Dear CampBrain Clients:
I use this annual post to chat about what happened at the Brain in the past year, what we were thinking about, what mattered to us. Let’s acknowledge first that it has been another challenging 12 months for the world: a pandemic that we all wish would just go away, a senseless war initiated by Russia, and economic uncertainty. I could have listed a fair bit more but you get the point.
The camp community saw a huge resurgence in demand from registrants which was lovely….as long as you had enough staff to fulfill those registrations! Parents recognized the vital role that camps fill in our society and were eager to have their kids experience it fully once again.
So, with that brief wider context, here’s my (somewhat long) list of items I would like to highlight from the past season:
We could see the rise in the graphs forming last Fall. But it really became apparent as 2022 began. Registrations for camp were happening sooner and in higher numbers than we had seen previously. After 2 years of a combination of either no camp or disrupted operations, camp was back in full force for summer 2022 and parents/registrants were fully on board.
On the CampBrain front, we could also see our new camp sales volume building strongly. As we entered 2022, we had to “throttle” the number of new clients we accepted. We know how important the implementation phase is and we did not want to compromise that experience or burn out our amazing implementations team. At the end of the day, we still had more clients join CB than in any year in our 28yr history.
I could have continued with more stats but the point is, that in many ways, it was quite a remarkable season.
With fabulous registrations and sales, everything should be perfect, right? I alluded to camps’ difficulties with staffing levels above. But it is not just a quantity issue. When I think back on the past year, I cannot ignore the various internal conversations at different times that demonstrated stress, weariness, struggle. It is not the same for everyone in terms of depth, timing, or breadth. But it is there. In a company of 50 people, we see it.
Our approach continues to be to lean on our values, especially Demonstrate Care, take it a conversation at a time, a person at a time….and be flexible. It does not help to ignore it or pretend it is not there. Let’s acknowledge the circumstances and support our teams.
With a lot of excitement and pride, we released our expanded gender options in the software in December 2021. This feature was truly years in the making; it was a challenge to have a feature that could accommodate all needs. I am incredibly proud of the work done by our thoughtful software development team, engaging with experts, consulting dozens of clients, proposing various options, testing out those options….and, ultimately, building a fantastic solution. You can read more about this journey here.
Our software is used by millions, and we understand the role that software plays in presenting your organization to the world. It is important to us that you may present your organizations to your communities in the way that ensures all feel welcome and included.
A major theme for us has been investing in our software infrastructure over the past many months and we will continue that intense focus for a bit more. Think of this as the plumbing to the system – upgrading specific technologies, implementing security enhancements, tackling database efficiencies, building out automated testing, strengthening DevOps systems. We have always allocated part of our overall development effort to this type of infrastructure work. In this case, we chose to allocate most development resources to a list of important projects in a strong, dedicated effort.
As clients, you do not “see” this work but please know that it is critical and the goals include better system stability, faster system speeds, faster feature development, reliable releases, etc. One of our core values is to think long-term and we are not afraid to take some short-term pain for long-term gain. In this case, the short-term pain is fewer new features right now.
Miriam wrote about our DEI journey almost a year ago. We continue to learn and improve steadily and humbly. There is no single moment or thing that I would highlight but more of a consistent and persistent approach, committing to consider inclusion and belonging in the various aspects of our business.
Here are a few of the steps we have taken:
There is no “done” here. We will just continue to put one foot in front of the other and improve.
We have all read about people movement in the past couple years. We said goodbye to four great long-time team members this past year: Tiho (10 yrs, UX/UI Lead), Scott (9 yrs, Software Developer), Emily (7 yrs, Implementations Lead) and Luke (6 yrs, Marketing Coordinator). Truly fantastic people that you would love to sit around a lunch table with and key contributors to the Brain over the past many years. We know they will continue that success in their new homes.
You know that we love to provide new opportunities from within:
We have also had one of our more active years on the hiring front:
Suffice to say, we are ready for another busy year ahead!
I don’t think you will necessarily notice as a client, but we also completed a restructuring of our Operations team – these are the folks that provide support, implement CB for new clients and users, prepare custom reports and oversee client success. We implemented a pod system with a focus on smaller, tighter teams with clear lines of reporting. This structure will also allow us to expand more naturally as we continue to grow.
Last year, I wrote about releasing half of our office space and embracing a more flexible work environment. Well, we have continued with that theme. We offer an extremely flexible scenario to our team in terms of where they work. Many of our team have moved to other cities, seeking more affordable home purchase options, reuniting with family and friends or exploring new territories. While I sometimes miss the “everyone-in-the-office” days, the benefits of the current structure are undeniable.
We are still learning but here are a few things that our People & Culture team do to maintain connection and engagement:
When we all worked in the office, connection was easy. So, while it is a bit harder in this new scenario, it is doable…and we are determined to do it well.
Returning to my first section (record registrations, record sales), I believe that the 2023 season will be another busy one. Camp is too important, and parents know it. We have also continued to see strong interest in the software from the community.
We will all need to continue to lean on the patience, resilience, flexibility and adaptability to which we have become accustomed over the past few years. The wider context of what is happening around us requires it.
As you plan for 2023, please know that we are here to support you and be your partner in camp and tech.
With gratitude for your partnership,
Love your Software,