Camp Leadership: Gratitude for our Predecessors

An important part of Strategic and Master Site Planning is identifying where your camp is in relation to its goals and vision.  This process is not meant to judge or place blame, but instead, the assessment is a tool for growth. Having worked with many camps over the years, we’ve come to realize that in order to move forward, you must rely on information from the past. 

How Can the Past Shape your Camp’s Future? 

Chances are, long before you were leading your organization, someone else was doing it first, and their ideas and creativity laid the foundation that you stand upon today.  However, while working with current camp leaders, we often hear them express confusion about the way things were previously done. It’s true that what made sense fifty years ago, may not make much sense today, but there is an opportunity to take that information and anticipate the future needs of your organization. 

So, how do you do that exactly? It comes down to conducting a Situational Analysis that tries to understand why things were done in the past and whether or not those decision-making factors are still important. Taking the time to look back, in order to look forward, may help you create a richer and more meaningful plan for the future. A situational analysis can also help you envision the impact that your decisions will have on your camp in the future. 

How do I Conduct a Situational Analysis?

Several factors go into conducting an analysis. Some of them include:

  • Exploring what you know about why past decisions were made and evaluating whether or not those factors are still relevant.
  • Assessing current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your environment.
  • Identifying strategies that will overcome obstacles within your organization. 
  • Detecting any gaps between your goals and your current operations. 
  • Envisioning future facilities and programming to help create a cohesive roadmap.

Analyses like these can be very overwhelming, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. Consider hiring an experienced consultant who can help you and your team assess your current situation and strategize for growth. 

Showing Appreciation for your Founders

Although we may question the choices of our predecessors, without a crystal ball, they could have never anticipated all of our future needs. All we can do now is move forward and try to prevent making decisions that will have future leaders scratching their heads. 

No matter how many camps or retreat centers we work with, one thing is always evident, our fore-parents, much like current volunteers and staff, poured their time and talents into these camps and programs that are still thriving today! We should take a moment to appreciate the dedication, vision, and wisdom that they brought with them. After all, their passion for youth, the outdoors, and the community are what paved the way for us to do our work today.

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