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Bud Hits the Road for Camp Tours

July 5, 2024

I hope everyone had a safe, happy, healthy, 4th of July wherever you were. For the record, I enjoyed a second summer of fireworks at Pickering Warf in Salem, MA.

However, this 4th felt a little more special than last year’s, for this year I was coming off three days of touring camps in Vermont and New Hampshire.

People ask why we do these tours, and the answers vary:

  • Most often, we want to go somewhere our staff hasn’t been in quite some time.
  • On other tours, we like to see camps who’ve recently been Accredited and say thank you.
  • We’re always trying to learn about what’s going on both with campers, staff, and of course our members.
  • Touring camps keep staff connected to the camp experience in a way that’s unique to our industry (no two camps are the same no matter how much they’re alike).
  • And of course, it’s one of the finest benefits of working where I do. The hospitality, views, and camp food at New England camps are second to none in the industry.

Riding the high of bouncing from one camp to another, hearing one incredible story after the next, and meeting dozens of friendly counselors and campers, I reflected on my tours while watching fireworks last night, and here’s what repeatedly stood out to me:

  • Not to jinx it, but “camp” seems to be off to a great start. Any issues or problems that folks have faced are more “traditional camp problems”. After several summers of reinventing wheels and jumping through hoops, problems are back to being regular. Still, homesickness, staff issues, medical stuff, and even the recent mix of heat and rain haven’t dampened spirits. Camp is camping.
  • Creating a welcoming environment and safety go hand-in-hand. I didn’t make it very far onto any of the camp properties before I was greeted by the nearest adult, “Hi, welcome to camp. Can I help you with anything?” These people were all incredibly kind, but I could also tell they were intent on asking me a few questions before I got any further. Each time, I was either pointed to an office we both could see or escorted to the office to check-in.
  • The consistent theme on staff has been great. It’s early, and I get that. But so far, so good. It sounds like the staff who showed up are willing to work, but more and more need be told to do anything. There’s still a lack of initiative or hesitation to try and solve problems without affirmation that the solution in question is correct. Good problem to have, but still a problem to solve.

I admit, this last week was early in the summer, and it was a small sample of the overall New England population. Tours included single-gender and multi-gender camps. I toured camps that offer 1-week, 2-week, 3-week, 4-week, and 7-week sessions. I saw overnight camps and day programs, and I encountered a diverse population of campers and staff no matter how you slice it. So, while the summer is young, this week feels like we’re heading in the right direction.

Last but certainly not least. Thank you to the following camps who welcomed, hosted, and fed me this week: Hosmer Point, Camp DREAM, Camp Abnaki, Brown Ledge Camp, Camp Farwell, Camp Downer, Camp Merriwood, and Camp Onaway. Camp is a community, and I am honored to be part of New England.

As always, should you have questions, information, requests, etc. regarding camp tours, New England camps, or anything else we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to holler.

Thanks again!

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