Camp Alumni: An Untapped Resource

Posted on February 5, 2013 by Catherine Ross

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In 2011, Cheryl Williams completed her Masters research for Royal Roads University (BC) titled In What Ways Can the BC Lions Society Develop Mutually Beneficial Relationships with Alumni Camp Staff.

Cheryl realized that the alumni staff of BC Lions Easter Seals Camping Program was “an untapped resource as there is no currently formal way of engaging them in the camping programs once they leave their positions.” At camp, staff experience the great satisfaction of working as part of a highly functioning team to make a difference in people’s lives. However, at the end of their time on staff, there was little in place to allow them to continue to make a positive contribution.

The research considered several options for alumni to benefit from a continuing relationship with the camp:

– as members of a camp alumni board
– as fundraisers (persons who volunteer for an organization are more likely to contribute financially to that organization)
– as mentors or advisors to current staff.

Cheryl’s research indicated that millenials (individuals born between 1961 and 1991) are motivated to volunteer through altruism and selflessness; however, other factors are relevant:

– They place a great value on trust when deciding which organizations to support.
– They need to perceive a benefit such as skill development from the experience.
– They desire autonomy to make decisions and act on their own ideas.
– They are more likely to volunteer if someone they know and respect recruits them.

The conclusions of Cheryl’s research will encourage camps that are considering tapping their alumni potential.

– Alumni feel a sense of belonging within the camp community.
– Alumni want to play a role in fundraising and directing the future of the camp.
– Alumni are already engaged and involved – formalization is required.
– Alumni need a formal structure to be involved and need opportunities to develop their skills.

Cheryl is happy to share her complete work with anyone interested. Please contact her at

– Written by Catherine Ross, CCA Communications Officer

Communications Officer at Canadian Camping Association
Catherine's lifelong love of camping began in 1953 when she accompanied her mother, the new camp cook, to Camp Tanamakoon in Algonquin Park. She remained at Tan until 1978 as a camper and in several staff roles. After five years as a teacher, in 1979, Catherine and her husband George purchased Camp Mi-A-Kon-Da for girls in Parry Sound, Ontario which they owned for 20 years. Catherine has served on the Board of the Ontario Camps Association, and is Past President of the Society of Camp Directors. She is currently Communications Officer on the Board of the CCA. She is past editor of Camps Canada, published by the CCA, and the OCAasional News, the newsletter of the OCA. She is the author of four publications. Her articles on camping have appeared in numerous magazines.