This year I had the opportunity to go the Christian Camping International conference in Banff. Overall, it was an amazing experience. Simply being able to fellowship with others doing the same job and who have had a lot of the same experiences is so encouraging. It also doesn’t hurt that Banff is an incredibly beautiful place and it made for a very refreshing time away from camp. There were two seminars in particular that I found extremely helpful in planning for next summer.
The first session was about customer service. While it’s odd to think about the campers and staff who come to Beacon as “guests” or “customers” when so often they are long-time friends and family. I think it’s important to remember that the full-time staff are here to serve everyone who comes to camp. The seminar provided great resources for anticipating the expectations that people have when coming to camp. It raised thought-provoking questions about my areas of responsibility at camp and what my standards are for those areas. The question on my mind was “What I can do better to make each person’s experience one that they will remember for years to come?”
The second session that ended up being very practical was about dietary needs. As dietary restrictions become more prevalent, it’s important to me to determine how to deal with them. If you’ve ever volunteered in the kitchen, you know what it takes to be constantly aware of allergies and restrictions. As the person responsible for the menu, I don’t want to prevent anyone from coming to camp because of their dietary needs. We talked a lot about how the kitchen is a ministry and the tools needed to provide for the people to whom we’re ministering. The seminar provided a number of strategies on how to accommodate dietary restrictions based on each camp’s resources. We may not be able to fit each individual’s ideal for what camp food should be, but we can take steps towards making camp accessible to those who might have never had the opportunity to come previously.
In the end, I was so excited to hear from people who have so many years of camp experience and be able to apply it to my planning for next year. It was a great time to reflect and be refreshed for the coming season.