What You Put Up With, You End Up With...

Planning for Next Summer Requires Real Reflection


Well it has been a few years since I have lived through "September Exhaustion" but I can still clearly remember how each and every part of me (mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual) was completely and thoroughly spent at this time of year.  It was hard to find the energy to begin planning for next year let alone go back and visit the summer just ended.

I learned over my many years of camp directing, however, the importance of taking some time in September to focus and reflect on the past season.  Although thoughts were already turned to the camping year to come, I needed to set aside time with our full-time staff to go over those evaluations, discuss any 'incidents', celebrate the victories, and grade us on how well we lived up to our goals and philosophy.

I came across a quote the other day which I have used while doing training and it rang true, once again:  "What you put up with, you end up with".

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you begin planning for Summer 2013 (no doubt you can make the list much longer):

What Did We End Up With?

  • what was the overall feeling of Camp on the last day of summer? 
  • did staff and campers become better people because of their experience?
  • what does our geographical community feel about our Camp after another summer here?
  • are we happy with our registration numbers? 
  • did we have an unusual number of parent complaints/concerns?
  • do we know that we will have a high return rate of campers?  have they already begun to register for next year?
  • do we feel confident we will have a high return rate of staff? 
  • did they have positive evaluations of Camp at summer's end?
  • did we meet our goals we created before the summer began?  where did we fall short?
  • did ALL our activities and programs mesh with our Camp's philosophy? if not, why?

What Did We Put Up With?

  • what camper incidents occurred over the summer? is there a pattern?
  • what staffing issues did we have to deal with?  is there a pattern?
  • are there sessions we need to cover next year in pre-camp training?
  • would we hire back the exact same group of people? why or why not?
  • did we have any negative press?
  • what does our online presence say about our Camp?
  • were our expenses higher than budgeted?
  • were there programmes, buildings, or other physical needs of the camp that went unattended to due to time or money constraints?

What changes do we need to make for 2013 -- beginning right now?

My hope for you this September is that you will give yourself the gift of reflection.  It will allow you plan better for next year, feel confident about the direction in which you are headed, and celebrate the many wonderful life-changing moments you shared these last few months.

Thank you again for all you do, for all your hard work and dedication, and for the difference you have made in the lives of so many.  Camps WILL change the world.