Just this spring, a well-respected camp assured me that it wasn't necessary to do camper and parent surveys 'because it only makes people focus on the bad parts of camp'.
Needless to say, that is not the current thinking of businesses that plan to thrive in a very competitive environment. Certainly retention rates reflect satisfaction levels, but they are not the immediate feedback that can improve your program session after session.
Plan for age-appropriate on-site camper surveys and let parents know that at the end of their child's last session, you will be requesting that they complete a short survey to help you in your 'ongoing quest for excellence' or 'efforts to make the camp experience even better.'
You can also give parents an incentive to complete the survey by a specific date with an entry into a drawing for a free session of camp, a camp store gift certificate or a myriad of other options. Larger incentives usually increase the number of responses.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
- Treat the Camper Survey with Respect. Set aside a time for the business to be done usually around lunch on the day BEFORE kids are going home. Have a BRIEF introduction by a respected staff member in a conducive environment for writing. Tell kids how important their input is and ask questions for which you really want the answers. Two critical questions ... 'Do you want to come back to camp next year?' and 'What would make camp even better?'. Collect surveys by groups, review immediately and take action.
Evaluate the Parent Experience. Certainly, parents can tell you if they have seen growth in their child's swimming ability, responsibility or social skills; however, they should not be asked to interpret their camper's experience because they will skew the input. Critical questions for parents include ... 'Did the camp experience benefit your child?', 'Do you want your child to return to camp next year?', 'Will you refer us to other parents?' and 'Were we responsive to you during the summer?'. Allow for only YES or NO answers.
Scrutinize the survey results, prioritize issues that will improve your program and then market those changes to parents. They will appreciate the fact that you listened and more important, the action you've taken.
Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp? Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note from Travis: We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith! If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)