10 Easy and Free Ways Alumni Can Support Camp During the School Year

10. Always have a supply of camp brochures on hand. 

Be sure to give them out when you see any friends who are parents or any kids in your life.  Explain to them how camp changed your life, and tell them you’d love for them to have the same experience.  Leave them on information tables or displays at your place of worship, local school, community center and anywhere else you can think of!

9.  Always have a supply of the camp director’s business cards or, better yet, a staff recruitment flyer for the camp on hand. 

You need about 100 of these.  Stat.

You need about 100 of these.  Stat.

When you meet a person you think could be a great camp staff member—whether that’s your neighbor’s grandson who always comes over to mow the lawn or the friendliest ice cream scooper at the neighborhood shop, tell them about working at camp and hand them a card.  Invite them to apply.

8.  Clean your house and gather items in good or excellent condition that would help camp.

If you can part with them......

If you can part with them......

Generally helpful things include: sleeping bags, magazines used for collage (like National Geographic), age-appropriate books, quality art supplies and costumes.  Generally unhelpful things include: boats that sink and extra copies of 50 Shades of Grey (true stories).

7. Be sure to “follow” your camp on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

When the camp makes a post, be sure to like or love it.   On Facebook, share!  On Twitter, re-tweet!

6. Go through your old camp photos and share them with camp. 

If they’re printed photos, scan the best ones.  Label each with the year and the people in the photos, then digitally send to the camp office for their archives.

5.  Once you have those photos scanned, also upload a few to Facebook or your social media of choice. 

Or, just use Facebook's convenient "Memories" function.  Tag your fellow alumni and go crazy reminiscing about your {appropriate} memories in the comments. 

4. Write, video-record or audio-record your “camp story”.

Oh, there are stories to tell!!

Oh, there are stories to tell!!

It doesn't have to be fancy--just honest and heartfelt! Send it to the camp office for their historical records.

3. When you travel, wear your camp gear.

Camp Hayo-Went-Ha  does a great job of posting alumni travel photos!

Camp Hayo-Went-Ha does a great job of posting alumni travel photos!

Take a picture of yourself in front of a landmark in your camp shirt, and send it to the camp office.  They’d love to post it on their social media or in their newsletter.  You also never know what other camp alumni you will see in airports or places around the world!

2.  Write online reviews for your camp. 

Here's a good place to start: Google your camp’s name.  Summarized information about the camp should come up on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down past the basic information about the camp, and click the grey box that says “Write a review.”  Hopefully you’re feelin’ the five-star option.  Also post your review on other sites like Facebook and Yelp!

1.  Send the year-round camp team a thank-you note (and, maybe some cookies). 

Tell them thanks for all that they do—all 12 months of the year!

Got more ideas?  Please leave them in the comments.  Camp alumni rule!

The Best Questions get the Best Answers

“How has camp changed your life?” 

OK, it’s a powerful question.  I could answer that in many, many ways.  I'm sure you could, too.

If you ask this question to a camper, staff member or alum, you might get a great answer immediately--in journalism school, we had a professor who would call this good fortune a "dial-a-quote" situation.

However, dial-a-quotes are exceedingly rare.  It would be foolish for us to rely on one or two simple questions and and expect to elicit the best answers.  To get the best answers, we must be prepared with the best questions.

So, going into end-of-year appeals and the fast-approaching Annual Campaign season for all of you YMCA kids, here’s a short list of powerful questions you can ask members of your camp family to elicit those deep, expressive, mission-advancing answers (oh, and make sure you are videotaping or taking notes or something so you don't miss the answers!):

What is something you learned about yourself at camp?

Talk about a relationship you built with someone at camp or because of camp.

Who is someone you look up to or looked up to at camp?  Why?

What is a lesson you learned at camp?

Talk about a time you overcame a major challenge or obstacle at camp.

Describe a time you changed your mind about something due to an experience you had at camp.

What is something about camp that your “outside” friends do not understand?

Talk about a time at camp when you felt like you were the best version of yourself.

How has something you learned at camp helped you in your outside life?

What is something about you that you do or believe because of camp?

And, at the end of ANY interview, whether for the NY Times or for your camp newsletter...always ask the following two questions:

1. Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you wanted to talk about?

**This is where I find that I get the best answers.  Make sure the tape is still rolling.  When subjects relax, that's when they truly tell you what they think.

2. Could you please confirm the spelling of your name?

For another day, we can talk about once you do with this great information once you collect it.  Until then, here's a favorite example of a YouTube Channel for McGaw YMCA Camp Echo and their series "Camp Echo Stories".

What are some of your favorite questions?  Add them in the comments.