Board Update: Winter 2018

In the face of cold weather and snow, on January 6th LAJF board members, alumni, guests and friends gathered in New York City for the Winter Board meeting. 

Key items on the agenda for the board meeting included an update on the organizational audit and financials, the renovations to the Clinton campus from the Buildings and Grounds committee, an update on the recent work from the Program Committee, an evaluation of the first year with the new Strategic Plan as well as LAJF staff updates on fundraising, hiring of summer staff and camper selection.

Audit and Finance

LAJF closed the fiscal year on September 30, ending its third year in a row with balanced budgets. The Audit Committee worked with staff and the audit firm during the months of November and December. LAJF continues to have a “clean” audit, with no material errors found. The Auditor was satisfied with our accounting practices and procedures for all accounts and fundraising campaigns. The Auditor was pleased with our increase in fundraising and the trajectory of the Strategic Plan to diversify funding streams and decrease the draw on the portfolio. The Audit Committee is developing a manual of checks and balances to assure the continuation of best-practices.

The Treasurer reported that including cash in our money market account, we started 2018 with over $11M (not counting money from donations). At the same time, we are informed by our investment advisor to expect headwinds in the investment horizon. This cautionary outlook spurs us to review our current course. Over the coming weeks and months, F&I will discuss the alternative pathways to maintain financial health. The Finance and Investment Committee over the coming months plans to offer views on an appropriate spending rate from the portfolio, and offer input to staff and Strategic Planning Committee on how the spending rate might translate in future budget cycles.

The first quarter of fundraising yielded $270,391 which is $43,285 more than the first quarter of last year. The donations thus far represent 41% of our annual goal of $650,000. We also have an additional $117,500 in pledges. Of the 308 donors who gave already, 115 had not given last year. Executive Director, Helene Mattera, also reported that LAJF is rated “Platinum” on the Guidestar website, which rates nonprofits based on financial reporting and transparency.


Planned Renovations

In the fall of 2017, LAJF staff and board members met with an architect to finalize the drawings for renovations and upkeep of the Clinton campus. Planned in phases, the renovations focus on improvements to the main building including long-term infrastructure investments and smaller modifications to make spaces more inclusive and functional for off-season use.

In accordance with the Clinton Facilities Assessment, published earlier this year, the initial steps of the renovation project have already been taken by the Facilities Manager, Cameron Rylance. New flooring and updated sleeping facilities in the west-wing of the main building have also been completed to accommodate summer staff and off-season activities.

Beyond making significant improvements on the utility of the building during the camp season, the proposed renovations open brand new opportunities for rentals and extended programming in the off-season. The renovations will not impact the current capacity and occupancy limits during the Camp season.


The Strategic Planning Committee

President-elect, and Strategic Planning Committee Chair, Tim Conners summarized the results of the first year of the 5-year Strategic Plan. Among the highlights of the summary is the minimized draw on the portfolio in the Fiscal year 16-17, landing at a 5.2% draw compared to the Strategic Plan goal of 6.6%. The initial goal of raising $650k in the first year of the 5-year plan was not met, but it was reported that fundraising had increased by 20% to over $562,000. The Strategic Plan outlines annual fundraising, program and facility milestones towards the reopening of the Red Hook campus. We aim to increase fundraising to meet the annual costs of operating two, 7-week Camps, while also preserving the investment portfolio.

You can download and review the full report from the Strategic Planning Committee on the CRS Alumni Forum.


Program Committee

Prompted by the 5-year Strategic Plan, Program Committee Chair Carl Manalo reported on the recent analysis of, and discussions on various potential program models from recent Program Committee meetings. In accordance with the 5-year Strategic Plan, the program Committee was charged with considering alternative program models that could be further developed or explored in the future, including two simultaneous 7-week programs, should the fundraising goals of the 5-year Strategic Plan be met. The Committee has continued to emphasize the curricular components that support the sustainability of programming at Camp Rising Sun while brainstorming ways to keep of program competitive, innovative, and successful in the 21st century. Ongoing critical analysis and discussion of the merits and demerits of different models for the Camp Rising Sun program have led to a better, firmer understanding of current areas of success as well as improvement.

The Program committee also reported on a recent summary analysis of the pre & post-surveys conducted by campers each summer since 2011. Analysis of seven years of survey results suggested that with the shortened 4-week seasons, Camp Rising Sun continues to manifest in its participants, a significant impact on areas such as openness to feedback, confidence in leadership, confidence in expression of own ideas and confidence in engaging diverse people.


Summer-staff hiring and Camper selection

Alumni Relations Coordinator, Mads Nissen, reported on the ongoing hiring of summer-staff for the camp year 2018. Summer staff hiring is now underway and applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis. If you are interested in working at camp or know someone that you believe would be a good fit, the staff applications are available on our website.

Camper Selection for 2018 is underway. 38 regions have accepted the invitation to select campers for the 2018 season, spanning 26 countries and 9 US states. Following the board meeting, selection volunteers from the New York Alumni Association (NYAA) met to begin reviewing local camper applicants as the New York & New Jersey application deadline has already passed. Camper application deadlines vary by region. Please view the camper application for detailed deadline information or contact us with questions.


Board Composition

Alumnus Timothy Conners, ‘73 from Minnesota will step into the presidency role in April. The Board currently includes 19 members including alumni (16), a parent of alumni (1) and friends of the organization (2). Alumni board members represent six US states including California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, DC and two countries abroad- Germany and the Netherlands. Anyone can nominate a board member at anytime. Please email with your recommendations. We look for applicants who have demonstrated their service to Camp on a committee or active participation in their local alumni association.


The cocktail reception

After the board meeting, the NYAA hosted a cocktail reception. We mingled with over 30 alumni, including some of our recent campers and board members. Thank you to the NYAA for hosting an enjoyable and lively event!