One of the good things about maintaining a website for the camp is that you are able to have a presence on the Internet if someone is searching for "Northwest Boy Scouts" or "High Adventure" as well as having a good resource to be able to make information available for troops that are coming to camp. Despite that, a good portion of the e-mails that I respond to are questions of which the answers could be found if someone took the time looking at the website. Of course, that is probably a good indication that we are not making it easy enough to navigate around the web page so that may be an improvement we should undertake soon. Having the website has been good for us, but there are some drawbacks. The first one is you really have to make sure you keep it up to date. We add and subtract information such as summer camp availability, staff interviews, etc. but we usually do not "officially" update our program material until we get closer to camp. This is the second most asked question that I get; "Your advancement roster says 2011, is it the same for 2012?" A valid question of which the answer I always give them is "the program that is posted currently is the program we have currently. If we update anything it will be posted first on the website, so keep checking." For the most part, the structure of our program has not changed much over the years as we have found it to be a successful undertaking. Some folks would say change is good; I say most scouts and scoutmaster come back enough to notice the difference......and the few of you ancient scoutmasters that do, well I think you know that it works well....otherwise, why do you keep coming back? The advancement schedule does not change much unless we add or subtract a merit badge, but the times and offerings are pretty stable. What I try to impart to the scoutmasters that do ask me whether or not we can offer a badge that is not on the list is that we certainly support anything they want us to do. Merit badge classes are not required to obtain the merit badge; successfully completing the requirements is what is required to earn the merit badge. Classes only build skill and time for the scout to pass certain requirements. If you want, we can offer you a counselor to sit down with your scout and assure that they are able to demonstrate each requirement, just as if they had made an appointment with a counselor at home and went for the evening to do that.
The other main drawback is that we receive a lot of e-mail from either individuals or companies trying to sell us software products to help manage our camp. Some of these "companies" are designed for any type of summer camp operation, for profit or not-for-profit and some are designed specifically for Boy Scout camps. The pitch is always the same and somewhat generic; "Are you tired of all the hassle........", "Do you wonder how your money is accounted for............", "Are you tired of having to keep inventory and would rather be prompted on when to order..........". We probably have had about 10 different vendors try to sell us their wares in order to make our summer lives more manageable and therefore more enjoyable. Buy now so we can save later and have a more efficient system which will actually earn us money. Sounds like a winner, eh? It may make sense to look at a system if we truly ran a day to day business year round, but it would have to be in conjunction with the council's financial tracking system. Right now, I would be just as happy to have them open a "deposit only" account at our local bank instead of having to hand cart cash and checks to Seattle. It would be efficient, safe, accountable and less possibility of misplacement or loss.
This is not the first time modern technology with associated software has darkened our doors. There have been talks about having online merit badge sign ups.......folks, that really doesn't help you and it really does not help us. Scouts change their minds when they arrive to camp or you might come to camp and say...uh oh....little Johnny shouldn't be taking that merit badge. If you want, you have the advancement sheet readily available, write out who you want taking what and hand it to us when you arrive.....what is the difference? We do not shut down classes so nothing really "fills up". Do you want to help yourself AND the camp? Push for electronic rosters; an online form that you can log on to, populate with the scouts and adults attending camp, the dates the adults will be there (rotating) and then the program automatically fills in your insurance number and calculates how many scouts and adults will be there on a day to day, meal to meal basis so you know that you are going to be a few extra at one meal and WE will be prepared for that one or two extra persons. With a click of a button you can add or take off scouts that either come at the last minute or don't show up instead of trying to cross them off or fit them on the roster. Going even further, a program that will automatically tell me that all adults are registered scouters with the BSA. Now that is a program I would buy and would buy now!!