Bridges, Culverts, and Fords: A Ditch in Time — Reprised!

In my November/December 2011 column, we looked at roadway drainage, focusing mostly on how water gets from the road surface and then how it’s conveyed in ditches parallel to the roadway. Since we only brushed the surface on how water gets from one side of the road to the other, a more detailed look at that is in order.

Building Principles: Wastewater Treatment — A Primer

Over the years, we’ve peeked at some of the components to wastewater treatment, but we’ve never really taken the process apart to help explain what is really happening and what the objectives are. Shout for joy and dance a jig, because that time is now! No. Really! This is great stuff, and I promise to keep it clean.

Building Principles: Wisdom Overhead

American poet and diplomat James Russell Lowell is quoted as saying, “Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.” Beyond politics, that’s an exceptional concept and a worthy approach to many facilities topics. Even more to the point this month, it’s also been said that without a weather-tight roof, everything beneath is in jeopardy.

Kinder, Gentler, Softer Water

“Hey Culligan Man!”® For years growing up, the brassy, obnoxious holler would sound over radio and TV at least once a day. Growing up in suburban Pittsburgh, PA, we were bombarded daily with ads from outfits who wanted to treat our water. My dad was a pretty basic kind of guy who dismissed these wholesale as a lot of advertising hype looking to separate him from his hard-earned money. Even after I became an engineer, I didn’t have a very positive impression of the industry as I was working hard to help municipal treatment plants deliver safe, clean potable water to their customers.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

In May 1971, the Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" peaked at number eighteen on the rock and pop charts. For the unfamiliar, it's about excluding others through signs like job descriptions that refer to applicants' appearance or prohibiting trespassing. And while laws have changed with the times, signs still set the tone for the impressions that people build. In this column, we're going to look at how signs to, at, and around camp can improve the experience of your neighbors, visitors, camp families, and staff.

Your Field of Dreams?

There is no "great camp" without "great programming." And while there are many great programs that require almost no facility support at all (what do you really need for a campfire sing-along?), the right property improvements can surely enhance campers' experiences. Yet far too often, those supporting facilities — even very fancy and expensive ones — seem mismatched to the programs that they're intended to support. Too large, too small, too sophisticated, and even too remote are all descriptions of fields, buildings, and activity areas that simply do not match the programs that they host.

Building Principles: Money for Nothing (with Thanks to Dire Straights)

I don't know anyone, within or outside of camp, who isn't looking for ways to improve their cash flow either by cutting costs or growing their income. Operationally, there are lots of places to look for savings, including equipment leases and rentals and service agreements, among others. This is certainly the time to consider slaying the age-old sacred cow of how you've "always done things." People are creatures of habit and are generally reluctant to rock that particular boat since it's worked before.

The More Things Change . . . The More They Stay the Same

Wow. One hundred and fifty years of organized camping! What an amazing milestone! I don't think that it's too much of a stretch that simply having survived one hundred and fifty years is testament to the intrinsic worth of the programs, opportunities, and growth that is the camp experience. What an ideal opportunity, then, for us to look at some of the facilities that have supported the mainstays of camp over that century and a half.

“Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime . . . ”

"My sometime is now," the tune continues. In 1964, crooner Dean Martin knocked the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" from their number one pop chart perch with that bit of wisdom. Almost fifty years later, it still rings true. In workshops and articles, I've said that relationships with consultants are marriages of convenience. The successful ones have many of the same phases and facets, including courting, sharing of private information, and cooperation.

We Want to Be Green (. . . But We’re Mired in a Swamp!)

What's stopping your camp from improving its existing programs or introducing new ones? At the same time, what's standing between your organization and "going green?" Each to its own extent, cost, culture, and commitment drive the decisions that shape camp whether you're considering programs, facilities, administration, or being greener. This month we're going to see that camps can tackle green initiatives the very same way that they've overcome program obstacles for years and years and years.