Trust Your Gut, But Use Your Data

Michelle Mercier, our communities marketing maven, shares her insights into a discussion she helped host at a recent camps conference:

Last week, ACTIVE brought together a panel discussion at the American Camps Association National Conference in Dallas to discuss how camps are beginning to challenge the status quo and to use data as a core decision making tool. I thought I’d share a few key takeaways from the panel…

“Aligning programs with parents’ goals”
Avid4Adventure, an outdoor adventure camp, wanted to revamp their camp programs to better align with parents’ evolving needs. To do this, they put together a carefully thought-out process to uncover what their customers—moms—were truly looking for in terms of youth development. Combining the quantitative and qualitative data they collected, Avid4Adventure was able to create a new curriculum that not only met parents’ goals for their kids but could also be easily articulated in their marketing materials in a way that made sense to parents.

“Predicting new hire success”
One of our summer camp customers was looking for a way to predict new counselor success. Most hire decisions were based on gut feel, but it didn’t always work out and the camp director wondered if there might be detectable indicators. He started by changing interview questions and also added an exit interview. After analyzing the correlations between hiring interview answers and performance, the counselor uncovered a few key questions that were great predictors of counselor success. The camp has now been using this new data-driven interview process and is continuing to make smarter hiring decisions.

“Challenging traditional training models”
Industry consultant, Scott Arizala, urges camps to challenge what they’re used to doing.  Camp Kesem, for example, is run by 1,500 student leaders from 41 college chapters across the country. Rather than relying on old training models that were readily available but would have been ill-suited for the camp’s unique staffing approach, Scott challenged them to completely rethink their training practices. The result? 98% of parents said that they intended to send their kids back to Camp Kesem again.

“Setting ambitious goals”
The Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) camp manages a variety of programs aimed at special needs children and adults. Because the camp accepts people with a wide range of disability levels, offering a swimming program had never been considered until camp directors decided that they should have a pool suited for all of their campers. By collecting data about their campers’ needs, they were able to build an aquatic center that 99% of their campers can now enjoy.

Visit ACTIVE Camps to learn how camp management technology solutions can help put actionable camp data at your fingertips.