Open-Ended Question Opens a Floodgate of Ideas
Earlier this year the CAMP Rehoboth Programs Committee published an online survey about potential activities to be offered through the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. More than 150 people took the survey and gave valuable feedback, which has already been used to develop some projects around CAMP. The survey ended with the typical request for respondents to share any additional comments or suggestions.
Experience tells us that most people tend to skip a question like that, or to give only brief comment. That was NOT true of CAMP respondents! More than one-third of the people taking the survey took the time to write comments. Some of the comments were several paragraphs long! As one of the committee members who read through the anonymous comments, I was impressed by the time and thought that obviously went into these comments. People really do care about CAMP Rehoboth and the important work it does. Most of the comments were positive (thank goodness!) Just as important, though, the comments that were critical still seemed constructive in tone.
The Committee members identified some overarching themes in the comments and presented them to the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors at the May 10 meeting. The Board used them as the basis for a time of discussion at their retreat on July 19. There was a lot of head nodding in agreement as the Board looked at the themes. In many ways, the themes echoed concerns held by Board members, and they affirmed the importance of some new initiatives that have been introduced at CAMP this year. The themes were:
1. CAMP Rehoboth needs to show the community more new faces. CAMP Rehoboth is more than a “Mom and Pop” organization; it is made up of hundreds of volunteers and supporters. CAMP Rehoboth will do a better job at highlighting the “community” part of the Community Center. The “CAMP Volunteer Spotlight,” a new feature in Letters this season that profiles our volunteers, is a step in the right direction. We also plan to involve new CAMP volunteers in CAMP’s new show on Comcast Television. CAMP Rehoboth has brought two new faces on board in the past two years (Chris Beagle and Claire Ippoliti), who in turn have brought new energy and new activities to the organization.
2. CAMP Rehoboth needs to do a better job of showing off what it does. One quarter of respondents reported that they did not know what programs are currently being offered by CAMP Rehoboth. Several people suggested that CAMP develop a marketing strategy that would be valuable in promoting services as well as seeking corporate donations and grants.
3. CAMP Rehoboth needs to look at its leadership. Transparency is the buzzword these days on many levels of our society, and respondents want to apply it to CAMP Rehoboth, too. The Board just updated its corporate by-laws (for the first time in fifteen years!), is looking at staffing patterns for the CAMP office, and is keeping “succession planning” on the table as an important consideration.
4. CAMP Rehoboth needs to remember that “sometimes smaller brings better/more results.” Not everything has to be a big production. Small group activities can be done at low cost, build a sense of community, and foster a sense of greater support of CAMP Rehoboth as an organization. We will really see this idea come to life with a series of educational workshops to be offered free of charge in the Community Center during the “off-season.” Planned topics included legal issues, estate planning, health care reform and changes in Medicaid, among others. Look for announcements about the workshops later this year!
5. CAMP Rehoboth needs to think about its scope of its mission. CAMP Rehoboth was started to “create a more positive Rehoboth,” but twenty years later, it means much more than that. Its impact is felt across the county, across the state, throughout the region. How does that fact change how CAMP does things? That question was the focus of discussion for CAMP’s Long Range Planning Committee, which met for the first time on July 30th. This committee has representatives from CAMP’s staff and Board, as well as the community at large. Their goal is to set strategic goals for the organization for the next five years, to help CAMP Rehoboth become everything that the community wants and needs.
6. CAMP Rehoboth needs to enhance how it uses volunteers. We have a lot of different things that need to be done and a lot of different people who might be able to do them! Matching the right people with the right projects is an art. Kathy Weir has done an excellent job doing that over the years, but we want to take it to the next level. What does that mean? I’m not sure yet, but the Personnel Committee is working on that as they look at staffing patterns in the office.
7. CAMP Rehoboth needs to ask the community for its input more often…and be sure to share with the community what it finds out. The Program Committee’s online survey has opened the floodgates. CAMP’s redesigned webpage, the electronic announcements, and the CAMP Leadership Council all are good ways to share information and to ask for feedback. The best way is still the old-fashioned way: having an open door and a listening ear.
Feel free to stop by the CAMP Rehoboth office and talk with us today, or email email@example.com.