The Proof Is In The Details

Quality--how do you define it? What is its true definition?

If you look it up in the dictionary, several entries come up that include words like “excellence” or “superiority”; but the definition that I prefer is “essential character.” For some reason, those words have power and they speak to something at the root of what quality truly is. The word “essential” means “of utmost importance or indispensible” while “character” means “attributes that distinguish an individual.” If we put them together, quality is the indispensible attributes that distinguish us from others.

Does “quality” define your camp program? Does your camp have indispensible attributes that distinguish it from others? When we think about quality in general, we tend to think about those companies or brands that are outside the norm in how they deliver them. There are hundreds of hotels across the country, but if I ask you to name a quality hotel, you would think of just a few that stand out.

Just the same, there are thousands of summer camps and destinations that are in competition with your camp. What is it about the quality of your camp that is making you stand out from the rest?

The answer is in the details. Companies that excel in the marketplace are those that understand the details, focus on them and pursue never-ending perfection. Most camps across the country are good camps. If this was not the case they would be shutting down; but what changes a camp from good to great is that essential character that distinguishes it from the rest. Your camp does not need another inflatable at the lake or a flashy new brochure to be great--it needs to focus on the details to ensure great staff development, great program delivery and great customer service.

Dave Bell has directed day and resident camp programs for more than 15 years. Currently, he is the Director of Association Programs for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. He is a former American Camp Association Southeast Section board member, a certified Y-USA Day Camp Director Trainer and a Y-USA partner YMCA camp consultant. Reach him via e-mail at