The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has been able to net hundreds of thousands of dollars through its summer camps.
Gary Wohlstetter, the senior associate athletic director, Physical Education and Recreation, has been part of camps at UMBC off and on for 35 years. He has learned how big of a money maker camps can be. In fact, he was able to raise the extra money needed for a new facility through the program.
“It generates a tremendous amount of revenue for our program,” said Wholstetter during a CR Mastermind meeting as he presented on the topic of summer camps. “It took probably the last five years to build it to a level that it is now.”
UMBC summer camps run nine weeks with about 175 campers attending each week. Prep begins in November and everything begins to move full steam ahead starting December 1. Forty to 50 people run the camp.
However, Wohlstetter made one crucial point. “It’s not for everybody,” he said. “A lot of people in rec will say, ‘Well, why do I want to do this when I can have my summers to recover?’ But it’s a philosophical standpoint that you have to take and look at to see is this the right fit for you.”
Overall though, it can be hugely beneficial for the department. “If you are challenged financially, you can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars that help you program and build up,” said Wohlstetter. “We’ve been able to also add one and a half positions because of it. That allowed our regular recreation staff to grow. And then it’s also a service to our campus for the faculty and staff who work here because it’s their children who come to the camp. For me, it’s somewhat of a passion. But it’s not for everybody.”
How Staffing It Works
Wohlstetter isn’t in charge of the day-to-day. Two other staff are. Plus, they hire a full-time camp director who is an external teacher as a Contingent One seasonal employee. She has been the camp director for over five years. He noted from a liability standpoint she is under the university, which was a big piece for him.
“Originally when we talked about it, they wanted to just contract her out as a contractor,” said Wohlstetter. “I got the legal people involved, and I said, ‘Look, if we’re going to do this safely, this person has to be protected the same way we are.’ They agreed. She has a Contingent One seasonal contract for 40 hours a week. And it works out great. The people that are internal, which are two people, it’s part of their job description. We were able to get them a little more money, because they’re doing this in the summer.”
Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
That was another note Wohlstetter made in his presentation. He is fully aware working over the summer leads to more burnout. At the end of the summer, he said they are often fried.
As such, he checks in leading up to camp to see where staff are at. In addition, everybody is allowed to take one week off during camp to go on vacation. Finally, after the first two weeks into the start of the fall semester, staff are encouraged to take time off in staggered slots to recharge their batteries.
“It seems to be working,” said Wohlstetter. “But we have a very open liberal policy with conversations that if someone needs time, we figure out how to get it done.
Summer camp isn’t easy, but the benefit to UMBC has been more than worth it. And, it’s a passion for Wohlstetter to see the lives of kids changed on a weekly basis. “I love interacting with the kids,” he said. “I love seeing them have small steps of success.”
All in all, the formula of success comes down to three things for the UMBC summer camp:
- Making it accessible to all
“It’s a comprehensive camp that’s primarily run indoors,” said Wohlstetter. “It’s exposing the campers to a lot of different activities with theme weeks every week. And in a way that is very rewarding. It’s hard, but it’s rewarding.”
About CR Mastermind Groups
Discussions around topics like this and more happen in CR Mastermind Groups. They consist of up to eight directors from across the country who meet monthly. These leadership accountability groups provide immediate professional development based on your specific challenges as a leader.
Interested in learning more or joining a group? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit campusrecmgx.com.