There are tons of great camp management software choices out there, it can be hard to choose one and quite frankly, overwhelming to figure out what your camp might need from a camp management software. What are the best features that will address the most common camp issues? What challenges is your camp facing and which software will solve most, if not all, of your problems?
Software should be seen as a solution to a specific set of issues you are encountering. There is definitely no one size fits all camp management software for every camp. This post will explore how you can evaluate your own camp and decide what you need most from a software as well as provide the main issues camps face and what solutions to look for when shopping around for a software.
Common Camp Problems That Software Can Solve
Problem #1 Too much time spent sending out emails to campers and parents.
For any camp, sending out emails can be a huge time suck. Email is your primary method of communication during registration – incomplete applications, reminders to pay, answering questions from parents about camp, forms, etc.
One of the main motivators to get a quality camp management software is to automate as much of your email communication as possible. This means finding a software allows you the flexibility to set triggers, filter through applicants and send the right messages only to the those who need to receive it. With so many different variables, having a communication system that will allow you to adapt it to your specific camp’s needs is priceless.
Look for a software that auto populates information into your emails. This means the emails are personal without you needing to write each and every one. The basic is that the email will say something like “Hi Joe!” for Joe and “Hi Sam” for Sam, from there you can get really fancy with the correct tools. Checkout this post that sums up everything you can do with a good bulk emailing system. A powerful filtering tool is a must in order to achieve true automation. If you want to send specific and effective emails to the right people, you should be able to filter as specifically as possible who you want to send what messages to. The idea behind automating communication is to save you time, and net you more completed applications and on time payments.
Problem #2 Parents spending too long on registration, especially if they have more than 1 child attending.
This is where a software that offers family registration comes in! Especially for camps, family registration is a really important feature that will please your families! No parent, or anyone really, loves to fill out forms (not even me and I work at Regpack!). Why make a parent with 2 kids, 3 kids, or gasp, 5 kids work any harder than another parent with less. The key to your registration process should be to make it as easy and as quick as possible. The general information should be entered once and the specific information for each child should be then entered for each child. Make sure your parents do not input information twice! It is annoying, time consuming and reflects bad on you.
Family registration allows a parent to easily and quickly register all of their kids for your camp. The common information auto populates itself (parent names, address, etc) so registration for multiple kids is a breeze.
Problem #3 Returning campers from previous years need to fill out everything again when they should only fill out some of it
This is a good problem to have… Returning clients 🙂
That said it can be very annoying to enter the same information you entered last year again and again (all the more so if you do not have a quick and easy online family camp registration option). The solution is to auto populate the information from last year again obviously. Sounds easy right? Wrong! The problem is that there is specific information that you want to populate whereas other information that you want them to fill out again.
For Example: you need them to fill out the medical form again since there is a very good chance that they will miss something if it just auto populates and you do not want to be in a situation that you do not know about a new condition of one of the kids. You need a system that will allow you to set what is auto populated and what is not. That way you have full control over the information and you are ensuring that you are getting the most up to date info for the info that means the most to you.
Another great thing about combining the family registration option with the auto populating is that it can net you more campers! How? Since when a family returns you can just automatically add all the children they had last year in the camp to the registration. That will remind the parents about the fact that they can have all the kids at one camp they will enjoy!
Problem #4 Keeping track of hundreds of campers and their information, as well as making sure all staff have the info they need!
Reporting tools are something to really think about and consider when looking at camp management software options. Think first about what kind of reporting you need, how your reporting now works well for you, and what you wish you had to make it even better.
Having hundreds of campers is a lot of information to manage and a subpar reporting system with whatever data management you are currently using can fall short in making the admin side of camp life easier. Again, a software with a quality filter tool will improve your reporting ten fold. Filter anything you want and need to create custom reports for anyone on your team – counselors, the accountant, even the cook! A good filtering system will keep you organized and allow you to manage all of your information optimally.
Problem #5 Payments, both receiving and invoicing, are a mess!
Payments are a big deal. Getting paid on time is always nice and in many cases, kind of necessary for cash flow. A camp management software that includes a safe and secure payment solution is, in my opinion, the only way to go. Sending someone to a separate, 3rd party site for payment or accepting checks in the mail (a filing and admin nightmare waiting to happen) is just bad business in today’s world. A fancy registration system will allow you to easily show each user what they owe and offering them the ability to pay right then and there is guaranteed to net you more on time, or even early, payments.
A system, as I discussed above, with a good automated email set-up will take care of invoicing emails as well as payment reminder emails. This right here is how a camp management software can truly save you time and is a key feature for what to look for in camp management software.
The software you should, I think, allow you to offer payment plans, schedule payments in advance, offer multiple payment options (e-check, credit cards, etc) and send out great invoice and reminder emails populated with accurate, up to date and personalized information. Anything less isn’t really worth your time or money.
There are tons of camp management softwares out there and they are all pretty great. But which one is the greatest for YOU?
Sit down and really evaluate your process and what your needs are. Then what would you love from a registration software (needs of course, but also wants and ‘would be nices’). Prioritize your list and first look at software options that tick all your *need* boxes. In general, most camps should look for a software that:
- Offers family registration.
- Automates emails and allows for triggered email setup.
- Flexibility in form creation.
- Integrated payment solution.
- Scheduled payments and payment plan options.