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Mobile Apps for Summer Camp Directors

February 12th, 2010 · No Comments · Technology

These are the iphone apps that I simply cannot live without as a camp director.  While I have quite a few applications on my iphone, I tried to pick out the ones that I use most for camp.  Some of these may be available for the blackberry or android.  I don’t have either of those devices so I am counting on the readers to tell us what they use on those platforms. They are separated out by categories.  The summer camp I run is a day camp in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley).  Iphones are prevalent among the staff and campers.  I remember the day the iphone was first released. I had two staff members take the morning off to wait in line for the phone.  We have fairly good internet but no campus wifi at our location.  Some of the applications need access to the internet. This could be a conversation about allowing or banning campers and staff from using their phones at camp.  I prefer to teach kids and staff how to moderate the use of technology at work and at camp so I do not have a blanket ban on devises. Rather we have expectations for work and play, how technology and phones can be used and when they should be put away, when to know if you should have expensive items at camp and when to leave them at home, etc.  This policy is not for everyone, it works for us.

What are your favorite applications?

How do you use the apps below?

Productivity

Toodledo ($2.99)
[Toodledo itunes link] [Toodledo web site]
Both a web based app and an iphone app, Toodledo is the productivity tool that has worked for me. I have tried quite a few but I keep coming back to this one. I can email my list with an attachment and with a pro account I can collaborate task lists with co-workers.

Google Mobile (free)
[Google itunes link] [Google Apps web site]
We use a number of google apps at camp. All our training and events are posted on a google calendar so staff can subscribe to it and get any updates directly on their phone or computer. I use a program called Spanning Sync to sync my ical and contacts to my google accounts. We also use google docs at camp. The Google app makes accessing all the services so much simpler.

Storage

DropBox (free)
[DropBox itunes link] [DropBox web site]
This is an application that allows you to access your dropbox account. Dropbox is the easiest way to store, sync, and, share files online. I collaborate with various team members and find that this is the easiest way to share files without having to mail them back and forth. It has a great photo viewer and plays mp3 from within my drop box account.

Evernote (free)
[Evernote itunes link] [Evernote web site]
This iphone app connects with your Evernote web based account which can serve as a place to save digital assets. It is immensely powerful and versatile being able to save and search through everything from voice memos to web links to screen shots to pictures and PDFs.  At training staff work with chart paper to record their ideas. Now I can take a picture of the charts and send them to Evernote which turns them into searchable text.  It works great at conferences and meetings with whiteboards too. The value to me is the ability to search these assets and access them from any computer or my iphone.

Social Connection

Facebook (free)
[Facebook itunes link] [Facebook web site]
I find staff tend to message me more on facebook than via email.  I do make it a point to tell them they may get a quicker response on email since a facebook message requires me to open the app or website.  Since my facebook messages get delivered to my email account, if a facebook messager can at least put an email address in their message, I will reply more quickly.  Of course as facebook improves their messaging system, it may make replying to facebook message easier. Right now it is just way to clunky.

Tweetie 2 (2.99)
[Tweetie 2 itunes link] [Tweetie 2 web site]
There are many different twitter applications, Tweetie 2 has worked the best for me. Twitteriffic is a great free app. I use TweetDeck on my computer and a lot of people like TweetDeck for the iphone.

Purchasing

Amazon (free)
[Amazon itunes link] [Amazon Prime]
I have an amazon prime account so this app is used quite a bit for my personal life.  For camp I use it more to compare prices or to order items that I don’t submit for reimbursement.  Being at a large university, all my purchases go through a big processing system. No app for that ; (

Red Laser ($1.99)
[Red Laser itunes link] [Red Laser]
As any good summer camp director knows, we are always looking for a deal. This is a great app to compare prices when you see something you need for camp. I have found fabulous books at Costco, deals on buckets of chalk or construction paper, etc. This app can help you locate great prices or save items you have found for a later purchase run through your budget office.

Media

Photogene ($1.99)
[Photogene itunes link]
While there are a number of photo editing apps available, this is the one I used first and it just works. I use it when I want to edit a photo before I post it on a blog or twitter.  Photoshop.com  Mobile is also a great app and it is free!

TweetMicPro ($1.99)
[TweetMicPro itunes link] [TweetMic web site]
This is a fantastic way to capture and publish audio from your phone to your twitter account. There are so many great moments at camp like songs, stories, kids testimonials about their favorite activity at camp, etc. The free version (TweetMic Lite) has less functionality such as not being able to save recordings, tweet to multiple accounts, include photos, etc.

Qik Live and Ustream Live Broadcaster (free)
[Qik Live itunes link] [Qik Live web site]
[
Ustream Live Broadcaster itunes link] [Ustream Live Web Site]
In addition to recording audio, recording live video is even better. Of course you want to make sure you have all the proper releases for your campers and staff before you put their images online. Even if you don’t record close-ups of kids, live images from the camp facility give your campers and their families a way to be connected to you during the summer and the off season.

Tweet Reel ($2.99)
[Tweet Reel itunes link] [Tweet Reel web site]
This is the only application that will let you edit video on the iphone.  Imagine recording video and letting a camper edit it for you so you can upload it later.  So many camp directors want to be able to get more great content at camp. That can he achieved by making everyone at camp a content producer.  Of course you will want to set some standards and approve videos before they get posted.  You can get some great videos on camp with a title and you camp web site with this application.  Here is a video my friend Steve Garfield, author of Get Seen, recorded and edited with TweetReel of @LeVarBurton jumping off the stage during David @Pogue‘s Musical at MacWorld 2010.

Entertainment

Coin Toss (free)
[Coin Toss itunes link]
Does this really need an explanation? I have seen my staff get very creative in the absence of a coin. The craziest thing flipped was an unopened box of peanut brittle: The staff called out “Logo” or “Nutritional Facts” rather than “Heads” or “Tales” and then the box was tossed in the air.

iBluff Trivia : True or False App & Knock Knock App (free)
[iBluff Trivia True False itunes link] [Knock Knock itunes link]
This is a fun true or false app and Knock Knock app. Great way to entertain a few kids during downtime. As the director I don’t frequently need to supervise kids but when I get a few and need to stall, this can be a great short term game.

Knowledge/Education

SkyVoyager (9.99)
[SkyVoyager itunes link] [SkyVoyager web site]
Awarded Best in Show at MacWorld 2010, SkyVoyager is a powerful planetarium program. You can identify stars and planets by holding your phone next to them, and you can find any object in the sky by following an arrow that SkyVoyager points in its direction. Also works with a computer-controlled telescope. There are less expensive apps in this category you may want to try.

The Weather Channel (free)
[The Weather Channel itunes link]
Even in Berkeley, where it never rains in the summer, we still like to keep track of the weather. I like the forecasting on this app much more than the one that comes with the iphone.

Brain Quest Blastoff ($0.99)
These paper trivia books are a staple at camp.  During down times kids love trivia questions.  Sure, the great camp staff member can make up trivia all day, but once and a while they need a break. Having this on your phone is a lifesaver.  Brain Quest Blastoff iphone apps by grade level – links go to itunes store [second grade] [third grade] [fourth grade] [fifth grade] [sixth grade] [seventh grade]

Where to go for more apps

Revision3 AppJudgement – a couple of my friends are on this great show reviewing mobile apps.  It include android apps for those of you without iphones or ipod touches.

What are your favorite applications?

How do you use the apps below?

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