Camp Reflections

9:17 AM

Camp ended Friday and I couldn't be happier.  Parents came to the awards reception and were blown away by how much their children had learned in just 7 weeks. It felt good to hear heartfelt thanks from moms, dads, aunts and guardians who appreciated how much we loved their child while he/she was in our care. In that light, I can definitely say The Commissioner's Camp: Summers of Success was a success.

As with any completely new project, I have things I want to change and lessons learned for the next go round.

1. Diversify funding streams - we are completed funded by a city agency and 5 months after getting an agreement for funding, we are penniless. Supposedly, we will get the funding this week but I've heard that before. 

2. Have check-ins with staff - Even if you have no news and no one seems to have questions, talk to them anyway. One staff member was pissed at the end of the camp when she hadn't been paid (Very understandable) but it was mostly because after the first few debriefing meetings she didn't know what was going on. I'm from the school of not meeting unless I have something to say but for people not involved in the daily meetings with the Councilmember regarding our funding and for those not going back and forth with everyone in the Youth Trust and Dept. of Parks & Recs, an update on administrators' daily activities, regardless of how little they avail, is refreshing.

3. Lay the ground rules first - I loved my volunteers but over time I realized they do not all have the same concepts of timeliness or following scheduling. I should've explained that you have to call if you aren't coming in/stick to your schedule ahead of time.  I thought everyone knew that but go figure!

4. Find ways to motivate your staff - Esp. in the NP sector where funding may me slow and minimal you have to find ways to keep your staff motivated and to let them know how much they are appreciated. I will definitely work on this for next year.

5. Have 2 back-up plans for funding - that's probably not as necessary when working with foundations but our funder kept us waiting on money promised to us for over 5 months. We never anticipated it taking this long so we had just about no more for our program as it was happening.  We had a small BBQ fundraiser that provided money for copies, some class equipment, etc. but not enough for salaries. I want to have funding commitments for next year's camp secured by mid-January. NEVER AGAIN will I rely on a city agency/single funder for all of our money. I will have some contingency plans to put in place if something happens with funding (i.e. series of fundraisers, sponsoring teachers for the program, sliding scale for app fees, combining large grants and small community grants, etc.).

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