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Camp Augusta and Covid-19

The Financial Impact

…for our little non-profit camp in the woods

For all registered 2020 summer campers and family campers, please click here to access your ‘Flicker the Campfire Cancellation Form’ to initiate the refund/donation process.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Augusta’s financial situation

As we navigate through this uncertain time, we have had to make some tough decisions about the future of Camp Augusta. The idea of Camp Augusta simply ceasing to exist forever is a painful, yet very real possibility. The financial aspect is an important, and complex piece of the puzzle. This page has been created to offer a more detailed picture of how Augusta, a 501(C)(3) non-profit, exists and operates from a financial point of view, and how we are impacted by the current pandemic.

The brief version of this page is shown below, and in the video. Please read on for the more detailed version.
  • Over half of our total expenses for the year are spent prior to any on-site programming, and are covered entirely by tuition.
  • If we were to give everyone 100% of their tuition back, we would cease to exist beyond June 2020.
  • By withholding all non-refundable deposits, and using our entire savings, we may be able to survive. We would begin 2021 completely penniless and would be facing significant challenges to ensure our longevity. This will be considered a tax deductible donation and everyone will receive a tax letter from us for their 2021 taxes.
  • All 2020 campers will be considered returners for 2021 and will be guaranteed a spot.
  • In order to move into 2021 on very solid ground, we need to raise at least an additional $500,000 in donations, beyond deposits, leaving us with most of our savings.
  • In order to move into 2021 on shaky footing, we need to raise at least an additional $300,000 in donations, beyond deposits, leaving us with less than half of our savings, and less room for any unforeseen circumstances. 
  • In almost any case, 100% of the Augusta staff will be laid off mid-June onward.
  • We have included suggested donations for each session here

The pain of missing camp, coupled with the financial implication, is a two-fold experience we wish no one to experience. If there was another way for us to save camp, we’d do it in a heartbeat. The unfortunate truth is that if we chose not to keep all non-refundable deposits, we are choosing to close Camp Augusta’s doors forever by default — ending Augusta’s life after 89 years. We know that this result is not what anyone wanted or expected, and it’s the only way we see for Augusta to survive.

The uncertainty of the future seems to only add more pressure on each of us.  We here at Augusta are experiencing a great deal of sadness and fear ourselves. Many of us are now wondering what we can do to pick up the pieces. The love and commitment that each of us have for camp, allows us to go to extraordinary lengths to serve the children and families that we care so deeply about.

The Detailed Version

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, 90% of our expenses are the running costs to make summer happen, this is where 95% of tuition goes. An additional 10% covers facility improvements, program development and savings (5% of this comes from tuition and 5% from donations). Over the past 16 years, we have worked our way out of the debt we inherited with the camp, and built our savings to the $550k we have now. These savings allow us to think about bigger projects to add to Augusta, such as new ropes elements, improved bathhouses etc.

Augusta has been saving additional money over the years through your generosity in our fundraising efforts. We started the year with $550K, which we hoped to use to replace a bathhouse, as well as keep and build a nest egg against an unknown future. Without summer tuition revenue, camp’s $550K of savings are not sufficient to cover the money already spent in anticipation of running camp this summer, and there is no insurance possible for a situation like this. This will mean that 100% of our staff will be laid off from mid-June onwards.

Without donations, Camp Augusta’s future is uncertain. We are not able to assuredly survive this alone.

Camp Augusta applied for and received a PPP loan through the Small Business Administration in the middle of April. We prepared our materials in advance, and within hours of the live application process being available, we applied.  While the PPP loan is helpful, it isn’t a game changer. The best version of the calculation allows us to create a parachute landing out of a crashing plane, rather than without a parachute — meaning, now that we are not able to run summer programming at all, it will help camp close up shop in an intelligent and considerate manner, rather than simply walking away. 

To conserve cash, between February and May, we delayed non-essential expenditures, including the arrival of staff and set-up of camp, program supplies, planned facility projects, buying t-shirts, and more.

Wait, what?  What money have you spent before the summer begins, and why?

Glad you asked, and if you want to know even more information, please get in touch with us live.

You might imagine that as a Californian summer camp, we make a lot of money and would be able to manage without donations, however we are in the bottom 10% (price) of all comparable camps in Northern California. We also have the longest staff training (in America), have the highest full-staff-to-camper ratio, and have the most extensive clinic and program offerings of any camp in the state (all things that help create the Augusta you know and love). As a non-profit, the vast majority of our revenue from tuition covers our running costs. We save 5% of our revenue for facility improvements, program development, and maintaining a roughly $500K “rainy day fund.”

Here are two pie charts — the first is our normal, annual expenses.  The second is our expenses up until the summer runs. Note that we significantly curtailed our expenses for non-critical things such as program orders (which would normally be considerably higher), at the start of March out of caution.

Expenses Before the Summer

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Normal Annual Expenses

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As in any year, much of the cost to prepare and operate a camp is incurred prior to the camp season. The elves begin in November, gathering interest and preparing for the registration season. Our hiring team begin accepting applications in September in the hope to have all our staff hired by January so as to guide everyone through the pre-camp work before their arrival. Numerous facility improvements are done in the empty Fall and Winter.

In January, we have a large crew preparing for the summer — investing in it.  Although Augusta is magic, and we’d love to magically have staff, campers, site, and everything else materialize by the end of April, it’s love and hard work, not magic, that makes the summer happen.

You’re an inquiring mind, so below is where the money goes.

Staff

  • 4 Office Elves
  • 5 full-time hiring and onboarding team
  • 4 part-time hiring and onboarding team
  • Bookkeeper
  • Executive Director and Director
  • CIRCLE and JC staff
  • Program Director
  • Development crew – staff training, village/cabin life, and special programs

Site

  • Maintenance and construction crew
  • Planned facility improvements
  • Site supplies of wide description
  • Fire clearance
  • Tree management

Other

  • Insurance — $150K a year
  • Program supplies (we spend a TON more, but halted in early March)
  • Utilities (we’re solar, and our loan payment is $30K, but our electricity is “free”)

And . . .

  • Water bottles?  Yup, we bought them for the store (which makes no profit), and now we have them.
  • The chart does NOT include startup costs in Nov/Dec to begin again.
  • Some costs are annual, and not able to be prorated, like utilities, copier, loan, CampMinder, etc.
  • Does NOT include staff from June onward
  • Does NOT include maintaining the site going forward at a static level, let alone a slowly improving one.

What about Randy, Kerry, Ronnie, Ericka, Oona, and many of the other beloved Augusta staff?

ALL of them will be 100% unemployed from mid-June onward. For a place that often feels more like a family than a company, this will be very painful.

Operationally, it will be devastating.

We are working hard to make sure this isn’t goodbye.

The Non-Refundable $500 Deposit

We understand that retaining the non-refundable deposit may not feel good or comfortable for some of our families. We truly didn’t want to go down this path, and after many hours of discussion internally and with our Board of Directors, we could not find another option. In our 89 years, we have never had a reason to use the force majeure clause until now to ensure the survival of Augusta beyond this crisis.

Please know the non-refundable deposit along with any additional donations offered to Camp Augusta are tax-deductible in accordance with gifts to 501(c)(3) organizations.

We have had a number of people ask us what their ‘portion’ is, meaning how much of a given individual’s tuition has been spent in an operating year, without any summer-time-itself expenses. This is a difficult question to answer and quantify, so below are a few different scenarios, and how that translates to equitable donations we would need in order to survive, and, in a best-case scenario, thrive. In the first column, we have shown what the various portions would be if everyone was able to donate at this time, based on the length of each session, rather than the tuition paid (which we understand is not possible for everyone).

The reality of these numbers is that nearly 50% of any given tuition has effectively been spent before the summer has begun. We acknowledge that this is a significant amount, and we cannot reasonably expect every family to be able to donate 50% of their tuition at this time, and without the summer running at all. We have included a suggested donation amount which, if each person donated (beyond any deposits) within this range or more, would put us in a manageable position moving into 2021 (assuming next year goes along fairly normally for us). With that, we would still have less than half of our savings left, which still leaves us in a vulnerable position.

Please note: In all scenarios, we still face significant challenge, and our staff will still be fully laid off from mid-June onwards. For us to reopen in 2021 with the best chance for long-term viability, our savings are critical.

Suggested Donation Amounts

Amounts shown are in addition to the $500 non-refundable deposit
Actual donation amount we would need to keep our savings intact
Suggested Donation Amount to leave us with up to 50% of our savings intact
Memorial Day (per family) $255 + $500 (deposit) 
$110 to $145 + $500 (deposit)
June FC (per family) $180 + $500 (deposit)
$80 to $105 + $500 (deposit)
Mini-Camp $180 + $500 (deposit)
$100 to $130 + $500 (deposit)
1 Week Session $475 + $500 (deposit)
$300 to $420 + $500 (deposit)
2 Week Session $915 + $500 (deposit) 
$650 to $875 + $500 (deposit)
PGR (per family) $325 + $500 (deposit)
$130 to $170 + $500 (deposit)
August FC (per family) $185 + $500 (deposit)
$80 to $105 + $500 (deposit)
Labor Day FC (per family) $200 + $500 (deposit)
$110 to $145 + $500 (deposit)
Wilderness $475 + $500 (deposit)
$300 to $420 + $500 (deposit)

Of course, not every family will be able to donate at the above levels.  Whatever you’re able to contribute will help Augusta be there for you in 2021.

For Registered 2020 Campers
If you are registered in summer camp and/or family camp, please click here to log-in to your online account and complete the ‘Flicker the Campfire – Cancellation Form’ to initiate your refund/donation process.

What 2021 looks like is uncertain; going into it with no savings in the bank is a scary and uncertain position we’re desperately looking to avoid.

We truly appreciate your time and attention, and we can’t wait to share in the joy of Augusta again soon!

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