A Step by Step Approach to Developing
and Maintaining an Alumni Program
The Most Important Decision is Whether to Proceed
- It takes at least one person who is COMMITTED to make the Alumni Program
work, who can delegate responsibilities as necessary, who has access to
resources as needed, who has the support of camp staff and volunteers when
- Time is FAR better spent making sure your current resources are up-to-date
and accurate (i.e. camper, staff, board rosters, Annual Reports and
newsletters) in preparation for the launch of the Alumni Program than to begin
the Program unprepared or unsure of the commitment.
- Once alumni are contacted, they will be exposed to the workings and
organization of your camp. If you don't have your act together, alumni may
become disillusioned about a camp which had previously evoked so many positive
feelings, and you will have done permanent damage.
Don't Get Lazy - "Mailings Lists Are Living Beings"
- Neglect will not only have a negative impact on alumni feelings (like
mailing to families of deceased individuals), but will destroy years of work,
and make it that much harder to restart.
- If your Alumni Program resources are drying up (no staff, no time, no
money), communicate this with Alumni in one last newsletter(!) - resources may
reappear. Or, if not, go to a 'minimal maintenance' mode (once-a-year
Embrace Your Alumni as You Would Your Campers
- Camp is a philosophy. The 'practice what you preach' needs to extend to
alumni, otherwise they'll see hypocrisy. Don't treat alumni as checkbooks.
Financial status wasn't a criteria to treat people as campers or staff; the
same should apply to alumni. You give a better sense of what your camp is
- Don't promise what you can't deliver. Start small. Be honest. Communicate.
Alumni understand how camp works - they've been there! They just don't want to
be taken for granted (like being contacted only for money).
- Have fun! These are camp people after all. Share the common themes - was
there as little talent at their 'talent shows' 70 years ago as there is today?
Set a Tone
- When you get your mail and flip through the return addresses, which ones
do you anticipate opening? Which ones do you dread? A successful Alumni
Program is one that people want to be a part of and look forward to hearing