I have been the Site Manager for Danemead Scout Campsite now for just over 3 years. In those three years I really have become good at herding cats with the occasional one managing to escape my grasp!
A lot of people think this is my full time job. I can assure you that this is 100% a voluntary role and I take no expenses from the campsite. Away from Danemead I am a full time Train Driver for Greater Anglia and have a family which comprises of Carmen (my fiancé), my daughter Megan, our loyal mutt Breeze (who you will see by my side whenever I’m on site) and our two cats Sam and Cleo.
So, what does it take to run a scout campsite? Well it’s a lot more than I expected! I’ve put together four average weeks of my Site Manager life and will explain some of our systems we have in place to make sure all our customers get the best experience! I hope you enjoy.
This week I have arranged to meet three builders on site along with our surveyor/project manager Steve. As most of you will be aware, we are in the middle of applying for a lottery grant to refurbish all of Uncle Toms Cabin and make it a lot more comfortable and accessible for disabled users. Part of this process is to get three independent quotes. In previous weeks we had a specification of works written up by Steve and this was the final part of bringing everything together for the lottery application.
Somehow I’ve managed to arrange this meeting when I’m supposed to be at work! So once again Carmen bails me out and goes and meets Steve and the builders along with Megan and Breeze. Luckily I have an amazing support network at the site and always have someone to help me out should I need it. After 3 hours of being at site ( I told Carmen 1!!!) I get a phone call from Carmen telling me it’s all done and her and a tired baby and dog are heading home. Once I get home it’s a quick debrief on how the day went and then Danemead is banned from discussion for the rest of the night! Or until I get a phone call.
On average my day usually starts with me making a coffee and quickly going through my emails. On average I get through 5-8 emails a day along with 2 tickets which are generated when someone contacts us through social media, the website or the ask us email. This provides us with a paper trail should a complaint be raised. It also means we comply with GDPR. Again I have support with this task and don’t manage all this alone. Ann (Danemead’s treasurer) and Steve (my digital advisor) monitor the tickets and emails and answer what they can. Otherwise I would truly be swamped!
So this morning is an average morning. However this time I have an email worth noting. It is from the head elephant keeper at Whipsnade Zoo. He had been on site at the weekend and noticed all the tree work taking place around the site. Apparently the brush from the Hornbeams makes wonderful elephant food (who knew!) and he wanted to know would we be able to provide them with the brush when we do our tree work. All our tree work is completed by Capel Manor College during the winter. Students from the college are brought to site and taught in a safe environment how to become qualified tree surgeons. I email back and inform Whipsnade this should not be a problem. I would just need to discuss with the instructors. At this time we are still sorting out all the kinks but I’m hoping to have advertised on the website that we are elephant feed providers by the winter.
The week is finished by me popping up to site in the afternoon to see crew members John and Mark.M even though we have no campers on site. They are taking the opportunity of the cabin being empty to install the new velux windows in the new leader lounge. When I arrive on site I’m greeted to both John and Mark up a scaffold tower. No window just a massive hole in the roof. John (my assistant manager - maintenance) explains it would be going a lot better if the tools were up to the job. We have been talking about new tools for the past six months and the committee had previously agreed us getting them so I quickly have a look and Screwfix have a deal on a bundle of tools we have been looking to get. So within 5 minutes I’ve bought the tools and I’m back in the car on my way to Screwfix. Didn’t even get a coffee!
Half an hour later, Johns grinning like a Cheshire cat. Marks moaning because he should have left an hour earlier for a birthday dinner and I have a coffee in my hand! Window still isn’t in though!