for this assignment you are a camp director for kids. answer question #1 respond with 300 words .


Assignment below answer question # 1

Rate Your Financial Position

If you were to rate your camp’s financial position on a scale of 1 to 10 are you closer to growth and development or survival and maintenance?

Growth and Development Illus

Based on where you are on your scale answer #1 questions :

  1. If you are between 8 and 10, do you have a Strategic Plan that was completed or updated in the last three years? If so, have you read it and how is it effecting your financial planning? If not, what do you need to do to encourage the completion of a Strategic Plan?

resources attached :

Basic Steps in Strategic Planning

September 2004

Someone reminded me recently that “it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark!” At a time when management gurus echo the phrase, “out of crisis comes opportunity,” it is indeed refreshing to contemplate camp planning sans pending disaster! In this context, we are free to think about planning as “invitational” — enhancing our camp communities to serve children and adults better. It is a process that invigorates rather than exhausts participants and brings about a greater sense of harmony and commitment to camp’s mission.

A Brief History

Planning is not a new phenomenon. It has roots in military history. The Greek word stratego means “to plan the destruction of one’s enemies.” What remains today are the key words “to plan.” By most measurements, strategic planning is a set of processes used in an organization to understand the present situation and develop decision-making guidelines for the future of the organization. The process usually includes the concept of mission and vision in the definition. These are linked to organizational objectives, implementing strategies and measuring outcomes.

Organizations throughout the country began applying strategic planning in the 1940s, and by the 1960s, the business sector had embraced the merits of strategic planning to assist in programming and budgeting. For many camps, this was not the case. During the 1960s and 70s, camps had seasoned executive directors who provided singular leadership — supported by philanthropic boards and a well-established and growing market for boys and girls. Many camp facilities accommodated one to three seasons of human use — with occasional woodsy critters occupying cabins in the “off season.” During this era, decisions regarding next year’s camper program were mostly “linear.” Programming and expectations remained fairly constant from year to year. Campers were recruited to a traditional set of camp programs allowing most camps to meet with success.

Operational Planning Is Not Strategic Planning
Camps typically have a lengthy list of operational goals — cabin and washhouse upgrades, expanded tripping, dining hall renovation — all represent work elements that are usually accomplished in one year or less. They are considered operational in nature and do not reflect the overall mission.

In contrast, a strategic plan reflects fundamental choices about mission and overall direction — and offers a vision of the camp’s future. A good strategic plan provides clarity for those annual operational tasks and “alignment” with the more global planning goals.

Good Planning Offers You a Roadmap

Today’s high-tech GPS systems offer a road map with step-by-step directions assembled once a starting point and destination have been determined. Camp planners need only to articulate the starting point and the “destination” to begin the planning journey. In my experience good camp planning focuses twenty-four to thirty-six months into the future. This timeframe allows flexibility in the highly competitive market of today’s camp industry.

Camp tradition has historically been a powerful force for many camps. The challenge today is to provide programming that children and their parents find relevant in our society. Singular focus camps abound. From academic to fine arts to athletics, children have a plethora of choices. These camps have grown at the expense of more traditional camps. Therefore, planning is critical if traditional camps are to survive.

Let’s focus on five planning principles:

  1. A timeline of between twenty-four and thirty-six months
  2. A one-page “dashboard” summary
  3. A link to key constituent groups
  4. An annual review of the plan
  5. An incentive plan for outcome achievement

The Timeline
The recommended timeline of twenty-four to thirty-six months allows an organization sufficient time to accomplish key priorities without losing touch with the dynamics of the marketplace. A concentrated period of between sixty and ninety days is all that is needed to bring your plan to fruition.

The best time to initiate the planning cycle is on the heels of your summer sessions. At this time, you can focus and reflect on your future. The plan you create can then be aligned with the budget process for the next calendar year.

A One-Page “Dashboard”
In developing an updated strategic plan for an organization recently, the format we devised was a one-page view of the organization’s plan that we called a “dashboard.” This concise document included the organization’s mission, vision, values, pillars of excellence, and major initiatives. There was one major initiative for each pillar. The result was a plan for their Web site, annual report, and other key documents that was easily understood and eye catching.

A Link with Key Constituent Groups
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions,” writes Ken Blanchard in The One Minute Manager. As you develop your planning process, keep in mind the broad spectrum of constituents. A typical camp organization will have a long and diverse list of stakeholders — they include campers, their families, board members/donors, the management team, seasonal and year-round staff, alumni, neighbors, volunteers, and others. Be creative in offering forums for dialog with these groups as your plan is being developed.

For example, there are camps that connect with their counselor constituent group using Web site chat rooms sponsored by the camp, mini-retreats, informal holiday gatherings, and formal planning sessions. The goal is to get ideas — lots of ideas! The Hallmark Corporation brings their staff of over 700 together annually to dialog with invited guests. In addition to the staff, those invited include poets, storytellers, scientists, and artists. The result of this interaction has generated more than 15,000 original card designs.

Camps need to sponsor, within the strategic planning process, “safe” environments for stakeholders to share ideas, raise issues, and challenge the status quo. Outside resources brought into the organization bring with them relevant ideas, best practices, and camp- related research to stimulate consideration of new and innovative activities.

You may be surprised at the breadth of your influence. When a camp made the decision to change their sequence and frequency of the ringing of the “camp bell” during summer sessions, it unexpectedly received negative feedback from the surrounding property owners — who used the bell ringing as a reference point for their daily activity!

An Annual Revision and Review
Albert Einstein was once questioned by a graduate assistant as to why he used the same questions on his exams year after year. His response was that while the questions were the same, the correct answers changed based on new available information! The relevant data sets and market forces on which you built your planning assumptions are not standing still! Monitor your progress — make adjustments along the way, keeping an eye on your mission, vision, and values as reference points. Apply the management tenet that “information is your main competitive advantage and flexibility your main weapon.”

There are instances, however, in which organizations become so fixed on their strategic initiatives that they are unresponsive to needed “course corrections.” As an example, since 9/11, parents have become highly sensitized to the “safety factor” for their children while absent from the home environment. Camps need to address this issue directly in their marketing and implementation strategies. Allaying parent and camper fears may be the most important first step in attracting campers in today’s world.

There may be times when your strategic plan may need to be temporarily put aside. Should a crisis arise, such as a cash-flow problem or the departure of key staff, it is prudent to turn your attention to the issue at hand. The plan can always be put back on track with timeline revisions and other modifications.

Stakeholder Rewards for Desired Outcomes
Strategic initiatives must be realistic and attainable. The camp director should set performance goals that tie directly to the plan outcomes. Governing boards need to support the director by allocating necessary resources and by assisting in overcoming barriers to achieving planned outcomes. Tying compensation of the director to strategic and operational performance objectives is a growing trend. Keep in mind that the CEO is the architect of organizational performance. It is the role of the board to establish policies to guide, direct, and assess organizational performance.

Getting Started

Managing a successful camp today requires significant technical knowledge, skills, and a physical environment to accommodate a diversity of campers of varying size and capability. An illustration of this is the vast number and diversity of educational session offerings at ACA national conferences. However, all of this knowledge must be integrated in the planning process without “bogging down” the planning process — all the more reason to keep the planning process simple. Three elements to help you get started are:

  1. Get organized. Determine what groups will be involved, outline your planning steps, and obtain commitment to proceed with the planning process.
  2. Take inventory of your assets. This involves a review of camp history and all of the components of the internal and external environment.
  3. Set the direction. Ask leaders to determine the best possible direction for the future of camp. It is important not to let the realities limit the vision — instead you raise your “reality” in the direction of your camp vision, one step at a time.

Basic Steps in Strategic Planning

Remember that “less is more” when it comes to constructing organizational plans. The work elements of strategic planning can be synthesized into four steps.

  1. Conduct a brief assessment of your camp’s current business using a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Discuss your culture from a board, management, staff, and customer perspective using objective data. These will include key benchmarks for the camp industry. (Also, a growing body of research on camp performance exists that can be helpful in this process.)
  2. Create a future image of your camp. Create several “blueprints” making distinctly diverse assumptions. In each case, you address the question of “what can we do to ensure that our camp is indispensable and recognized as a leader?” Remember that being “unique” is not necessarily a leading attribute and can leave your camp with a shrinking marketplace as trends change. Instead, look to deliver a premier set of core programs that will be indispensable over time to your customers. Strategic thinking begins with top management but should quickly flow to other stakeholder groups within your camp community. The best results of strategic thinking are generated from a team!
  3. Establish goals and objectives. Based on the strategic profile gathered from creating your image, you are now ready to establish a set of goals and objectives which are realistic and attainable. Be sure that your goals are important to your stakeholders. Be sure there are measurable outcomes associated with each goal that allow you to document your progress.
  4. Identify three to five initiatives for implementation. The final stage identifies the most critical issues or choices facing your organization. The question you need to answer is “How do we get there?” It is important to set timelines for each initiative along with the actions that will be required to achieve the objective. It is at this point where decisions are made regarding the allocation of scarce resources. Referring back to the SWOT analysis you conducted in Step One, focus on building your core competencies while reducing or eliminating your weaknesses. Your action plan will identify the desired outcome with target dates and personnel assigned to each activity. Action plans should be flexible to accommodate changes in strategies that are determined to be most effective.

A Word About Motivation and Creativity

Remember that reaching your camp vision is a journey not a destination. The process should be invitational, and in today’s market, you need to be an “ambidextrous” organization. Ambidextrous organizations maintain built-in efficiencies, consistency, and reliability while at the same time promote experimentation, improvisation, and luck.

An effective motivational strategy is known as “skunk works.” In this strategy, small groups explore innovative ideas that are compatible with the camp’s mission. They study and implement pilot projects that could enhance the organization. Within this culture, curiosity should be an institutional attribute!

Creativity is akin to leadership! A successful leader is someone who can persuade people to change their ideas or behavior. Strategic planning is a process that causes us to examine our organization in a new and different way. Encourage your stakeholder groups to apply their “creative juices.” Remember you are trying to do more than just survive. Instead, you are striving to create a sustainable competitive advantage. In a recent article, “Music Director Works to Blend Strength,” in the October 27, 2003, issue of USA Today, Lorin Maazel, music director of the New York Philharmonic, said, “The only way to do that is to know the musical score and understand the problems they (the musicians) will encounter playing it” As camp directors, board members, and staff, we have to know the “score” and anticipate the impediments along the way.

Teachable Moment

Most of us have tucked away in our subconscious minds what the ideal camp experience looks like. Building that image into a well-articulated strategic plan is an achievement of the highest order. We, as camp advocates, are accustomed to providing thousands of “teachable moments” to our campers each year. Let us not forget that teaching is at the heart of leadership, and planning brings out our collective learning capacity.

Strive to make the planning process exciting and invitational. You will discover that not only will participants learn, but they will pass that learning on to others. The process is also highly infectious. Henry David Thoreau wrote in In the Conclusion of Walden: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” Strategic planning offers you the best opportunity to realize unprecedented success. Embrace the process, and experience the fruits of your labors. You will not be disappointed!

Bob Ruch is president of Ruch Enterprises, a management consulting firm that specializes in leadership, organizational transformation, and planning. His client base includes camps, human service agencies, churches, hospitals, and schools with over 200 engagements since founding Ruch Enterprises in 1993. He is an adjunct associate professor at Des Moines University where he teaches “practice management” and “economics.” A former camper and volunteer counselor, Bob currently serves on the Board of Camp Manito-wish YMCA, located in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. He can be reached at 515-276-7262 or at Bobruch@AOL.com.

Originally published in the 2004 September/October issue of Camping Magazine.

Strategic Planning vs Financial Planning

The difference between strategic planning and financial planning is often confusing. On a very basic level it is deciding whether to place the emphasis on growth and development or survival and maintenance. Especially in today’s economy they are both critical and both need to be managed for real success.

A strategic plan is a plan for growth and development. What are the goals and action steps needed to get the changes you want to grow the business and be successful in the future? A common criticism of strategic planning is the speed at which things are changing. We really don’t know what will happen in three to five years. An effective mission-based strategy needs to have vision. The actions prescribed in a multi-year plan should be fluid. They need to be monitored and reevaluated along the way. There are many different directions the camp could go in the next few years. Start with the three most promising efforts, that if funded will really drive growth.

A financial plan is a plan to manage limited resources with priority and ensure survival. You need to pay current expenses and plan to have enough reserves to keep your operation going as it is, address the unanticipated expenses, maintain cash flow and keep your consumers happy.

The financial plan should support the strategic plan but it is not growth? One has to survive to grow, but survival isn’t growth. Most organizations have a difficult time doing much strategically if they become insolvent. Just breaking even is not strategically thinking ahead and predicting where the market is going to go, and deciding what to do, where and when is difficult.

Good financial planning and financial monitoring is vital to support strategic planning and execution. Financial planning becomes a part of the strategic plan when it moves beyond “keeping the program running,” and moves into how does the camp reallocate resources to achieve their strategic initiative? What is the specific approach and why do you think it will make a difference?

Realizing Unprecedented Success: Tools for Optimizing Your Plan

November 2004

Working Your Plan

After outlining the basic elements of a strategic plan and discussing a process that engages your key stakeholder groups, we now concentrate on the tools necessary to assist you in the implementation of your plan. As my father told me, “plan your work and work your plan.” Now it’s time to create a process to “work your plan.”

The critical ingredient in implementing your plan is leadership. As a leader, you need to both give and receive help in the planning process. The planning process begins with the board of directors and is expressed through you as the CEO. The trustees define the camp mission and articulate the values. Your main responsibility is to follow the mission in context of the values. Your behavior determines the degree to which the staff will live the values so you need to be passionate in your work as plan implementer!

The implementation phase of planning is akin to taking a newly created musical score and presenting it to members of your “orchestra.” The musical score (strategic plan) is presented, and rehearsal (implementation) begins. Each musician (staff member) has particular talent and comes to the stage with unique gifts and expectations. Your role as “conductor” is to draw the best from each musician; each musical section (stakeholder groups); and entire orchestra (camp).

Preparing for the Journey

Harlan Cleveland, in an article entitled “Leadership the Get-It-All Together Profession” identifies attitudes indispensable to leaders. The most relevant include:

  • a lively intellectual curiosity
  • a genuine interest in what other people think
  • a feeling of special responsibility for envisioning a future
  • a hunch that most risks are not to be avoided but to be taken
  • a mind-set that crises are normal
  • a realization that paranoia and self-pity are reserved for people who don’t want to be leaders
  • a sense of personal responsibility for the general outcome of your efforts

Use this list of leadership attributes as a template in your work in implementing your strategic plan. Share these attributes widely with others to set the stage for your work and the expectations that lie ahead.

Dealing with Barriers

The journey from point A to point B is never linear. Too many organizations fail to grasp that strategic plan implementation has both up and down cycles. Barriers are those impediments or hurdles that you must tackle in order to meet the goals of your camp plan. Last month’s article made reference to the information dynamic and how information will not stand still while you execute your plan. Shifts in market dynamics, including customer feedback, create barriers to the prescribed plan. Like lowering the water level of a lake, the once smooth shoreline gives way to newly exposed rocks that will be traversed. The rocks were always there but only now become visible!

The key is to anticipate these barriers and forge ahead on your journey. When facing barriers, take the following action steps:

  • Articulate the nature of the barrier, its impact on your plan, and the likely outcome if you choose to ignore the existence of the problem.
  • Generate additional facts and ideas relative to the problem.
  • Examine the problem from several different perspectives including that of the camper, parents, co-worker, or competitors.
  • Be sure to involve key stakeholder groups in exploring solutions. DO NOT minimize the problem to others.
  • Seek outside consultation if needed.

Remember, successful people — and organizations — keep swinging the bat until they make contact. Most camps have a wealth of talent on board and among their staff. Do not hesitate to tap those resources in addressing barriers. Another valued resource is the American Camp Association talent pool along with research material available to member camps.

Strategies for Implementation

The overall goal of plan implementation is to develop and sustain a process of camp programming that reflects your camp values and goals. You will be successful if you stay focused on the future not on the present realities. As Wayne Gretzky, the outstanding hockey player was once quoted as saying, “Most people skate to the puck — I skate to where the puck is going to be.” In order to accomplish this, you need to provide all members of the board and staff with a road map, which is your plan, allowing them to maintain a focused approach.

It’s a human characteristic to feel anxious about the unknowns in the future and mourn the loss of the familiar. Camps are often very adverse to change. You, as a leader, must acknowledge this fact as you set about to institute change. You’ve already created a one-page road map, your “dashboard” containing the mission, vision, values, pillars of excellence, and major initiatives. This is an excellent reference to disseminate widely among camp stakeholder groups. This document is a key building block to your strategic plan initiation.

Let’s look at nine strategies for plan implementation. If you apply these tools, you enhance your role as a leader, actively engage key stakeholder groups in the process, and provide outcomes worthy of your camp’s values. Keep in mind that “creative tension” exists between reality and vision. Your goal is to lift the reality toward the vision. The nine strategies are:

  1. Raise awareness and understanding.
  2. Create a climate for creativity, innovation, and renewal.
  3. Develop cohesiveness among staff.
  4. Gather strategic data.
  5. Adopt a “personalized” plan for achievement.
  6. Design prototypes.
  7. Scan other industries for information and opportunities.
  8. Measure progress regularly.
  9. Apply your power of persuasion.

Raise Awareness and Understanding
Remember that planning is a team sport. It provides you the opportunity to integrate your talent bank of staff, board, campers, and community. You need each other along the way since the planning challenges for today’s camps can be monumental. Unlike the days of old where stability and program maintenance reigned, you are preparing, instead, for rapid change, innovation, cross-functional outcomes, and an entrepreneurial style of operation!

The best tool for raising awareness and understanding is teaching. Good leaders never pass up an opportunity to teach. Turn every interaction with your staff into a learning event. Camp environments, by their very nature, are super-charged learning laboratories. I continue to be astounded to hear, from former campers, of the role camp played in their character development. These values gained at camp have stayed with them for their entire lives.

Create a Climate for Creativity, Innovation, and Renewal
Conventional wisdom can be an important ingredient in camp management. However, if you are going to create a framework for innovative change that meets the needs of a growing diversity of customers, you need to put conventional wisdom aside and develop an environment of creativity, innovation, and renewal. Creative thinking is essential to the future success of any organization and is not a special gift that only some people possess. The essential question is: How can we manage change in a way that is more about sustainable competitive advantage and less about camp survival? In other words, we have to think less about “just getting by” and move toward being “on the cutting edge” of the camp market. Once you have determined what your competitive advantages are, you set about implementing your innovations and camp renewal begins.

Develop Cohesiveness Among Staff
I often conduct group staff interviews for clients as part of the planning process. The purpose is twofold — first, to gain information regarding individual perceptions of the organization and second, to gain insight into the level of cohesiveness on issues between staff. Three useful questions to ask are:

  1. What is it like to be a staff member in this organization?
  2. What is it that people — campers, management, and peers — need most from you?
  3. What is it that you need most from other people to perform your jobs well?

The outcome of these interviews helps identify common goals and team norms and encourages staff to get their cards “on the table.” I am always amazed at the insights of both seasoned and relatively new staff about their organization. Information gleaned from these interviews can assist you in building stronger, more cohesive teams among your staff. It also gives the leader insight into how staff perceptions align with your strategic plan.

Gather Strategic Data
Most organizations gather lots of information. However, that information may not be providing significant value to your camp’s strategic planning efforts. Before embarking on data collection, you must clearly understand the purpose for which the data are collected. Your goal is to collect and evaluate “strategic data” across divergent constituent groups that directly shed light on strategic decision making.

Focus group opportunities are an excellent way to learn first-hand the desires and concerns of campers and their parents. Early in my consulting career, I conducted focus groups on behalf of clients — gathering the data and reporting out the findings as part of my technical assistance. I now train board members and managers to lead groups themselves. The information gathered continues to be valuable, and there is the added dimension of direct feedback and enlightenment by camp board members and managers. The method of data collection also gives people a greater sense of plan “buy in” resulting in better understanding the need for change!
Several tips to consider when collecting information are:

  • Divide your constituents into “segments” using age, sex, cultural background, interests, and other criteria.
  • Consider electronic surveying linked to your Web site.
  • Hold community forums to both inform groups of your camp offerings and to learn about particular interests.
  • Practice “industrial tourism” (e.g., obtaining ideas from information gleaned from competitors).

Collecting relevant data based on your strategic decision needs will greatly aid your planning process. Promote “inquiry” — the art of asking questions — among all of your leaders.

Adopt a “Personalized” Plan for Achievement
Begin each month by setting down what you want to accomplish. List two or three projects — identifying actions to be taken. Ask yourself what you need to change. Make a list of contacts who will serve as key resources in assisting you to achieve your project goals. “Stretch” your action steps toward your overall vision but keep it reachable.

You and your team want to concentrate time and energy in the most productive direction — that which brings about the best outcomes — and creates sustainable momentum. Tackle the smaller more easily accomplished issues by first addressing action items that meet the characteristics listed below.

  • small or reasonable cost
  • short-time for completion
  • high visibility
  • uses community assets

Once you have demonstrated an ability to make changes consistent with your plan objectives, tackle larger, more significant issues.

Design Prototypes
A truism in the world of leadership says that the farther away you go from your desk, the more you find out. Most camp directors are well connected to their operational culture. However, to properly utilize this plan implementation tool requires that you take on the role of “product designer.” Designers understand how to turn ideas into prototypes that lead to a better understanding of a new program and how it might work. The prototype is a trial unit on a small scale for experimentation or testing. It should be introduced without significantly disrupting other camp operations.

The key is to develop a prototype in one area of your camp that is a microcosm of your overall camp offerings. This approach allows you to smooth out operational kinks while moving forward toward a more refined design. Designing prototypes also gets people throughout the camp organization excited about the process, paving the way for a broad transformation effort that will follow.

Scan Other Industries for Information and Opportunities
In order to better understand today’s youth, you need to get in touch with organizations in the business of youth development. Public and private schools, scouting groups, and religious youth educators are sources of valuable information. A secondary benefit of these contacts is the information you impart regarding