March 23, 2020
Dear CODA Member,
I hope everyone is doing as well as they can be during this time in our history. As the predictions are still changing literally every hour, there’s still no definite answer as to the outcome of this pandemic. While we are trying to continue planning for our summer, we still need to consider contingency plans for numerous questions we do not know the answers to yet. During all this, we still have to take care of the relationships we have with our camp families.
This can be done by continuing the communication with your camp parents. They know we, like the rest of our country, have no definite answer yet. They also need to know we are working on all possible outcomes to ensure camp will be a safe place for their campers and we are still making plans to have camp this summer. In your communication, it’s important to realize there are 2 sets of camp families. One set of parents who’s children have already attended camp and know the benefits of what we have to offer and another set that will be attending camp for the very first time and have yet to enjoy and fully understand the developmental benefits of camp.
During this time you will surely be getting calls (if you haven’t already) asking about the summer possibilities, camp cancelation, camper cancelation as well as refunds. Its important to remember that our business is just like camp itself. Its not about the activities we have at our camps, its about the relationships the campers build with one another and our relationships and trust we’ve built with our camp families. We need to do everything in our capabilities to try and find a win-win situation no matter what the outcome of the summer is. Again, this largely goes back to how we communicate with or camp families.
Unfortunately, as business owner, we do need to be thinking about all possible outcomes. In the event that camps can’t open this summer and if the majority of parents request a refund (other than roll over tuition to 2021- and there are income problems with that answer as well) there are some options for camps we want to make sure you are aware of. One is the Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan. There are several criteria that must be met for your camp to become eligible for this low interest / longterm loan. You can read about that option below.
Another option that could go into effect as early as today is Sen. Mark Rubio’s Small Business Relief Plan. As of the time I’m writing this it is expected to go to a vote sometime later today. His plan would assist small business (under 500 employees) in keeping their employees paid during the next couple months. If that passes and there is information available, we’ll get it to you as quickly as possible.
Lastly, there are strong groups of camp professionals on social media and like the family industry we are, camps are sharing ideas freely to help one another through these unprecedented times.
We all hope and pray that it doesn’t come to this and encourage camps to hang on as long as they can before they make season long decisions. There seems to be at least some positive outcomes from the experimental drugs our country is working on. I, like you, am hoping things will take positive turn sooner rather than later. There’s still a lot of information coming out every day and every day seems to have us wanting to believe something new.
There are several things I do believe. I believe we (the camping industry) will keep staying positive and helping to uplift those around us. I believe camps can directly impact their communities by donating any food already purchased, to schools or community centers in their area. I believe even though camp hasn’t started yet, our parents are looking for us to provide reassurance to their families as well as “camp activity” ideas to help them during this time of “social distancing”. Finally, I believe we will come through this, one way or another, as a pillar of strength for our campers and their futures.
Thank you and good luck , we’re all in the same boat, keep your nose to the grind stone and keep camping on!!