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Camp Augusta and Covid-19

The Financial Impact

…for our little non-profit camp in the woods

As we navigate through this uncertain time, we need to make some tough decisions about the future of Camp Augusta. 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 exists and operates from a financial point of view, and how we are impacted by the current pandemic.

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. 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.

We Need Your Help!

Camp Augusta is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To make a tax-deductible donation to support us during this challenging time and help ensure that Camp Augusta continues to serve its campers, please click here.

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