We just completed our twelfth season of conducting summer youth technology camps across North America. At this point every year, we begin the evaluation process of how the past season went and we make plans for the following summer. We are always looking at how we can continue to provide the best educational program available. We take a look at our curriculum, our camp processes and our staffing needs among many other areas.
One area of our operation that does not get much of the spotlight is our Field Support division. Our Field Support team is truly the cog of the iD Tech Camps operational wheel. We might offer great curriculum and have the best instructional staff, but none of this would matter if our Field Support team was not working hard to ensure our 60 summer camps were setup and supplied this year.
Our Field Support team is responsible for all logistics of camp setup and supply management throughout the season. Take a moment to image what it takes to plan for separate operations that will be held in 60 different university locations in 25 states and two Canadian provinces! Each location is different in many ways. Our summer camp locations do not offer exactly the same set of courses nor do they have the same setup requirements. So, each location requires a unique logistical plan which must be evaluated and re-evaluated each year.
Technology summer camp logistics require an understanding of all operational aspects of our programs, which starts with identifying whether a program is our standard weeklong format or our intensive 2-weeklong teen academies. From that point, logistics planning branches out to ask what courses will be offered at each location. Courses have different hardware and software needs, as well as different instructional supplies requirements. This last summer, we offered 20 different technology courses for the weeklong program and 10 different courses amongst our three different academies. The variations are numerous.
It takes a knowledgeable and experienced logistics team to pull this off year in and year out. iD Tech Camps is lucky to have such a strong team. The team has been headed by Nancy for the past six years. Dylan has headed up the warehouse operations for four years now. Luis has maintained warehouse operations with Dylan for the past 4 years as well. Each spring we bump up Field Support staff with great hires who supplement the team during the peak season months of spring and summer. This season we had Andy and David rounding out the team-both of whom have worked with us in the past. Together, they have created and run a tight operation that doesn’t miss a beat.
The universities supply the lab and dormitory space in which to operate our summer camps, but it is Field Support that ensures all materials are shipped, delivered and setup on time. That goes for every computer all the way down to ensuring there is enough sheets of paper to print student diplomas. The Field Support team begins packing up supplies as early as February. By the time they are ready to send out “Camp-in-a-Box” to a single location there are between 50 and 200 boxes containing all supplies needed (depending upon whether a camp runs 30 students per week or 250 students per week).
The pallets of boxes are shipped out of the warehouse looking smart and clean. At the end of each camp, the summer staff packs up remaining supplies and equipment to ship back to the warehouse. They repack and send it back in some of the same boxes in which they were shipped. After weeks of being on the camp site, those reused boxes do not always come back in the same pristine condition as when they were shipped out. Once the supplies are returned, they are unpacked, counted and returned to inventory stock in the warehouse.
Each fall and winter, the Field Support team inspects returned equipment to ensure all is in working order, returned to stock and ready for next summer. They stock new equipment and supplies ordered, and those provided by our many partners, as they arrive at the warehouse.
The Field Support team works year round to ensure our camps will be fully supplied and supported so our summer staff can focus their energies on teaching and making camp a fun experience for our students. The Field Support team does this all behind the scenes. The old adage is true that when the infrastructure is running well, you don’t think about. But, when it doesn’t run well it impacts the entire operation. Our Field Support staff is a solid team and we rely on them each and every year to get it done well. And, they do.