Ch. 15-16 Basic Camp Management

Ball and Ball tackle some huge topics in chapter 15 and 16, these being Marketing and Business & Finance. Needless to say, I felt like I had to read them both over again to take in all of the information because it all is so complex, but also very important to the functioning of camp as a whole. What I mean is that, if you don’t market well then no one will come and invest in camp, but likewise, if you aren’t keeping up with the business and finance end of camp then your camp will quickly fall apart under the weight of a complexity of monies, receipts, and bills.

Chapter 15 is all about marketing and Ball and Ball do a good job at tying in marketing with the coming of campers. After all, camp is all about those coming for the camp experience. Part of this is, “ensuring that [the] camp identity is relevant to its target audience”–in other words you have to make camp believable and exciting to those who will be coming (292). These may mean seeking out those potential participants and what their likes, dislikes, etc. Coming up with programs that are new and innovative will help individuals try camp and the keep them coming back. It is said that, “children ages 7 to 17 influence their parents’ decisions concerning leisure activities in 74 percent of families” (Ball and Ball, 293).

Looking at the chapter as a whole a couple key points stood out to me, the first being that you need to know your enrollment. What I mean by this is that, you need to know how many people normally enroll, but also from where you are drawing your participants. If they are coming from a specific region/city, figure out why they are more likely to apply in that region. Ball and Ball says to ask, “what is the current population by age groups, socioeconomic groups, ethnic or racial groups?” (295). Along with that there are multiple tools to use in good marketing, these including,

  • Returning Campers (word of mouth)
  • Camper Reunions
  • Fun Weekends at Camp
  • Home Parties
  • Personal Calls
  • Individualized Responses to E-mail Requests
  • Camp Representatives
  • Visits to the Camp
  • Brochures or Flyers
  • Incentives
  • (Ball and Ball, 301-304).

Chapter 16, then, deals with the business and finance end of things at a camp. This was a big chapter, which unfortunately was hard for me to understand with little mathematical or business background. I can see how I would benefit from greater learning in these areas, however, even with that Ball and Ball encourage partnering with professionals in the areas so that you get a second pair of eyes and a business-minded person involved in tough situations and scenarios. They state, “often, camp directors retain the direct supervision of the program because of their interest and find an assistant who serves as business manager” (318). Knowing my love for programming and people, I would struggle under the weight of business matters, yet it is crucial if I’m to be in the leadership of a camp that I know what goes on in the area of money and keeping business records. If nothing else, I will need to abide by these and follow the rules in these areas.

The top take away I got from this chapter is that of keeping records and keeping records, and then keeping more records. Ball and Ball emphasize this in almost every section of the chapter and then make a list of how long everything should be kept in your records at the end of the chapter. The chapter was increasingly helpful because it offered a number of examples of forms and lists that should be considered and kept in your records. These including a budget plan, a list of accounts used, petty cash advance slip, etc… I also, realized how much the different sections of business in a camp affect each other–for instance, Ball and Ball reflect that, “salaries and food often account for as much as 50 to 60 percent of a camp budget and need to be carefully analyzed since a slight change in either item could substantially alter the budgeted expenditures” (331).

Overall, these chapters revealed a hole in my learning about camping over the years. I’ve gone to many camp meetings and been through a lot of business meetings where budgets were looked at, but honestly I usually zoned out because I don’t understand the verbiage. However, that doesn’t give me an excuse because I had the opportunity to know. Therefore, I will be paying attention more closely at the next meeting to see if I can pick out the words used and what not and ask questions about what they are saying. Having been involved at a non-profit camp, I’ve been involved in multiple cases of fundraising and so I understand that more so, but Ball and Ball revealed more instances where fundraising can be used and promoted which was beneficial. One such example is that of having fundraising personnel, which could involve volunteers specifically focused on fundraising (351).

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