Contingency Planning Framework for Camps

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While news changes daily and all our lives continue to be significantly impacted by current measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, the American Camp Association continues to be optimistic that there will be camp this summer, in one form or another. While it is hard to know what that might look like at this point, we are confident that camp experiences are likely to be more critical in the social and emotional development of children than they have ever been before.

One thing is certain, however, and that is that things will be different, no matter the length of your summer programs. While it may be too soon to finalize details around health screenings or program modifications, now is the time for robust business planning for a variety of possibilities.

From a business perspective, cash is the central consideration for contingency planning. Assessing your camp’s cash position is an important first step. At its highest level, contingency planning is then simply calculating how many months you can continue operations with this cash and making adjustments based on different scenarios.

With that in mind, the following Contingency Planning Framework Chart is designed to help you think through the variables that need to be adjusted given different program landscapes, including program considerations, revenue implications, managing expenses, and planning for a variety of what-ifs. As you make individual decisions about program details, always consider how they impact your current cash position.

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Limited Spring Season, Full Summer

Program Considerations

  • Determine what programs can run concurrently
  • Determine if any spring programs be rescheduled for the fall
  • Decide if any programs can be run virtually
  • Establish timelines for decision-making
  • Identify key stakeholders for communication

Revenue Implications

  • Focus on flexibility and customer service to maintain loyalty to camp
  • Incentivize groups to reschedule rather than cancel

Expenses Management

  • Adjust seasonal staffing as necessary
  • Reduce high-expense program components
  • Consider delaying capital projects

Contingency Management

  • Clear communication with spring campers and groups
  • Frequent communication with summer campers and staff
  • Calculate net impact on annual budget
  • Identify funding sources for gap (reserves, donations, line of credit, Fed. Relief program, loans)
     

No Spring Season, Full Summer

Program Considerations

  • Determine if any spring programs be rescheduled for the fall
  • Decide if any programs can be run virtually
  • Identify seasonal staff needs
  • Establish timelines for decision-making
  • Identify key stakeholders for communication

Revenue Implications

  • Focus on flexibility and customer service to maintain loyalty to camp
  • Incentivize groups to reschedule rather than cancel

Expenses Management

  • Adjust seasonal staffing as necessary
  • Delay equipment purchases for summer season
  • Reduce high expense program components
  • Delay purchase of new systems or equipment
  • Consider delaying capital projects

Contingency Management

  • Calculate net impact on annual budget
  • Identify funding sources for gap (reserves, line of credit)
  • Consider emergency funding (Fed. Relief program, loans, philanthropic appeal)
  • Frequent communication with summer campers and staff
  • Develop robust protocols for health systems for summer
     

No Spring Season, Modified Summer

Program Considerations

  • Determine if any spring programs be rescheduled for the fall
  • Decide if any programs can be run virtually
  • Identify seasonal staff needs
  • Determine which sessions need to be modified or canceled
  • Establish timelines for decision-making
  • Identify key stakeholders for communication
  • Consider providing virtual camp experiences

Revenue Implications

  • Focus on flexibility and customer service to maintain loyalty to camp
  • Incentivize groups to reschedule rather than cancel
  • Consider best program structure to maximize both campers served and revenue
  • Modify core program to reduce expenses

Expenses Management

  • Adjust seasonal staffing as necessary
  • Reduce equipment purchases  
  • Eliminate high-expense program components
  • Eliminate new equipment and software purchases
  • Delay capital projects
  • Evaluate full-time staff levels

Contingency Management

  • Calculate net impact on annual budget
  • Maximize funding sources for gap (reserves, line of credit)
  • Consider emergency funding (Fed. Relief program, loans, philanthropic appeal)
  • Frequent communication with summer campers and staff
  • Develop robust protocols for health systems for summer
     

No Spring Season, No Summer

Program Considerations

  • Consider remote camp experiences that can be offered
  • Consider mini-camp experiences that can be offered in the fall or winter
  • Establish timelines for decision-making
  • Identify key stakeholders for communication
  • Consider providing virtual camp experiences

Revenue Implications

  • Focus on flexibility and customer service to maintain loyalty to camp
  • Determine what programs can be added to a fall or winter season
  • Determine what disaster relief options are available (insurance, Federal, State)
  • Consider a philanthropic campaign to support camp through the crisis

Expenses Management

  • Eliminate summer staff
  • Eliminate as many variable costs as possible (food, equipment, supplies)
  • Eliminate nonessential expenses
  • Eliminate capital projects
  • Review full-time staff levels

Contingency Management

  • Calculate minimum cash burn rate for lost seasons
  • Maximize funding sources for gap (reserves, line of credit)
  • Maximize emergency funding (Fed. Relief program, loans, philanthropic appeal)
  • Frequent communication with summer campers and staff
     

 

Even in a best-case scenario, we can be confident that certain policies and practices will be necessarily impacted for this summer. Those include practices such as:

  • Which campers with medical issues will be a concern for the summer
  • Communication plans with your local health department
  • Partnership with your local healthcare providers
  • Information requested on camp health forms
  • Procedures for medical checks upon intake this summer
  • Medical staffing for the summer
  • Camp health management protocols and standing orders

Through all this planning, it is critical that you clearly communicate with all key stakeholders — including campers, parents, staff, donors, and your broader camp community — regarding your program or process changes. In any scenario, you know that when camp does open, you will likely be amending your intake health screenings and your health management process for campers and staff. Let your camp families know that you are working diligently to make the appropriate adjustments to provide a safe and healthy program. Communicate the dates of key decision points and that you will share those decisions with them in a timely manner.

And stay up to date with the most recent information concerning coronavirus and camp through ACA’s COVID-19 — Resource Center for Camps.

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