As I write this eNewsletter entry, many of you are now halfway through the 2011 camp season. Depending on where you are, this season has been either: wetter, drier, hotter, or (in a few cases) cooler than last year. The campers are: louder, quieter, more energetic, or (in VERY few cases) more laid back than last year. Returning campers have renewed friendships as if the intervening ten months never occurred, and seeing how the campers have reacted to this new season provides justification for even your most challenging day since last fall. It really is worth it!
I've spent much of the last couple of weeks visiting camps. My visits have taken me from coast to coast and I've been overwhelmingly captivated by the campers. They are having the summer of their lives and it shows in everything they do. But I have also been overwhelmingly impressed by you, the professional and lay leaders of nonprofit Jewish overnight camps. At each camp I have visited, the recurring theme has been, "Let me show you what's new since last year and what we have planned for the future." Even with the backdrop of campers playing soccer or Frisbee golf, swimming or boating or doing crafts, your attention to the long term goals of the camp remains active on your "to do" list. Elements of the strategic plans you have developed are now beginning to take shape, and the commitment to progress has become infectious (probably a bad word choice during camp season).
In addition to seeing the physical changes to the camps, I've also heard a commonality of language among camp leaders that I doubt I would have heard seven or even five years ago. Words such as: "ask, Legacy Gift, endowment, and fundraising opportunities" are now an active part of your everyday vocabulary (or at least the everyday conversations you have with me). The importance of revitalizing your facilities and developing a sustainable financial base for operations is clearly now part of the culture of our camp network. My visits and discussions with you have made it apparent that the task of operating a camp requires the highest level of professionalism from all those involved.
As we enter the second half of the 2011 camp season, I want to use this space to thank those camp staff and board members who have taken or will take time out of your busy schedules to host a visit from someone from the Grinspoon Institute. It's the combination of seeing the joy of campers and hearing the messages of camp lay and professional leaders that keep the Grinspoon Institute focused on our mission of helping you make Jewish camp more successful every year.
|By Mark Shapiro|
Executive Director, Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center
Steve and Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC's work with the Grinspoon Institute has transformed how we think about our work; we now think of ourselves as a business with the charge of preserving the camp and its impact for future generations. Harold's vision is his greatest gift to camp. His financial donations alone are helpful, but the time and expertise of the Grinspoon Institute Mentors has allowed us to make a permanent transformation in our culture of strategic planning and fundraising.
We are currently in the midst of a $5M Capital Campaign. With the help of our mentor, David Sharken, we realize we can raise this money; we can ask people to commit to the future of camp and to preserve what camp has been offering generations of children. We also have a detailed facilities and long-range strategic plan to ensure we are raising money on the most important priorities for camp. Phase I of construction begins with the building of a new pool on September 1, 2011. Other facilities will follow, including a new office and welcome center; new gym; renovated amphitheater; and other new and renovated buildings throughout camp.
Our dedicated staff and lay leadership - with the assistance of David and the Grinspoon Institute - have:
- Created a strategic plan and are holding ourselves accountable to it.
- Changed our governance structures to be more effective and sustainable.
- Embraced a culture of philanthropy at camp.
We continue to learn and improve each day. But we know that our long-range planning and willingness to share the opportunity to invest in Steve and Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC will allow us to preserve camp and what it offers for generations to come.
To help you begin to make the Switch and use your donor database more effectively, Technology Program Manager Kevin Martone will be offering Donor Database Office Hours on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 1 PM EDT. Kevin will be available online via Webinar the whole hour (he will stay longer if requested) to answer your donor database questions and show you how to use your database more effectively. Bring one thing you'd like to learn to do better in your database, learn about it, and then implement it. Or just come and listen to the questions from your peers - you are sure to learn something new.
Feel free to drop in to this month's webinar whether you have a specific question or not. Kevin will prepare some donor database tips to show in addition to the questions from participants.
Register today for our Donor Database Office Hours.