2020: Year in Review

Well, the 2020 camp season is over. I will diplomatically say that it was a unique one. I have a few thoughts about it.


Let’s get the obvious out the of way. About half the year was dominated with it. I want to focus on our team for this one. We are just like you – emotions, stress, anxiety, uncertainty were all very high in those beginning weeks. We did not know which way was up. The team rallied and asked one simple question, “what do our camps need?”. Ideas started flowing and you know how it happens…one person has an idea, another adds to it, someone else questions it and it just flows. As a result of lots of smart people discussing, debating and thinking you end up with a chart like this:

Initial Thought Executed Action
“for clients that cancel sessions or the whole summer, what’s their process going to look like in the software?”
  • Automate the process of cancelling sessions and updating camper financial records
  • Add the ability to carry forward balances to a new season in a mass way
  • Add a number of smaller items to reduce steps and save time
“after these COVID features, should we go back to our product roadmap and continue?”
  • Put a call out to everyone in the company to become part of “product idea groups” (almost everyone participates)
  • These product idea groups pitch their ideas to a committee and the committee ultimately chooses the most impactful features for the next stage.
“camps are going to really want to know what other camps are thinking”
  • Create a bi-weekly survey at the height of the pre-summer crisis to provide real-time information, categorized by type of camp
“our camps may be facing significant credit card processing fees”
  • Create a summary of the issues and a list of suggestions to lower fees and ensure a smooth process
“our camps are going to feel significant financial pain”
  • Create a multi-disciplinary task force to analyse the issue
  • Develop the CB Financial Relief Program, providing the option of discounts to all our clients over the next year

My point is this: not one of these ideas reaches these end results if kept by a single person. You only reach this spot with generous and vulnerable collaboration…and I am proud of our team for the way they conducted themselves in the past 6 months!

Product Enhancements.

COVID product changes aside, we accomplished a lot in the past 12 months. Here are the highlights:

  • Fundraising – Released in Fall 2019, this module hit such a lovely sweet spot. It is not intended for a hospital fundraising team of 10 people, raising $20mil every year. It’s ideal for that camp that wants to provide an elegant online giving experience to their donors, use a system they can learn in minutes, make their usual routines of communication, soliciting and receipting very efficient and have one person record for everything your families/staff/alum do with you.
  • Camp Store – We debated how to tackle this for a looong time! I could not be more pleased with our selected path. Rather than completely recreating the wheel, we integrated with Square. Set up your products and prices, manage your inventory, record POS transactions in Square. Use our fully integrated app to record camper and staff purchases and monitor balances in a beautiful, mobile-friendly screen. Of course, everything is integrated with the overall camper/staff financial record.
  • Infrastructure – admittedly, it is hard to “sell” you on plumbing work but we invested a lot of time in this area over the last 12 months. Keeping it simple, you “see” this on your end in product reliability and speed. We take our commitment to be around for another 25 years very seriously and this comes with that territory. We are very happy to publicize that we spent a lot of time, effort and money investing in the product’s infrastructure.

Leadership Growth.

I have spoken on this topic in the past. We want our team to grow internally – 50% of our current team has been with us for at least 5 years. We work hard to understand each person’s specific talents and then match them to learning opportunities and, hopefully, new positions as they open up.

We have been planning a bit of a restructuring of our Operations team and we were able to implement it at the beginning of this month. Here are folks that have taken new leadership positions from within:

Rich – Director of Operations (overseeing our vision for the team)

Alison Schmidt – Client Support Manager (managing the support and implementations teams, ensuring a high quality of service)

Emily – Implementations Lead (leading and mentoring our implementations team on a day-to-day, client-by-client basis)

Pip – Manager of Client Success (overseeing all of our “success” initiatives)

Rob Marsden – Technical Support Lead (leading and mentoring our support team on the day-to-day flow of support)

Each of these fine folks have their own unique set of talents but, they share one thing that we value most – they are good people that care deeply.

2020: Year in Review
2020: Year in Review
2020: Year in Review
2020: Year in Review
2020: Year in Review

What’s Next?

Let’s return to the oddity that is living in a COVID world. I am not sure what the next season will bring us all in our community. Planning for this next season, we asked the same question, “what do our camps need?”. Here is what we concluded:

  1. Specific features – as laid out in our recent newsletter, we have a focused plan for the next several months to deliver the features that will provide the most impact to you at this particular time. We acknowledge things may shift in the world and we are willing to shift alongside.
  2. Stability in service – this is not fancy but we believe what you will need most over the coming months is to be able to rely on us to be there for you, answering questions, solving issues, providing guidance. We will also be proactively reaching out this Fall to ensure you have what you need.
  3. Learning opportunities – with the cancellation of BRAINSTORM (for this year) and possible camp staff changes, we wanted to ensure there were solid opportunities to learn how to get the most from CB. You should have info by now on our Fall Educational Series and I hope you find it helpful.

We won’t be traveling to as many conferences this season (we won’t attend any in-person this Fall) so we may not see you as we always do. We’ll attend virtual ones and we will continue to support our associations and partners in our camp community.

Let’s take these next steps together as we prepare for the coming season. We’re here for you.

With appreciation and gratitude,

Rob Carmichael

Love your Software,

Rob rob@campbrain.com