CISV Opinion: Summer Camp to Step Up

Disclaimer: This is another post about the nonprofit I work with called CISV. I’ve talked about this with many CISVers. I’ll try to give you credit for your idea when I can but I may not remember exactly who told me. Feel free to comment to let me know or just to tell me your opinion on the subject.

The aspect that is easiest to chat about and dissect is the name change. As part of Motion 5 for AIM 2012 (Mtn05-AIM12-ISU New Summer Camp Name), the International Summer Camp Committee proposes that the name of the Summer Camp program be changed to Step Up.

First of all, I would like to say that it is really easy to criticize others’ work. It is not easy to create. I greatly respect everyone on the Summer Camp Committee and all the work you’ve created.

Things I like about the motion:

The committee admits that there needs to be a change.

Some background: I went to a Summer Camp when I was 15 (Buskerud, Norway) and my staff did a fantastic job. We really learned how to be leaders with firsthand experience. The staff also did a phenomenal job of helping us reflect on our performance which helped us learn from our experiences. No it wasn’t always easy, but we learned a lot about ourselves and how to work with others.

I was a leader at a Summer Camp last year. I know plenty of young people who have been to Summer Camps. From what I gather from these experiences, the program has gone a bit downhill. Due to lack of high level training of leaders and staff AND participants, everyone has different ideas of what a Summer Camp is and how it should be run (and a lot of that has to do with how ISC is different than Village). With all the work the committee has put in, their defined model looks a LOT like the model camp I attended back when I was a kid.

Here are the current improvements the committee has worked on in the past few years. I dig it.

  1. We now have an improved structure.
  2. We have enhanced the Programme’s Goals and Indicators.
  3. We are strengthening the youth’s involvement in CISV.
  4. We aim to elevate the youth’s awareness of social responsibility.

Things I don’t like about the motion:

Here is the rationale for the name change:

The new name we are suggesting for the Summer Camp Programme is the final “label” that we hope will, in only two words, better define what it is all about and what we expect the participants (both youth and adults) will get from it.

Here is the problem; this goal is not achieved through the name Step Up.

As Martin said, this doesn’t make it any easier to explain what the program is to non-CISVers. Heck, this wouldn’t help current CISVers know what this program is.

As far as search engine optimization, an aspect that is ever important in this digital world, Step Up is just as good as Summer Camp and that is NOT GOOD.

step aerobics

From an American perspective, Step Up immediately makes me think of aerobic step exercise… and then to fat camp.


A few of us Twitter-Savvy CISVers Brainstormed Ideas for a name change:

  • Pioneer Experience
  • Summinar
  • Megaopolis
  • Town
  • Global Youth Summit
  • Youth Leadership Camp
  • Leadership Development Camp
  • Leadinar
  • Evolve Camp
  • Future Leader’s Camp
  • Local Work

I think the organization, attn.: Trustees, needs a name that actually explains what the camp is about. It need not be flashy- that is [one of the reasons] what the camp theme is for.

Bottom Line: ‘Step Up’ is less clear than ‘Summer Camp’.

11 thoughts on “CISV Opinion: Summer Camp to Step Up

  1. Props Katie, I dig it. *major hand shaking* Definitely agree with all parts, both on the development of the program and the name issue!

      • I think it would be great if you could propose an alternative, but I don’t see CISV USA hopping on that bandwagon… It would probably make us look too much like bossy Americans (even though I imagine it will be incredibly frustrating for the Summer Camp Committee to have no alternatives if the motion isn’t passed).

  2. Do you think it could possibly go over if I wrote up the motion and submitted it to the Board of Trustees and EC? I’m leaning towards Youth Leadership Camp. Because then, when people talk about it, they’d call it CISV Youth Leadership Camp. That name is easy to understand what the program is about and is easily searchable.

    It might help us with SEO when competing with other organizations for participants. I know that SEO is one of the goals of the new international website, why not think about it when re-naming a program?

  3. I know the Summer Camp committee asked for feedback from Summer Camp participants in 2010 and 2011 but… actually… I was at a Summer Camp in 2011 and no one asked me for my opinion.

    How many other participants missed out on contributing to this?

  4. The word “Camp” is out of question. When you say that Step Up is less clear than Summer Camp is because the Programme changed and it’s not “Summer Camp” any more. The new name has to reflect the re-structured Programme and not the old one.

    Bottom line is that we are not just a camp. We want to be an experience, a Programme, a path, an action. A change in the life.

    It may be ambitious, we know, but people need to start understanding that what we “sell” in CISV is a Step towards Active Global Citizenship, it is not CAMPS.

    When people say it is harder to explain is because they are lazy in doing the effort. CISV is not easy to explain. It neve has been. But we have been explaining it with all our passion a we collected thousands of participants. Everybody that has been to an ISU knows that we are more than a camp.
    If some opinions were not collected in 2011 it was just because the staff didn’t plan and run the activity that is attached to the motion rationale. 90% of the feedback we got from the PARTICIPANTS (and not from the leasers)were on the same page. Our efforts to improve the programme and take it to the next level has lasted for more than 10 years. We know that after this we will have to start doing work on new name awareness.
    Finally, it is hard to accept critics as “it reminds me of the gym” or “It reminds me of a bad movie” or else. If this is true, words like “Seminar Camp” in many cultures just relate to “a school to become priests”. We CISVers made them OUR Seminar Camps. People know what they are now, even if in Italy every time I tell to a 17 year old “you’ll go to a Seminar” he’ll tell me he doesn’t want to go.

    ISU Chair

  5. Pingback: CISV Opinion: Summer Camp to Step Up (part II) « Travel Out Loud

  6. Pingback: Opinion Of The JB Review: Why I Don’t Agree With “Pathways” Conceptually | Travel Out Loud

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