The Camp Director

Leadership, Technology, Training, Staff Recruitment, Marketing, Child Development, Risk Management

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How Do You Use Your Social Network Sites?

December 4th, 2007 · 2 Comments · ACA, Facebook, Myspace, Social Media, Twitter

The American Camp Association (ACA) has invited me to run a session at the National Conference in Nashville 2008 on “Technology Tour—A Hands-on Look at Sites and Tools.” Last year I did a session on myspace and facebook to a group of camp veterans who were still in the dark on social network sites. At the end of the session most stayed an extra hour just to set-up their own site. With their camera phone and college aged son or daughter texting them, they maneuvered through the sign-up process, friended their kids and began messaging each other. Several of them have embraced the technology and used it all summer with their staff.

Despite this small cluster of tech-savvy 40+ year olds, most of the camp directors in that age group are not using social media like the directors in ACA Young Professionals (YPs). There is a great technology divide in the camp community that likely resembles other professions. When you are immersed in technology it is hard to imagine others don’t share your passion. Their eyes roll into the back of their head when you start talking about twitter, podcasts, or RSS feeds. Even college students stick to the basics of youtube, facebook, myspace, etc.

Chris Brogan declared that his next 100 posts on his blog are going to be on social media. I hope he talks about how social media can make you more efficient and productive. We know it helps build connections and conversations. I know for the average college student social network sites are productivity killers, especially during finals week.

Technology, for me, is a way to be more productive rather than more social. Facebook connects me to staff and until recently, the only friends I had on facebook were staff. Facebook was more like a business site for me. As more people join facebook those lines blur. Do I friend the parents of clients I see in my private practice just because they ask? What about that random person I met at an ACA conference that I will likely not see or talk to for another year? Tim Street wrote a thought provoking post on friends versus fans. I could relate to his comment that sometimes you will have fans that want to be friends with you and this makes things very confusing. While I don’t really have ‘fans’ I do meet a lot of people at conferences and have a great time once year. Can I really afford to add everyone who asks into my social network? The way the networks are set up currently, the answer is no. Facebook or twitter or whatever is next on the horizon has to allow me to segregate my ‘friends’ into groups and has to allow me to turn off the newsfeeds of people I don’t want to hear about. There was a great article by Dare Obasanjo about how Robert Scoble, a well known tech blogger, hijacked Dare’s Facebook News Feed. I personally liked most of what Scoble posts so that newsfeed issue didn’t bother me.

The way it is set up now on most of these sites, it is all or nothing and therefore I choose to be selective with those I let into my network since I am using them as a tool rather than PR for me as a brand.

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  • Hi! This caught my attention because of a twitter by Chris Brogan, and that my kids were at a camp last summer. I really appreciated the idea of Bunk notes and getting to see pictures of my kids almost daily; in fact, I figured out one of my kids broke their glasses at camp through the pictures, and sent a replacement pair up to camp as a result.
    However, I was very disappointed by our camp’s lack of follow through on the faxed bunk note reports; I sent my kids notes every day, but they received them in clumps, and this was particularly VERY bad for my youngest, who was away at camp for the very first time, and was homesick- by not hearing from us in a timely fashion and by not sending us notes back as a result, I paid for a service i did not get, and my child now refuses to even talk about going to camp again this year without crying, because he feels he was lied to by the camp. I would like to but now really can’t send him back there, without losing his trust in me.

    So my message to you and the ACA, is that these new media tools are wonderful, but you have to execute on them just like traditional correspondance. Failure to do so can really have an effect on kids and parents who trust you, and I beg of you to take this part seriously.

    Hopefully we’ll be able to get John to try a different camp this year, but it’s going to be a challenge. If a camp decides to promote, sell and rely on a new media strategy, all parts need to be in place in advance of the first session of camp. It’s important to parents and kids alike.

  • Hi Jennifer,

    I always think of social networks as the most efficient way to waste time. :)

    Seriously though… Facebook has been unusual in that it has brought together my personal and business networks.

    Some people are uncomfortable with that, but I find it fascinating because I try to live an integrated life.

    On a simple, personal level I’ve found that Facebook and Twitter fulfils the function of a neighbourhood pub or bar. There’s casual conversation about shared interests with people I know on a shallow level, but over a period of time.

    Of course, you wouldn’t spend the whole day in the pub, so I try to avoid the temptation to spend all day checking email, Facebook or reading Twitter tweets.

    As a fairly busy person, these tools also help me constantly remember the people I’m dealing with. It’s never just about the job; it’s about the person behind it.

    As Gary Smalley says in The DNA of Relationships: “Life is relationships; the rest is just details”