Visiting Your Kid at Summer Camp
Attending summer camp is an invaluable experience that millions of children gain year after year. But, as a parent, sending your child to camp can often be an anxiety-filled time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a way to see your child while they were at camp and communicate with them everyday, without spoiling their fun or embarrassing them? Well, thanks to Ari Ackerman, founder and CEO of Bunk1.com, you can.
"Imagine this: Your kids are hundreds of miles away at camp," says Ackerman. "They're swimming, sailing, playing tennis and horsing around in the bunk. You know they're having fun, because you just logged on to your computer and saw pictures of them in action. You also e-mailed your daughter on her great backhand and your son on his navigational skills with a tiller ... and they got your printed out e-mails the same day, not a week later! This is the concept and practice that Bunk1 offers."
What's the Big Idea?
Bunk1 gives parents a way to keep in touch with their children, while still allowing them the retreat that summer camp offers. "There are no computers in the bunks – kids aren't e-mailing home; camp life remains untainted," says Ackerman. "But Bunk1 is giving parents a window into their kids' camp world through daily photos on their camp's Web site. With the click of a mouse, parents can access the online photos of their kids, send one-way e-mail (which is printed out for the campers), view online newsletters, send camp-specific care packages, buy needed camp equipment and, after the camp season, purchase CD-ROM yearbooks."
Previous methods of communication between campers and parents often mimicked the days of the pony express. Letters would arrive too late or not at all.
"Communication once was the art of writing letters," says Ackerman. "This often took over a week to be delivered, as camps are generally situated in remote locations. In fact, at many one-week camps around the country, communication from parents was impossible, as letters would not arrive in time. Not to mention, there was no way for parents to 'see' how their children were doing until they came home from camp."
Parents Say ...
According to Ackerman, the feedback from parents is possibly the best part of his job. Feeling as if he is truly helping thousands of families, Ackerman says that Bunk1 literally receives thousands of e-mails and calls from parents/grandparents/friends offering thanks for providing this service to them.
"Parents often tell us how they have always heard from the child how much they loved camp but never really got many details," says Ackerman. "Now, they can log on while their child is at camp and see what is happening. Further, when the camper gets home, they can go through the pictures and share the magic of camp together! A great testimonial I received this week was from a woman in Texas who thanked us for providing this service, as her husband was in the military stationed in Iraq and was logging on any chance he could to see the pictures of his son at camp."
Campers Say ...
It is not just parents who love the benefits that Bunk1 provides. The campers themselves are very thankful, as they now have a way to preserve their memories in hard copy. "We receive hundreds of e-mails from campers thanking us for helping them relive the great experiences they have at camp when they get home," says Ackerman. "It is also great to report that we have never had a single camper complain about being in the pictures ... There does not seem to be an abundance of shyness in the camp world."
Camp Counselors Say ...
Many camps had assumed that this kind of Web site was beyond their budget and/or technical expertise and are thrilled to offer such a sophisticated service to their parents. "For camps that used to print out individual e-mails and sort them by hand, this saves them tremendous time, effort and money," says Ackerman. "Even the very tech savvy camps utilize features of our system that they never would have been able to incorporate, offering even more than before to both campers and parents."
"Summer camps have been around since the early 1900s," says Joey Waldman, owner of Camp Blue Ridge, in Mountain City, Ga. "Bunk1.com has been the catalyst for the most dramatic change to occur in the history of the industry."
Where Is It?
Parents can find out whether their favorite summer camp has incorporated Bunk1 or find a camp that has by logging onto the Bunk1 Web site, calling the toll-free number (888-465-2267) or even discussing it with the camp director to see if it is an option. "If your child is not at a Bunk1 camp, you can contact the camp owner or director," says Ackerman. "It is never too late for your camp to sign up so you can experience the magic of your kid's camp experience along with them!"
When parents can see their kids swimming, playing soccer and just generally having fun, they can relax. And that means the camp director can relax, too. "Numerous camp directors report to us that by posting daily pictures they get A LOT fewer calls from worried parents," says Ackerman. "While preserving the magic of camp, we enable parents to stay in instant touch with their kids and share their summer fun experiences at more than 1,000 camps throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel and Australia. I am extremely proud to be able to provide a service that everyone involved in the summer camp world can benefit [from]."