Jim Sleezer (JHS8@OSUVM1.BITNET)
Wed, 2 Jun 1993 14:17:36 CST
Personally, I have seen a lot of summer camps that should be closed. I
have camped in 25 (counting this summer at Slippery Falls), and been on
the staff in 21.
The most successful camps I have seen are multi-camp camps which share staff
among several camps. Each camp has a base level of staffing but there may
be a common boating/canoeing area, a super central nature area, a field
sports area shared by two camps (the third camp had its own field sports
area and staff). You can have different types of camp - dining hall vs
patrol cooking vs heater stack vs any combination. The key seems to be
being large enough to pay staff well enough to attract good staff. If you
have a great camp, word will get around and Scouts will come.
Smaller councils may have difficulty establishing a reputation--except bad.
What I have seen work is to project sell several major staff positions such
as nature/ecology director, field sports director, scoutcraft director,
program director and underwrite salaries for a couple of years. If you
play it right, increased attendance in future years will pick up the slack.
I also notice that many councils are reluctant to raise fees high enough to
cover the cost of providing an excellent program. The result is a mediocre
camp with lower attendance the next year and so on. At that time it is really
hard to convince people that higher fees are needed!!
I saw one council with a great summer camp increase fees significantly--about
22 percent in one year. They did experience a slight drop in attendance--
about 4 percent. Attendance had been growing in the 6-10 percent range each
year so the drop was probably closer to 10-12 percent from what should have
been. BUT, they had higher income from fees overall, kept a great program
going, and the next year bounced back with a 14 percent increase in attendance.
Units recognized that they really were getting their money's worth. If the
camp had tried to cut back, the lower level of program would probably have
resulted in a declining pattern.
I'm a little surprised to hear myself say the above (re higher fees) since as
a Cubmaster I decided that the council fees were too high and opted to run
a pack camp (at the neighboring council's short term camp). We did it for
less than the council charged but we really had to scramble to get great staff
--I called in a lot of chits to have experts in camp for a half day at a time.
It helped that I was NCS certified in several areas. The Council camp was
also excellent--and full. The way I saw it, everyone gained.
My suggestion would be to make some of the smaller camps into short term
facilities where troops could have a good weekend experience and packs could
do family camping and focus long term camping at larger facilities where a
greater variety of activities can be provided. I'm sure there are lots of
other opinions on this one . . .
Roundtable Commissioner, Pawnee Bill District, Will Rogers Council
JHS8 at OSUVM1.BITNET JHS8 at VM1.UCC.OKSTATE.EDU (Internet)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City