With Winter Storm Stella en route to pummel the east coast, last week Jackie and I found ourselves packing our bags from the NY office and made our way to Atlantic City to attend the annual American Camp Association Tri-State Conference. It was a three day event of gathering, learning, and networking, all with the intentional purpose of sharing ideas, wisdom and experience among camp professionals and industry experts. Now back in the comfort of our Long Island office, we already can’t wait to apply this garnered insight to help refine and grow our programs and company culture, all to the benefit of our families.

In a matter of three days, we attended numerous informational sessions on varying topics as well as discussion-based forums.

We met so many amazing exhibitors and learned of their fascinating products. If only we could take Joshua the snake on one of our programs…

Ryan’s Takeaway

I learned…

– Of simple, although critical, mistakes that can prevent me from sincerely dialing in on a prospective camper family’s core interests and concerns.
– The true content that families are more intimately interested in reading and receiving from our promotions and social media.
– That simply a group of fun-loving folks with a deck of cards commanding you to perform four jovial actions can make for the most fun 3 minutes of your life. Happy Salmon! Happy Salmon! Happy Salmon!

– The understated importance of guiding introverted campers in a world where extroverts have a tendency to reign freely.
– That the best way to impress Sail Caribbean outsiders is with a concerted focus on delivering stories, expectations, relationships, visuals and experience.
– Of year-round efforts to implement in order to strengthen the many incredible relationships we already hold with our alumni families.
– The importance and value in being able to develop a magical camp narrative.
– To broaden my understanding of the impact of digital media and technology (or lack thereof on our trips!) on young individuals.

Among anything else, I felt invigorated by the conference’s spirit and the overlying belief among all in attendance that summer camp is and always will be a right, not a privilege, for every child. I find myself luckier and luckier to be a part of what is the best, and most definitely the cheeriest, industry of them all.

Winter Storm Stella couldn’t keep us from getting our toes in the sand!

Jackie’s Takeaway

I learned…

– That you can incorporate procedures and best practices from almost any industry and somehow tie that into camp culture/atmosphere.
– That not all drama is necessarily bad drama, and even creates a feeling of awe at times.
– I too participated in Happy Salmon! And, Ryan is absolutely correct in saying that it is the most fun 3 minutes of your life!
– That sacrificing just a little bit of personal time could make for a lifetime of difference to others.
– That there are many different people in this world and creating rapport is not always easy, but can be done with various methods. (I think I have this one in the bag!).

– How to be more focused and efficient during my work day and not to become a victim of circumstance. (This is what I’m most excited to implement.)
– That you can’t always look at things subjectively, and as hard as it may seem at the time, you must use your objective eye at times when it’s easy to go with the status quo.
– That even though we need to, and we all do, take our jobs very seriously, this is camp and at the end of the day you want to create a memorable experience for everyone so we need get dirty and have some fun!
– That everyone has a story to tell, and they would be more than happy to open up to you if you just ask the difficult, often tough, questions rather than just trying to make small talk.

I feel myself at home among these camp professionals; everyone is so warm and welcoming and eager to share their stories, of both success and failure, so that you can make improvements utilizing their huge pool of experience. Meeting and talking to people of all ages and degrees of expertise is near-and-dear to me and I feel so revitalized after Tri-State every year. I am anxious to put what we’ve learned into practice.