Bringing Camp Michi-MAC into the 21st Century

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Camp Michi-MAC
City & State:
Harrison Township, 
Organization's Mission Statement

To provide a fun, safe overnight camping experience for children with significant asthma and allergies regardless of the family's ability to pay.

To provide education to campers, adults, parents/guardians and medical personnel while at camp or in the community.

To promote self-care, self-image and independence for children with significant asthma and allergies.

To promote the ability of children to graduate to a regular camping experience.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

In March of 2000, when I became director of Camp Michi-MAC, every form, record and all contact information (including donors, campers and volunteers) was on paper in file drawers and boxes. That first year, we spent hours addressing envelopes, sifting through files and copying letters. That year we were only able to sponsor 35 campers due to lack of funds. The organization was in a shambles. We had very few campers applying to attend; we were bereft of volunteers and did not have the revenue or manpower needed to market ourselves so that we could increase the number of campers. The second year, I vowed to spend less time being a secretary and more time recruiting campers and volunteers and fundraising for the organization.

The Board of Directors approved the creation of a Hotmail account for Camp Michi-MAC to bring the organization up to date and to create a more efficient way of communicating with everyone involved with the organization. The address had to be easy to remember and identifiable. became our email address. Communicating by email has made life much easier for everyone - our Donors, Board of Directors, Camper Parents and Volunteers. Through the use of email we have saved postage, paper, time and have been able to streamline all communication processes through use of contact lists. For instance, every year when our camper list is confirmed, we create a contact list entitled campers 200X. Once that is created, communicating with camper parents is a cinch. There are always those few (usually less than 10) who don’t use email and have to be communicated with through U.S. Mail, but it is a small task compared to the volume of mail that used to be required.

We were able to purchase Microsoft Office XP Professional from Tech Soup in 2001. The price was affordable and I was able to take free classes in Access, Power Point, and Excel at my place of employment.

Microsoft Access was utilized to create 3 databases; one for campers, one for volunteers and one for past donors. The camper database includes all vital information and demographics. Forms were created with check box fields to track needed paperwork so I can see at a glance who is missing a form or immunization record. Reports were created to print address labels, chart file labels, name tags, camper lists and labels for medication bags and peak flow meters. Identifying everything from a camper record to their medications has become as easy as pie.

The volunteer database was created to make correspondence and continued volunteer recruiting easier. It was used, once again, to track needed forms such as CPR cards and TB tests. Needed information was at my fingertips to determine what documents were needed from whom. The volunteer correspondences were easily sent utilizing mailing labels. If I received a volunteer inquiry in December I would simply enter that prospective volunteer’s information into the database and then a mailing label would be printed in January when volunteer letters were being mailed.

The donor database was the most valuable one that we created. It allows me to keep track of submission due dates, addresses, contact information and donation histories. I print reports organized by due dates so that I can easily see which grant requests needed to be updated, printed and mailed.

Word was used to electronically store all documents. Every bylaw, policy/procedure, staff and camper correspondence and grant essay was entered into Word to make yearly review and alteration easy and convenient. Gone are the dusty boxes full of documents from years past. Grant requests are updated from year to year to make timely submission a cinch. Our yearly by-law review is emailed to Board members for review and changes are made and saved.

Our most innovative use of technology is a “Thank You Slide Show”. (See Attached) Microsoft Power Point is used at the end of each year’s camp session to display snapshots of our campers and volunteer doctors and nurses at camp. It is set to music and animated and the result is a professional and entertaining “electronic thank you note” from our campers and staff. These smiling faces are saved as a Power Point Show and either emailed or burned to a disc and mailed to our generous donors to thank them for their support. This creative, beautiful display of what their dollars created and fostered, make them much more willing to continue to provide funding to Camp Michi-MAC each year.

Our budget was entered into an MS Excel spread sheet and although not innovative, it has been more than useful and has allowed the Board of Directors to see our cash flow in a neat and organized fashion. It has made record keeping and reporting easy and organized for our Treasurer.

Beginning in 2007, we consistently correspond with our volunteers and campers by email. This saves postage costs, time, paper and printer ink. All camper families that have an email address are contacted each year by email and all camper forms are sent as attachments. Out of the 60 campers attending this year, only 9 did NOT have an email address. We were able to decrease our postage costs by $100 each year with these new practices. This may not sound like a lot, but our organization has an annual operating budget of only $38,000. Even small amounts can make a difference in whether we are able to afford that 60th camper.

I have been able to research and identify more appropriate grants through the internet. In 2000, we applied for 3 grants and were approved for 1. In 2008, 18 grants were applied for and 10 were approved. Through the use of technology, we have been able to find those new generous donors and foundations, easily tweak our grant proposals to fit the requirements of the foundation and meet their submission deadlines.

All of this sounds like it just made my job easier and that is true. However, in making my job as director easier, it gave me time and resources to get out in the community to spread the word about Camp Michi-MAC. Physicians and community groups need to be constantly reminded that we are looking for funding and volunteers. Brochures need to be restocked at Medical Center locations and grants need to be researched and applied for. These process improvements have allowed me the time to attend speaking engagements to recruit campers and funding. I have more opportunities to make phone calls to assist our camper families with paperwork and procuring transportation to and from Camp. Our funding has increased as evidenced by the fact that we have consistently welcomed 55 to 60 campers each year since 2003. Without the use of technology, I would still be shuffling papers, licking envelopes and wondering why we can’t send more campers every year. Our funding has increased by 42 percent from 2000 to 2009. For the past 4 years we have had to solicit the donation of an RV to create more volunteer bed space due to the growing number of volunteers.

Yes, Camp Michi-MAC is flourishing and has been able to involve many more families thanks to technology.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
Project Image