost a bazillion dollars?
      I have so many questions!!! hahaha

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