Date published: February 11th, 2016 | By Matthew
Camper Progress Reports: Using Free Google Apps to Increase Retention and Referrals
Our definition of progress reports: updates to parents based on multiple sources about campers by senior staff. Important: “based on multiple sources”. Camper progress reports helped us address four problems:
- Falling through the cracks
- Information storage
- Low retention rate
- Hovering parents
What the Process Is
- Gather information
- Analyze information
- Make adjustments
- Report to parents
1. Gather Information
One at a time, counselors update the assistant director on how their kids are doing.
2. Analyze Information
The assistant director stares at the information, looking for patterns and omissions.
3. Make Adjustments
3a. The assistant director talks to the necessary campers.
3b. The assistant director talks to the necessary counselors.
4. Report to Parents
The assistant director updates the parents, preferably via telephone. What begins as a one-way report sometimes evolves into a two-way conversation.
Why It Makes Sense
Camper progress reports make sense for your campers, your counselors and your parents.
Make sure they’re ok. Make sure they're hitting their summer goals. Identify the “invisibles”. Make adjustments as necessary.
Find out who’s good at developing those all-important relationships. Identify their strengths and weaknesses. Address the needs of specific campers. Coach them if necessary. Progress reports help counselors feel valued and part of the team.
Parents (many of them) like progress reports. Prepare parents to embrace the growth and changes they see in their children. These reports are an opportunity for you to develop relationships. During the reports, it’s easy to segue to your values and your program. Parents who feel connected are easier to retain. Parents who understand your values and your program are better at talking to their friends about camp.
How to Do It
We used Google Drive, which is free with a Google account (a gmail email address). The url is drive.google.com. We used two documents in Drive:
- Form (back end and front end)
Step 1: Create Form
Create a new form. This is the back end. Begin adding your questions. To determine the right questions, think about the kinds of answers you want and then work backwards.
Step 2: Create Spreadsheet
On your form (the back end, same as #1) click the Responses tab. Look for the spreadsheet icon. Follow the instructions and create a new spreadsheet. By doing this, you are telling the form where to send your responses.
Step 3: Look at Spreadsheet
Look at your spreadsheet and confirm that the headers (in Row 1) correspond with the questions you created in your form. If you add more questions to your form, they should automatically show up in your spreadsheet.
Step 4: Submit Sample Responses
Return to the back end of your form. Look for the eye icon at the top of the page. When you scroll over it, you should see Preview or View form or something similar. Click the icon. A new tab should open. This is the front end of your form. Copy that url and send it to whomever will be submitting responses. (Important Note: This form is public.) Submit 3-4 sample responses.
Step 5: Confirm Responses in Spreadsheet
Go back to your spreadsheet to make sure your sample responses are coming through. (Sometimes there’s a lag of a few seconds.) Practice sorting your columns by name or date. The order of the responses in the spreadsheet does not matter; future responses will just show up below them.
Step 6: Identify Invisibles
Create a new tab in your spreadsheet.
Step 7: Report to Parents
Sort by camper and date.
Here are the links to the three sample documents used in the presentation: the back end form, the front end form, and the spreadsheet. In the sample spreadsheet, note the second worksheet (Sheet2) where the “invisibles” are identified using the countif function.
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