In order to run a program at a high level, you have to be an effective communicator. You can never communicate too much. Keeping your participants, staff and volunteers in the loop in every aspect of your program can only help.
Here are six tips to be an effective communicator at camp:
Use Multiple Platforms to Communicate: Email, social media, apps, websites, phone calls, text and face-to-face meetings are all examples of ways to communicate to your participants and those interested in your program. If you are using multiple communication channels both internally and externally, and your participants know where to find the information, there should be no reason a participant tells you “they didn’t know” when something comes up.
Communicate Before and After Camp Season: Once you release your initial dates, make sure to remind people as you get closer to registration. Don’t just assume they will remember. Once camp ends, let your participants know the next start dates before they finish. When you have them in the door, keep them in by always letting them know when the next program takes place.
Communicate During Registration: Whether your participants register online or in person it is important they have all the needed information for the upcoming camp. Make sure your participants are ready and prepared for their first day. If you have a registration window, make sure you are sending reminders leading up to your first date.
Send Weekly Communications During Camp: At a minimum you should send your parents an email at least once a week. In the email, recap the week and give any updates or important information for the coming weeks. If there is nothing to report on, it can be as simple as letting them know it was a great week and you look forward to the next week while outlining upcoming activities. You can turn this into a program newsletter, add pictures or multi-media, and showcase all those special moments you had that week at camp.
Set Up a Line of Communication with Staff and Volunteers: Make sure everyone involved in the daily operation of your camp is in the loop on your operation on a daily basis. Sometimes the most frustrating thing for a staff member or volunteer is being left out and having to figure out what they are supposed to be doing. Review schedule and activities every morning and check in with your staff, when time permits, throughout the day.
Be Responsive: If you get a question or concern that comes in person, email or over the phone, make sure you respond to the inquiry as soon as you can. At the very least, acknowledge you received the message within 24 hours even if you need time to research the situation. This will go a long way in keeping your participants happy and trusting you will address their needs.
Communication is a two way street. If you are the communicator make sure to convey your message clearly and as often as you can. If you are receiving the communication be a great listener, retain the information and be responsive. A camp program with great communication at every level will go a long way in running a well-organized, high-level operation.
Jason Schaitz is a parks and recreation director with 15 years of experience managing youth sports, camps and recreation programs. He also created and manages League Source and The Summer Camp Source with the goal of providing free, high-quality resources for any type of youth sports or camp program. Take your leagues and camps to the next level by visiting our websites for free resources and education!