Campers are gone, so what is there to do in the Off-Season?

It used to bother me when people assumed that after the campers were gone, we just propped our feet up and ate bonbons on some Caribbean isle until next summer rolled around. If they only had an inkling!

Granted, we don’t have a full complement of staff to delegate everything to, but it’s crazy how there is *never* a dull moment. Four of us spent an entire day last week just writing down our special projects from month to month–which doesn’t include the routine aspects of keeping the doors open. So here’s a glimpse:

August: we tie up loose ends. We make an effort to contact all camp families to find out their take on how summer went. We manage lost and found and camp-issued items (staff uniforms, rental sheets, loaned items). This is a monumental task all by itself. We map out our strategy for fall travels and begin to set that up. Monique works on the yearbook, which is planned for a January delivery date. Final details organized for Labor Day Triple S mother-daughter retreat.

September: we watch all the takes on the DVD, create the cover art, organize our supplies for mailing that and later big mailings. We organize logistics and begin to get the word out on our fall travels. 

October: we travel! This is always fun, seeing our campers and their families on their home turf. But the mail, emails, and phone calls keep coming in while we’re away, so when we’re back home there are those things to catch up on.

November: we contact all the counselors early this month to see if we can tie them down for next summer. We meet with clothing vendors to place routine orders for uniforms and other supplies. We shop and organize purchase orders on all anticipated supply needs. We contact our campers and leads who are not yet registered to urge them to sign up before Christmas so they can get their charm.

(Are you tired yet?)

December: we mail Christmas charms, confirm and contract staff, get everything ready to take to camper and counselor fairs in the spring, and start organizing logistics for those travels. Year-end taxes (yippee).

IMAG0886_1January: we have a massive birthday celebration for me (Not! But sometimes Dick and I take a week or so vacation). We prepare our Valentine celebration and cards. We attend camp fairs later in the month. We line up the charter buses for summer and reserve our spots at the state park for Teen/LITe overnight. We attend “CampMinder Camp” to get up-to-date training on using our online database. CampAmerica fairs take place in the UK.

February: now things are really getting busy! Final clothing orders are placed. Camp fairs are attended, follow-up contacts made afterward. We organize Open House for next month and begin contacting people about coming. We attend American Camp Association national convention (a full week). Recruit, interview, hire staff. Update online Trading Post.

March: we are available every weekend for tours, and we are really getting camp ready physically: putting water fountains back, ordering bedding plants, getting the garden ready to sow. We attend CAMPference (did I mention that Monique is a vice president?, so we have been involved on a weekly basis at least, working on that). Purchase tickets for Point Theater productions. Stock Trading Post with new purchases. Continue staff hiring and collection of forms. Open House itself and the follow-up afterward.

2016-Triple-S_spg-025April: we prepare everything for the Spring Triple S mother/daughter retreat. Organize summer schedule for staff regarding photo days, media plan, scheduling details. Begin filling clothing orders, organize welcome boxes for international staff, iron out details of staff training week and orientation week. Plant flowers and garden. (Thank goodness the days are longer, because there is so much to do.) Line up laundry service dates, collect camper forms. Organize security for summer.

May: by now we are on autopilot, putting out fires in every direction, training staff, collecting tuition payments and forms from camper families. Organizing counselor arrivals and housing for training weeks, making sure the kitchen is cranked up and running.

… And we’re off! Camp is unfolding like magic. What a crazy, wonderful life. They say the person who loves their job is always on vacation, and it’s a lot like that, but it in no way resembles eating bonbons.

About the Author


Leave a Comment