Let’s face it: As a camp administrator, your to-do list is never finished. You get to kick your feet up for a few days around labor day after all the campers have gone home, but otherwise there are always projects at hand. With registration forms to process, new hire references to check, designing new programming, bus schedules to organize….the list goes on.
One task gets crossed off the list, two more get added.
Keeping track of all the everyday and big picture to-dos is a truly herculean task. And although staying organized certainly helps keep things running smoothly, it only goes so far. An unexpected crisis can throw even the most organized camp director into a panic.
The good news? You no longer have to rely on 3 different pieces of software – or a meticulously organized filing cabinet – to keep your camp humming, no matter what comes your way.
In today’s world, easy-to-implement, easy to use summer camp management software tools are at your fingertips. In one way or another, each of them helps you collect, instantly access, share and organize your important data so you can keep your camp running like a well-oiled machine (and focus on what’s truly important!).
Features Inside Camp Management Software
What are the most-used features that the best summer camp software tools provide? From online camp health forms to user-friendly registration tools, here are five camp management modules to help you work smarter – and faster – year-round, including through the demanding summer season.
1. Online Camp Registration (That Parents Actually Like!)
You run an amazing camp. Your campers are telling their friends about it. Their friends are telling their parents, and at registration time parents are lining up at your virtual door to register their campers.
Is your online camp registration software ready to deliver?
If not, you’ll notice it right away. There’s nothing quite so off-putting to parents as not being able to easily register their child – and it’s often their first experience with your camp. In today’s day and age, everyone is used to a seamless checkout process – from Amazon to eBay and everything in-between. How does your experience compare?
Aside from disgruntled parents, emails back and forth, and wasted time, if your registration software isn’t dialed you’ll end up with missing data or incomplete forms and, eventually, even bigger problems.
Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for a camp registration online tool that doesn’t deliver.
Camp registration software that on-boards your campers seamlessly is readily available. Since this is your chance to make a first (and lasting) impression, make sure it’s done right. Parents will love you for it. Kids will laud you. And we actually hired someone to sit in a small room and watch for every new registration that comes through, and her whole job is to enthusiastically fist pump when new campers register online.
So…what should you be looking for in online registration? The best camp enrollment platforms offer:
- Customization: Every camp’s onboarding process is unique. So your platform should allow complete customization to suit your needs. Want to offer automated enrollment based on a camper’s previous history? Or do you need more granular control over the process (ie approving campers)? What type of information do you need from parents? Can parents save their progress if they need to step away from the computer? Are you notified every time a registration is submitted, or once a day in a summary email? Choose a platform that can be personalized for your specific needs.
- Pricing and Payment Flexibility: Does your camp offer early bird pricing? Multi-session packages? Pay-in-full discounts? The best solutions allow you to offer every last one of the pricing and promotions options you might use. Plus, today’s platforms empower you to offer campers a variety of ways to pay, including payment plans and auto-debiting.
- Simplified Integration: Registration data is a valuable resource for your camp. It can inform your bunk assignments, transportation, scheduling, and health program at camp. The best tools make this data accessible across your platform(s) in a manageable, automatically integrated workflow (at CampMinder, we call this the Unified Person Record).
- Marketing Alignment: Who’s returning to camp? Which campers are first-timers? Personalizing your messaging will put parents at ease and welcome them to camp. A reliable camp registration tool will make this data accessible and useful for your marketing efforts in the future.
2. Camper Transportation Scheduling (Like a Boss)
Scheduling camper transportation requires a bunch of super-human skills – logistical masterminding, communication expertise, and creative problem-solving to name a few. Add situations like flat tires, imminent weather, and last-minute schedule changes, and your transportation schedule can quickly get thrown out-of-whack. No matter the issue, camp travel coordinators experience it all
Yet, there are some handy tools that make travel coordination much easier. If you deal with travel & transportation, one aspect of camp management you can’t live without is the scheduling software component. It simplifies the coordinating and puts everyone on the same page – from bus drivers to parents, to counselors waiting for campers to arrive.
Specifically, camp scheduling software helps solve a number of unique camp issues, including:
- Route Building and Optimization: Which busses run on which days? Where does each bus stop? A scheduling tool can help you organize your routes, generate ETAs, and determine which students will be picked up at which stops.
- Camper Scheduling: Does Tristan ride three days a week or all five? Is she picked up by her mom on Tuesdays and her dad all other days? Camp scheduling platforms allow travel coordinators to build records for each camper and share these records with appropriate staffers.
- Fast Attendance Cross-Referencing: Is a headcount coming up short? In moments when a camper is missing, drivers and chaperones need attendance data at their fingertips. Scheduling tools allow data to be shared quickly, eliminating the need to call administrators to double-check records.
3. Counselor Hiring (Make it Seamless!)
You can’t just hire anyone to shepherd your campers. Interviewing new staffers, however, is a time-intensive process. In fact, according to Glassdoor data, the average interview process takes about 23 days from start to finish.
When you have 100 candidates to interview, that makes for a long, busy spring.
Yet, there are solutions that can help you streamline the process. From accepting applications to background checks and checking references, camp management software platforms can carry the load.
Let’s look at one of the most time-consuming tasks in the process: Tracking down references.
Every camp administrator who deals with hiring should consider automated reference forms. This technology tidbit makes it easier to automatically send a reference check request and track the form’s progress.
That’s right – when a potential counselor submits their application, they provide email addresses for their references. Your platform then automatically sends these references a link to an auto-generated form. Once completed, you get notified, dust your hands off and make the hire (or not).
No need to track down references or log the hiring progress in a spreadsheet- there are better camp management tools to help you!
Additionally, the best tools allow you to customize your counselor reference forms and choose the exact questions you’re asking for specific positions. Chances are, arts & crafts education might not be a skill you need in the kitchen, but with custom reference forms, you can align your questions with the job.
4. Run a Safe Camp With Online Camp Health Forms
Health data accessibility can help you ensure your campers are always safe. Just think: You might have Johnny’s health form on file, but when he’s having an allergic reaction, can his counselor quickly access this info to provide the right medical attention?
Online health records to the rescue!
Johnny’s guardian completed his health form online so that critical information – like medication requirements, medical conditions, and food allergies – are then added to his record. This can then be securely accessed by all staff members as-needed.
Whenever there’s a health emergency, your staff can access this info from a tablet, desktop or mobile device. So if Johnny requires an EpiPen for a bee sting, your counselors and supervisors know just what to do for maximum camp management efficiency.
You should be looking for a few key features in your online health form platform in particular:
- Security: Medical record privacy is a primary reason camp administrators are hesitant to utilize online health forms. That’s why you need to choose a provider that makes data security a priority.
- Accessibility: Health records are useless if they’re housed in a separate database. Important information needs to be accessible across the platforms you use – desktop, mobile, tablet.
- Continuity: Your staff might not always have a Wi-Fi connection; in fact, they may never have access to the Internet. Your online health record platform should offer continuity, ensuring records are available no matter the location.
- Usability: Are the forms easy to fill out? Are they routed to the correct database? How easy is it to access this data and build health profiles for your campers? Your health record software should be user-friendly at each step in the process.
- Comprehensiveness: Chances are you collect a lot of important health data, like allergies, health, social or mental health histories. The best online health form platforms enable you to customize the data you collect.
- Integration: Once you’ve collected a form, how easily can you integrate that data into your business? A great healthcare system enables critical information to be shared with the right staff and complements your medication distribution and infirmary visit reporting.
5. Share (And Archive!) Those Lasting Memories
Camp photos capture lasting memories for your campers and staff. This begs the question…how do you ensure those memories are safe, and how do you access them? If you don’t have an archiving platform, chances are looking up photos for marketing campaigns or reunions can take an afternoon or more. That’s not a great way to capitalize on camp management.
A simple solution: You need an online camp photo archival tool.
A photo sharing and archival platform designed for your needs makes finding, publishing and saving photos easier. And it ensures your photos are protected and properly backed-up. So when former campers return in 15 years with kids of their own, they can pass their memories along to the next generation.
You’re a camp administrator; not an archivist. Save yourself time by using a photo archive tool. **Frank – should this be a pitch more toward CIT specifically and not archiving photos?
Work Smarter with the Best Camp Management Software
The business of running a camp requires year-round dedication. Each month of the year – whether it’s February or July – has its own to-do list. With modern camp management software, there are web-based resources at your fingertips that can help you work smarter – not harder.
When it comes down to brass tacks, as a camp administrator you don’t have time to waste. So get connected, work smarter and try some of these digital tools to grow your camp. Let us know if we can help.