The 3 Needs: Safety, Value, Enjoyment

Every person you come across as camp staff will have different needs and expectations.  You will never be in a position to provide for all of those needs, but there are 3 needs basic to everyone that you should always strive to provide to the people among whom you work.

Safety:  Anyone who enters your campsite, or does any sort of work for your camp, has the desire emotional and physical safety.  They will only come to, and return to, your organization if they feel safe.  This means that your role is to try to understand the needs of your clients, staff, and volunteers, and push them only slightly out of their comfort zones.  Asking a shy volunteer to run an activity, for example, is not likely to make that volunteer feel emotionally secure.  Having a beach without lifeguards is unlikely to comfort parents.  Forcing campers to speak in front of everyone is a bad choice.  Think carefully about how you can keep everyone feeling as safe as possible.

Value:  People want to feel like the what they do and who they are matters.  This means they need to understand the vision for the organization as well as see where they fit into that vision.  They want to know people have taken time on them and appreciate them.  In addition, volunteers and staff need to feel as if others appreciate their work.  Consider what you and other staff members can do to make everyone feel more valued.  Do you write thank you notes on occasion?  Have a yearly banquet? Plan the best activities possible for your campers?  Invite volunteers to some staff outings? Reply to parents promptly? Anything you can do to remind people of their value to you and your organization will keep them coming back.

Enjoyment:  It’s quite simple, people need to like what they are doing.  It doesn’t necessarily need to fit into the category of  ’fun’, but people do need to enjoy themselves.  Your campers want to have a good time, your staff want to be excited for work, and parents want to feel good when they are on your campsite.    It is vital that you consider the how much people are going to enjoy their time with your organization; the more they enjoy it, the more likely they are to return.

It isn’t until after these 3 needs are consistently met that campsites should begin focusing in other areas.

Updated: Registration Software

The previous Registration Software post was very popular, and resulted in some additional great options being sent my way.  So I’ve updated the previous article to include these additions.  Hopefully, you will find an option that suits your needs.  Once again, shoot an e-mail to forthecampwhisperer@gmail.com if you would like more information or assistance.

One of the most difficult parts is simply finding which registration software is even designed with YOUR campsite in mind.  Every camp is unique, and requires unique data management  capabilities.

Because of this problem, this article will include a brief list of some of the more common registration software companies used within the camping industry.  A brief summary of the product, and a brief review, will also be included.  The information given is by no means complete, but hopefully it will give you a good starting place when seeking the best program for your camp.

CircuiTree Solutions:  We’re starting with this software group because they had GREAT customer service, which is definitely one of the most important pieces of any database software.   They are also a software company that is a little less known, but provide some pretty remarkable services.

CircuiTree strives to be the most comprehensive and reliable camp management system on the market, and does a pretty good job staying near the top.  They have solutions for online and internal registration, merchandise sales (online and on campus), lodging and facility rental, conference centers, donations, medical/incident tracking, accounting, and many more options (though you can use as many or as few of these options as you would like). CT integrates overnight camps, day camps, family camps, conferences, and donor information in one place.  With CircuiTree, it’s easy to track interactions with attendees, families, and donors, as well as see the history they have with your organization.

Their comprehensive options are also web-based, meaning you can access your information from anywhere.

Visit them online at www.circuitreesolutions.com.

Active Network:  This management company is the largest of all the options. They were recommended as a good option by a reader, and after some initial research, it is pretty easy to understand why. They’ve been in business for 12 years, have over 3000 employees, deal with over 80 million registrations a year, and have 53 different levels of ‘solutions’ for your management needs.  Have summer camps, and conferences, and wilderness retreats, and 3 sites, and who knows what else?  This is your company.  Basically, whatever you need, they can probably handle.  And, with 300o employees with diverse skill sets, they’ll have someone who is equipped to handle it.

Active Network also has great customer service.  I simply filled in a form requesting information on their website (which was easy to navigate, information-filled, and well-designed) and received a personal phone call from one of their very knowledgeable employees.  Not just some new hire who barely knew how the software functioned, but someone who really understood it.  Even after he found out I had no intention to utilize Active Network personally, he made sure I had a clear understanding of the strengths of the company and how they operated.

They are also Cloud-based and mobile friendly.  Cloud-based means that camp staff are able to access the database anywhere they can get internet access.  And you don’t need to worry about database security, because Active Network is PCI, COPPA, and HIPAA certified.

Lastly, costs are ‘per registration’.  Meaning a camp with  a total of 100 campers overall will be charged the same amount per camper as the camp with 10,000 summer campers.  This might not be as huge of a break for larger camps, but is a dream come true for small campsites.

Visit them online at www.activenetwork.com.

Campminder: This software management tool appears to be one of the most popular, and has provided the most positive feedback across the industry.  They also have great customer service, and a very strong social media presence.  Their diverse offerings include web-based functions , healthcare, communication, alumni, registration, scheduling, and online forms.  Campminder’s greatest strength lies in the fact that they strive to be more than a software company.  They seek to incorporate all the data needs of campsites, and operate as a business methodology.  They really do work with campsites to streamline processes and reach maximum efficiency.  Campminder is generally a bit too expensive for really small campsites to justify, but is especially helpful for multi-site camping organizations.

Visit them online at www.campminder.com.

Camp Brain: Camp Brain is another name that consistently comes up as a great software tool in the camping industry.  They very recently rolled out their newest version, which utilizes web-based software so you can access your system from anywhere.  This software is one of the easiest to understand, maneuver, and operate.  They offer three separate software functions–camp software, conference software, and donor software– as well as online forms.  They have a few less offerings than CircuiTree Solutions or Camp Minder, but still have great customer service and are a good option for mid-sized campsites.

Visit them online at www.campbrain.com.

Bunk 1: This software tool is primarily focused on registration, so is a good option if you are looking for something more basic.  They offer online registration, camper scheduling, and inventory management for your camp store.  They also have integrated social media offerings, which can be invaluable during the summer.

Visit them online at www.bunk1rollcall.com.

Campwise: This management is a bit of a mystery.  According to their website they offer a fairly comprehensive list of services, including online payments, staff applications, registration, donor information, consolidated mailing lists, and much more.  They do not, however, have a strong social media presence and very little conversation/feedback is available regarding their services.  Based on the limited information and interaction, this software company doesn’t make the top of the list as far as software options, but is still a company to consider if you are looking for a new management model.

Visit them online at www.campwise.com.

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