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ACA, Indiana Blog
March 4, 2013
I had the chance to go to Disney over Halloween last October. My 10 year old son, my wife and I had 6 days to explore this world famous destination. Can you believe not one of us had been before? It seems like a ‘must do’ for families. Just wasn’t in our family plan – until last fall!
2 days were travel days and the other 4 we opted to go to a park per day. Everyone I talked to said you will love Disney and it is such an ‘experience’. What does that mean? Experience? I have an experience every day – so I was anxious and anticipated learning what they were talking about. Well, I can say Disney delivered the ‘experience’, for sure. Our ‘experience’ included noticeable planning and execution of literally everything Disney does and everything Disney is part of, which was everything! Things like detailed transition of music from area to area, to never seeing a trash collector, to the hidden Mickey’s, to the parades and fireworks. They were all part of this magical vacation. They had thought of everything. What Disney does is very intentional and well executed. Disney delivered my family the experience.
Those of you that have been to Disney maybe understand what I am talking about. You can also possibly relate to the idea that offering an experience is something we try to do at our camps. Think about it, from the time you make contact with a patron you are trying to give them the best experience you possibly can. I thought about how our intent is very parallel to Disney’s, the significant difference is in our presentation. Ok, and the money, resources, property, cartoon characters…I get it!
But what we want for our ‘customers’ is not so different. I have also had the opportunity, through ACA conferences, to listen to Disney Executives talk about how they provide this experience to their patrons. As you can imagine there are many layers to this process. So what can we learn from the Magic Kingdom? Maybe nothing – but my take away was that our responsibility to our campers, to the industry and to our organizations is to do everything in our power to provide our campers with a positive experience. That might look different where I work then where you work, but the intention is the same.
The other thing I already knew, but confirmed after being at Disney for a week is that they do what they do extremely well. And so do we – be proud of the experiences and opportunities we offer to campers, and share the magic! When campers talk about their camp experience well after it happened, we can be happy with a job well done. My son still talks about Disney, quite often – but not as often as his camp experience. That is pretty powerful.
Editorial note: We won’t go back to Disney anytime soon. We have friends that go every year – that is their vacation. I guess we prefer magical experiences elsewhere. To each their own! It was fun, however, to be there during Halloween.
Yours in Camping,
LCOL Chair, ACA Indiana
March 2, 2013
Whether you’re a parent, a camp administrator, educator, camper or other, the question, simple as it reads, has such an amazing array of answers and stories for each of us. And it brings me to the topic for this edition of chattering from the chair.
I started in this industry as a summer camp counselor in 1986, and the following year continued camping more full time working year-round (OE, weekends, etc.). Like many of us I was going to college and trying to figure out what I wanted to do – and at the time it wasn’t camp. But something happened that changed my perspective and my professional path forever. For many of us this life changing experience came in the form of working with an amazing camper, sharing the camp experience with our son/daughter, or working with a staff member that becomes our best friend or even life partner. You can make that significant connection to that person from wherever you are, and typically it becomes your camp ‘elevator’ message when talking about camp. Or maybe it was an experience when you were able to ‘make a difference’ in a child. Because that is what camping is all about, isn’t it?
For me it was much different.
Camp helped me find my way as an individual. Yes, I had the euphoric experiences with amazing campers, best friends and the like, but camp truly changed my way of viewing the world and possibly more importantly, viewing myself. I can honestly say camp has been a significant part of shaping who I am – and it continues to do so in amazing ways. In its most basic form, that is what camp means to me. It gave me so much, and hopefully I have been able to give back just as much.
So what’s my point? My point is that when you peel back all the layers of this camp onion, there are so many anecdotal messages that in my opinion always come back to the fact that camp is so important on so many levels. And for many of us, the meaning of camp is just that simple at fundamental level – its important and part of who we are. And also for many of us, the message takes on such a deeper philosophical meaning. It may be everything to us. Bottom line is whatever camp means to you, be sure to share that message with others. Because remember always…Camp Does a World of Good!
Yours in Camping,
LCOL Chair, ACA Indiana