The Camp Pivot

As Pigeon was forming, I had an interesting conversation with a good friend that changed Pigeon.

By JON MARSON

We were talking in the middle of over a hundred little kids dribbling basketballs in a school gym. As I told him about my plan for Pigeon, he told me he needed that.  I asked him how this could help him. He told me he has over a hundred kids that need to be checked-in and checked-out. It needs to be fast and secure and more importantly, he needs to know who’s here now and where they are.

I had been focused on small business, like the place where I lost track of Andrew but, this was interesting.

So, I went to a kid’s camp conference and talked with 26 different camps. 80% of them thought this was a great idea!  30% of them scheduled a follow-up meeting on the spot.

Over the following year, I met with those camps on nearly a monthly basis, attended check-in and check-outs, talked to camp admins to get to know the camp industry. Learning their goals, hopes, successes, lessons and challenges and learning how Pigeon can address some of their challenges in a new way.

Safety and security was top priority for everyone and our system provides a novel way for camps to improve safety and security while actually improving the experience for their campers!

When was the last time you saw safety tools that were cool and attractive?

When I think of safety, I see Ralphie’s little brother in my head from “A Christmas Story” when he’s wearing multiple layers of warm clothes – so many layers, he can barely walk. Pigeon is the opposite, it actually reduces the amount of stuff you have to carry while actually improving safety and security!!

If kids don’t enjoy camp, they’re not coming back.  I learned how important this is and saw how many different camps approached this and found a common thread.  People running an arts camp approached things similarly to sports camps – which was surprising! I just thought that arts and sports would be very different people with different approaches. Nope.  You have people who are trying to create a great experience for other little people. People are people and there are some common things that you should be doing to make the experience awesome. I found that Pigeon could address some of these basic things like: Helping camp staff get to know their campers by name and maybe something important about them, allergy info, basic guardian info., these are fundamentals.

As I got to know these awesome people and developed a better understanding of what they’re working on, I discovered something. Pigeon can give them a new tool to engage with kids.  You could set meaningful goals and help the kiddos see their progress towards a goal.

Have you ever been staring at a progress indicator on a screen that didn’t seem to be moving? How long were you willing to stare at that unfulfilling progress indicator before you bailed?

Your kids are like you.  They experience this at camp!  Sometimes when they’re in the tedious daily grind of tennis, basketball, learning to draw or program, they don’t feel like they’re making progress and decide they’re either not good at X or they don’t like it.  They decide to bail.
Now, you are the parent and you can tell them they’re going to stick with it and they are getting better but, we can offer a different approach. The camp can set meaningful goals and each time the kids check-in and check-out at camp, they can see their progress towards meaningful goals and they will be motivated to stick with it and achieve those goals.  This actually improves their experience at the camp and if they stick with it over the long term, they will start to master their craft and become interesting people with a skill!

I see this as personal enrichment and see Pigeon as a tool to help parents and camps to motivate their kids to stick with it.

The more I learned about camps, the more I came to see how Pigeon was built for camps!  We address safety and security in a new and novel way while providing a tool that actually improves the overall camp experience and delivers motivation to kiddos to stay engaged over the long-term.

So, we had a pivot. We started to focus on developing our first product for camps.