Back to the Future (camp edition!)

Wednesday October 21st is “Back to the Future Day“.

If you haven’t seen the Back to the Future movies… I’m sorry. You should probably just go and watch them now. It’s ok, I’ll wait. Priorities people!!

Anyway, for anyone who’s been living under a rock or, *ahem* in the woods, for the last 30(ish) years – here’s why Back to the Future Day is important for camp folk.

In Back to the Future II, Marty McFly travels to the future from 1985 to do some stuff and some things in 2015 (and he arrives on, you guessed it, October 21st).

Now aside from the obvious AWESOME theme day potential (if anyone makes a Delorean for their theme, I’d like to see pictures please! And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, well… I told you to go watch the movie. I even waited!)

Anyway, the other really interesting thing about Back to the Future II are the “predictions” the creators made about what life would be like in 2015. (Interestingly enough, according to the movie’s Wikipedia page, Director Robert Zemeckis claims that they weren’t trying to make accurate predictions about the future, but just trying to make it funny.) Some of their predictions came true, like video chat, flat screen wall mounted tv’s, Florida now has a Major League Team (which wasn’t a thing in 1989 when the movie was released) and the Chicago Cubs are evidently doing well and could be headed to the World Series. (?) Go sports.
(There were lots of things that they unfortunately got wrong too… I’m yet to be able to purchase a hoverboard or flying car. COM’ON SCIENCE! Where are your priorities??)

So how is this relevant to camp you may ask?

Well, because for an industry that hasn’t fundamentally changed a lot in the last 150 years (give or take) we have seen some massive, drastic, incredible shifts in the last 10 – 15 years; heck I’d even go so far as to say I’ve seen some pretty big changes in the past 5 years!

We as camp professionals need to be constantly innovating, learning, creating, and making predictions about what the camp landscape will look like over the next 5, 10, 15 or even 30 years.

If you had told a camp director in 1985 that one of their biggest struggles today would be to keep campers and staff from texting and snapping photos with their cell phone while at camp, they would have thought you were bananas!

handset-1985
Or imagine walking into a 1985 camping conference and doing a session on camp marketing – “How to target and market to potential campers using social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook”. They would think you were just making up words and then they would ask you why your jeans are so low and your bangs are so flat… but that is an entirely different post.

Mike_fj40 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Here’s a fun exercise, take a minute to imagine what camp culture will look like 30 years from now.

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Parenting
  • Politics
  • Back to nature movement
  • Traditional vs current/ future gender expectations/ norms, feminism, LBGT, personal identity
  • Environmental landscape, Relationships to wildlife, sustainability
  • Education, learning, theories, schedules, homeschooling/ unschooling
  • Insurance, current “lawsuit culture” and impact on future
  • Consumer/ brand engagement, Information gathering
  • Types of activities offered (*ahem* hover boards??), Children’s interests
  • Role of faith/ spirituality in society
  • The term “camp”
  • Professional development/ designation for camping industry
  • Speciality camps
  • Economic climate
  • Actual climate (changes)
  • Buildings/ Architecture/ Design
  • Safety, Security
  • Science & Medicine, Health and wellness of society, Technology, Robotics,
  • Advances in physiological & developmental understanding of children/ youth/ learners

These are just a few of the many, many topics that will influence what future camp looks like. Not only is it important for camping professionals to keep an ‘ear to the ground’ for trends in camping, marketing, child development, etc. but we are also in a position to influence and create those trends. Which is pretty neat.

So, happy Back to the Future day!
To celebrate, take some time to think about what your life, camping, and the world will be like on October 21st 2045.
Let me know if I missed any major topics that will influence the camping industry.
And I’d love to see what predictions you come up with!

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