Snuggled in the back pocket of my jeans, it goes, wherever I go. To work, to church, to basketball practice, to Thanksgiving dinner and so on. In essence, it’s become part of my wardrobe, much like my wallet or my shoes.
But, unlike my wallet or my shoes, this little, black Moleskine notebook keeps me company not for any practical purpose, but rather as receptacle for my increasingly random thoughts, ideas, lists and artwork. Since I’ve latched onto it, I’ve fallen in love with the pure chaos of jotting down whatever’s on my mind, whenever it’s on my mind, on any page of the book I happen to open. There’s no table of contents (though I do number the pages) and there’s very little organization.
To me, this book is pure rebellion. It’s at complete odds with how I live my life and try to run my company – obsessing over details, processes, time-tables, and so on. To my amazement, I love it. Paging through it this morning, I discovered half-completed artwork from my two middle daughters, tips and tricks on how to more quickly install my ice rink next year, a few day’s worth of meals I ate and the Weight Watcher’s points assigned to them (looks like November 29 was a bad day for my waistline), a list of funny things my kids have done, a list of children’s books I’d like to write, notes on how to improve my son’s pitching performance, a new play for his basketball team, and ideas for my wife’s Christmas present.
Sometimes, I open and use the book several times in a day. Other times, I go weeks without even cracking open the cover. But, whenever I need it, it’s right there, waiting patiently for me.
In a lot of ways, your camp is like my Moleskine notebook. It’s a magical place where the distractions, time-tables, and concerns of the so-called “real world” melt away allowing campers to try a new activity, explore nature (maybe for the first time), make new friends and, in some cases, try on a new personality just to see how it fits. It’s a carefree, risk-free environment full of possibilities and, more than ever, it’s desperately needed.
As you know all too well, our kids, mine included, are over-programmed, over-coached, over-everything. To make room for all these new programs, private lessons, and so, the time kids have traditionally used to go to camp is getting squeezed. In many cases, this has made it harder to convince non-camping families (non-alumni) to give your camp a try.
We decided to look at this problem in this issue and, as is our tendency, turned to Gary Forster and Tim Diering to help us through the camp marketing process. As it turns out, there’s not a lot of spade-work to do and not necessarily a lot of money to spend. But, there may be a need to change your customer service ideology and do things like answer your phones later in the evening, turn off voice mail and focus on answering incoming customer questions first and completing in-house administrative tasks second.
In addition to practical solutions, we also took a crack at the money end of the process. Mark Sutton, a new voice for the magazine, covers fundraising and the always popular Silvana Clark talks about maximizing your volunteers. I hope you enjoy the issue and, like my trusty Moleskine notebook, encourage you to use these pages as receptacle for your random ideas, thoughts, and lists.
Have a Happy New Year!
Rodney J. Auth