The CampMinder Blog

Here our team discusses tips, news, happenings and more all related to the wonderful world of camp – and managing it. We welcome you to join the conversation!

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Special Pre-Summer Reports

If you haven’t yet welcomed campers for the 2015 summer season, you’ll surely be doing so soon. We’ve recently added many new help videos to assist you during this critical time – you’ll have access to thorough videos covering popular topics to view at your leisure. They’re great for a quick refresher, or to teach your newly hired staff the basics of CampMinder! Of course, always feel free to call us if you have specific questions – we’re here seven days a week to assist you through August.

We wanted to take a minute to highlight one of the videos in particular – our “Pre-Summer Special Reports”. This video outlines four reports you may find benefit in running prior to your upcoming sessions. Three of them help you find campers with missing information, while the fourth helps you celebrate! The video is less than 7 minutes, and will walk you through running the following reports:

Missing Photos Report
Missing Bunk Assignment Report
Unassigned Travel Plans Reports
Summer Birthdays Report

We know you’re busy prepping for camp, but take a few minutes out of your day to learn a bit more about these unique reports.

Click here to watch the video

Please note that this video (as well as all other CampMinder help videos) is also available by navigating to the TV icon in the upper right hand corner of your CampMinder system.

If you have any questions about this reports in this video, or anything else, give us a call- we’ll be glad to help!

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Tips: Criminal Background Checks For Your Staff

It’s that time of year when camp directors check the final items off their to-do lists prior to staff arrival. One of the most important items on those lists each year is to complete the appropriate background checks for their staff. A task like that isn’t something most camp directors do more than once a year, so they often have to read up on the specifics, wondering if what they are doing is correct. In some cases, camp directors believe they know exactly what they should be doing for background checks, but they find out laws or regulations have changed.
Over the course of the last month, I’ve been calling CampMinder camps and reminding them of the background check resource they have in their databases. As a former camp director, I thought I knew a lot about background checks… as it turns out, I’ve been learning quite a bit during the course of those calls.

My biggest takeaway is related to a question I’ve received a lot: “What are other camps doing?” The answer to that is, “It depends.” Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily a background check blueprint for every camp across the country. The appropriate checks for staff at your camp could depend on state regulations. The American Camp Association has a helpful tool on their website that can answer a lot of questions about the relevant laws and regulations in your state, including those governing background checks. Click here to find out what is expected in your area:

What background checks you should be conducting may also depend on what entities have a vested interest in your camp. For example, does your insurance company have minimum requirements? Does your legal counsel have specific expectations? Are you mainly focused on the ACA accreditation standards? Are there licensing issues that play a role in what background checks you do? Knowing the answers to these questions will help alleviate any anxiety about inconsistencies and the ever-shifting world of criminal background checks.

Ultimately, every camp is trying to create a safe environment for their campers. Criminal background checks are just one piece of that puzzle, albeit a critical piece. In your CampMinder database there is a brief explanation of each background check that is offered, along with price and the required information to run that check. There are also two excellent tutorial videos that you can access by clicking on your CampMinder TV and scrolling down to “Background Checks.” If you have questions or would like to enable background checks in your system, don’t hesitate to call us at the CampMinder office.

All of us here wish you the best of luck in checking all items off your summer planning list!

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New Help Videos Released

Summer is right around the corner and that means your focus is shifting to modules with which you might not be familiar. If you or an admin user need a training or maybe just a refresher, take a look at the new videos from our training team. I bet some of you just thought to yourself “Whoa, they have help videos?” Yes we do, and our training team will continue to add videos for your viewing pleasure.

With summer bearing down on us, you probably wont have time for full trainings with us. Don’t worry, we have you covered. The training videos are broken down into shorter segments, so you can devote a few minutes here or there to learn easily digestible information.

To access our library of help videos in CampMinderTV, login to CampMinder and click on the little television icon in the upper right hand of your screen. See the picture to the right if you have no idea what I am talking about.

A popup will appear with the videos organized by category. Simply click on the video you want to watch and it will begin playing. The videos range from a minute and a half to ten minutes, making them easy to fit into your hectic schedule. The newly uploaded videos cover the communication and emails, eLetters, uploading videos, the News system, the Phone Reservation system, Day Camp Attendance and Transportation, background checks, batch form printing, forms received, Bunk Request Form settings, Authorized Group Up Form Settings, the medical health center and medical reporting.

As always, if you have any questions regarding these videos, please contact us by submitting a ticket or calling us at 303-444-2267 ext. 2.

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Looking for an easier way to communicate with parents about payments?

How many times has a parent called you to ask if their payment was processed? Wouldn’t it be great if instead of spending your precious time answering these questions, CampMinder could take care of that for you? We can! Automated Financial Emails can be set up to send a customized message based on the outcome of the transaction (for both credit cards and eChecks). These messages are initiated when a parent makes a payment through CampInTouch and when transactions are processed by an admin user through CampMinder.

New ‘Minders: Maybe you remember learning about CampMinder’s Automated Financial Emails during your initial trainings, but now are you thinking to yourself; did I set those up? Skip ahead to the “How do I upgrade?” section below for a refresher on this feature.

CampMinder Pros: I bet some of you are thinking “This is old news. I already knew that.”
But wait! If you’re using the previous version of automated financial emails, yes – you know that you can tell that parent on the phone that they should have received a message confirming the payment. However, you wouldn’t be able to look at their record and let them know exactly when the email was sent and to which email address. Now you can!

With the upgrade to Enhanced Registration, you also have access to upgrade your Automated Financial Emails. These automated financial emails are similar to the previous version; however, the upgraded version comes with a major benefit:

Automated Financial Emails now log in the lower Communication > Email Log tab of the record*
This means that as an admin user, you can be certain that the automated financial email was sent and confirm to which address the email was sent.

Need another reason to upgrade?
Anyone who runs a business can tell you that branding is an important factor. It adds a level of professionalism and reinforces your organization’s image. The upgraded automatic financial emails come with the option of using your camp’s stationery in the message.

Okay, I’m in! How do I upgrade?
Upgrading to the newest version of our Automated Financial Emails is very easy and can be completed today! Simply navigate to Admin > Financial Admin. When this page loads, click Settings and scroll down to the section titled Automated E-Mails. Click Update Emails.

If you are currently using the previous version of Automated Financial Emails, open a new tab in your browser and navigate to Admin > System Maintenance > Canned Emails. Change the dropdown to Financial E-Mails and click View/Edit. From here you can copy your text and paste it into the new automated financial emails.

After you update, you’ll be presented with the familiar email editor – with options to customize your font and style, and to insert merge fields. Note that if you copy text from the earlier version of automated emails, you’ll need to replace the merge fields – for example $btitle will need to be replaced with {Billing Mailing Title}.

There is also a short tutorial video available to help you with the upgrade process. It can be accessed by clicking on the TV icon in the top right of your CampMinder database, or by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 303-444-2267 and press 2 for support.

CampMinder can’t tie your shoes for you, but our Automated Financial Emails can save you some time and peace of mind – so that you can focus on bigger things, like making 2015 the best summer yet!

*This feature is only available to camps on Enhanced Registration. If you have yet to convert to the upgraded system, please contact Lauren DiLivio () to learn more.

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Help Kids Fundraise Their Way to Camp

I am still very new in my position at CampMinder (one month on the job!), but one thing that has become very clear to me is how much the staff here cares about the camp industry. As such, lots of conversations happen in the office every day about trends, ideas and issues regarding summer camps. Sometimes these conversations are spurred by a call from a client camp, and sometimes they happen organically while sitting in the office kitchen at lunchtime. It always reminds me how much knowledge there is in this building about the industry and the people we are serving.

One such conversation recently occurred about families that could not afford camp on their own. Many camps, like Camp Chief Ouray where I was Director for 11 years, have scholarship programs. These programs allow families in financial need to apply for assistance. When we were discussing this in the office, I mentioned something that happened at Camp Chief Ouray’s centennial celebration in 2008: many attendees who were alumni from the 1950s asked if we were still offering the program where campers sold candy bars to help finance their camp fee. We weren’t. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that the program had existed. For the first time it occurred to me that Camp Chief Ouray did not provide any encouragement to our families to help offset costs other than the scholarship fund. We weren’t challenging campers to take ownership by raising money for their camp experience.

Based on those conversations, we added a section to our website that provides ideas for how campers can help earn money toward their own camp tuition. The list includes walking dogs, mowing lawns, babysitting, pet sitting, taking on additional chores around the house, etc. It seemed like such a great idea because it would nicely dovetail with what we hoped our campers were getting out of their camp experience: social skills, a sense of self and purpose, taking initiative and so on. And by fund-raising prior to coming to camp, we theorized, the camp ideals would be present in their “non-camp lives” longer.

I heard another idea recently that came up on an NPR news story. Kids could collect soda bottles and cans for recycling reimbursements. While the return on investment might be slow (5-10 cents per bottle or can in some states), it would produce awareness about recycling while earning money towards camp tuition. One way to increase the viability of this idea would be for the camper to partner with a company or restaurant that produces a lot of recyclables. Again, this kind of arrangement would facilitate many different life skills for the camper.

Since Camp Chief Ouray reintroduced this concept in summer 2009, I am only aware of one camper that truly took the ideas to heart and fund-raised her entire camp tuition. I’m sure part of the reason for that is we didn’t heavily market the idea. I do wonder if there are camps that have successfully encouraged campers to raise funds to cover their own tuition. In so many ways that kind of arrangement would broaden the impact of camp… and isn’t that what we all want?

Has your camp introduced a similar program? If so, please comment to share your ideas & successes!

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