Diverse classrooms, camps, and after-school environments are strongly correlated to positive experiences for participants. Research shows that being in environments with peers from a variety of racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds helps children work better, feel safer, and be more creative. With this in mind, camps are intentionally recruiting a more diverse group of campers and staff members into their programs.
While progress is happening in this space, challenges remain. A reported 53% of camps have trouble recruiting diverse staff and 40% struggle to provide financial support to campers, according to the American Camps Association. To overcome these barriers, camp leaders need to be thoughtful about their strategy and look for ways to leverage new tools. Camp management software can support diversity and inclusion initiatives by maximizing digital recruitment and easing communication between applicable parties.
How Software Helps Recruit Diverse Campers and Staff
Expanding the reach of recruitment materials is a great way to attract a diverse group of participants. Strategies like social media, advertising and email campaigns are powerful recruitment tools, so selecting a camp management software that integrates these features into one easy-to-use platform is important.
Once new campers and staff have been recruited, it’s time to submit an application. Rather than sorting between physical and online forms, a fully digital application process makes it faster and easier for camps to process information. After switching to a digital registration system, camps have seen a 90% reduction in time spent processing registrations, paving the way for more time to recruit strategically. Great camp management software also populates registration demographics in real-time, allowing camp leaders to refine and refocus recruitment efforts while registration is open.
Taking steps to digitize the registration process makes it easier for camps to customize request for information forms. Request for information forms allow prospective customers to make inquiries online before putting in an official application, helping to avoid phone calls or emails getting lost in the shuffle during busy registration periods. Using this method, prospective campers and staff can raise concerns about the program and communicate issues that might keep them from participating. When camps take steps to identify and address barriers to inclusion, they are taking steps to build a more diverse and inclusive program.
How Software Helps Retain Campers and Staff
While it’s important to open the doors to a broader group of participants and recruit diverse campers and staff, it is equally, if not more important, for camps to work internally to ensure their programs are inclusive. It would be disappointing for participants to arrive at a camp that recruited them only to realize that the camp didn’t have the resources or knowledge to support their specific needs. One way camps can work to ensure their programs are inclusive is by using integrated communication tools to share expectations and values in a timely and consistent manner. For example, camp leaders could use the software to automatically send a daily text to staff reminding them of DEI best practices. In the same way, staff could send a weekly email to parents listing the planned activities and reassuring parents that they’re providing the correct accommodations. Both examples display the positive difference that good communication makes when fostering an inclusive environment.
Camp management software can also allow campers and staff to request and receive financial aid securely. When leaders can minimize the stress and hassle of financial aid, they open the doors for more campers to stay at the camp at a reduced cost and keep coming back year after year. In the long run, camp management software makes it easier for participants to voice concerns directly to staff, leading to productive problem-solving rather than buried frustrations.
Camp and Class Manager is Here to Help
Ultimately, digital tools are invaluable in recruiting and retaining a more diverse class of participants. ACTIVE Network is your partner to expand your DE&I initiatives, providing you with tools like Camp and Class Manager (CCM). ACTIVE Network’s CCM is an online registration and participant management platform helping you create a stand-out participant experience. By streamlining administrative burdens, CCM allows directors to get back to doing what they do best — building memorable camp programs that shape children’s lives. To learn more, check out the camps page on our website or send us a message.