Members on the Move Part III
Making the Most Out of Your FacilitiesRead More
There is no question that junior programs and activities are becoming invaluable as the private club industry continues to shift toward becoming more multi-generational and family-centric. In Part One of this three-part series, we discussed four great ways to create the freeform outdoor activities that entertain and educate our youngest club members.
Giving children the opportunity to plant their own gardens, watch them grow and harvest them for meals is not only fun and educational, but also allows them to develop skills for the future. Exploring the outdoors and all that nature has to provide helps to blossom a child’s knowledge of the life cycle — at zero cost. Encouraging hiking around the club’s property boasts numerous health benefits for children and their families, physically and mentally. Other ‘free play’ and open-ended activities foster divergent thinking for children. And what’s the best way to create these types of robust programs that are fun, engaging and safe? Hiring the right people!
Member experience is not only impacted by the events, programs and activities that occur in private clubs, but also by the staff members who run them — and youth programs and activities are no exception. In Part Two, we discuss how essential it is for clubs to be selective in hiring staff for junior programs and how this experience extends far beyond our children’s enjoyment.
Staffing makes a difference — and certainly it is more about the quality of people than the quantity. Staff personalities are so important in all aspects of private clubs; but when it comes to working with children, the stakes are even greater. So what should you search for when looking to staff those junior programs? We spoke with an expert on the subject: Ms. Andrea Curthoys, Assistant General Manager at The Beach Club in Los Angeles.
“Confidence is key,” says Curthoys. “A confident staff member is adept to engaging and entertaining children, which is a trait we look for in hiring the right people.” She explains how crucial organizational skills are as well. Quality events and programs for children are nurtured through an organized staff, which helps to develop substantive events that children will enjoy. This also inspires confidence from others knowing that these staff members are reliable, dependable, and capable of caring for our children.
Ultimately, members want their club to be a ‘home away from home’ for their entire family. If parents trust that the staff is going to know what is going on at all times with their children – and that their children are enjoying their time at the club – they will be more likely to encourage their kids to return. Having an organized staff can also result in a better reputation for the club, which can have a positive impact on things like camp attendance.
“The more structured your camp is with a specific goal, the better response you get from the parents,” says Curthoys. The quality of staff for camps is imperative to enhancing the value proposition for private clubs. “Your staff has to consider program aesthetics, themes and the flow of activities during the development process,” says Curthoys. As new ideas are conceived for children’s programming activities, the staff must consider options for transitions between these activities; hence, there must be a natural flow from one program to the next. It would not be ideal for children to go from an energizing activity, such as kickball, to a calm game of ‘Go Fish’. Overall, when your staff is structured with a specific goal in mind, you will reap a better response from both the children and their families.
And while it is important for the parents to feel comfortable, it’s about pleasing the kids, too! After all, we’re talking about their programs, so it is important to find personalities that children relate to as well. Curthoys looks for individuals with whom are full of spunk. “You want sparkplugs who are creative, energetic and can build great relationships,” explained Curthoys.
In reality, these relationships are what truly engage children and keep them excited about spending more time at the club. If children want to be at the club, they’ll start to encourage their parents to spend more time there, too! Suddenly, the club becomes a destination for the entire family, creating greater value for the family unit as a whole. Trusting parents will feel comfortable playing a round of golf, a game of tennis or meeting their friends for a drink at the bar, knowing their child is safe at camp, building friendships and developing life skills. And in reality, children are the next generation of club members. By building relationships with them at a young age, children will grow up creating lasting memories at the club and will want to continue this into their adult lives and be able to share those types of experiences with families of their own one day!
Then there is the element of familiarity. “We have a high staff retention rate, which gives kids consistency every year that they participate in our camp,” says Curthoys. The camp staff at The Beach Club includes some individuals who began working there in high school and returned each summer during college. “Children are more likely to return for activities and events when they know that their favorite staff members are hosting them.” Curthoys also adds the importance of promoting staff from within. Not only are these the staff members that children know and love, but it also increases the likelihood that the staff will stay at the club for long periods and contribute to that consistency.
And while it takes a balance of structure and flexibility to run these types of programs at the club, the ultimate goal is to let kids be kids! Today’s busy lifestyles can be hectic and scheduled, but children will frequently want to return when they feel like their club is an escape from their structured lives. Clubs should offer them freedom to play sports, engage in outdoor activities, socialize with other youth, and, above all else, have fun – all while giving their parents peace of mind that they are in a safe, friendly, and welcoming environment.