Survey 2010 – The Chair Replies

…actually, that’s a funny image…I’d probably jump pretty far if my chair started talking!

In any case, YES!  This is a quick blog on our ‘backup’ site (ie. if campferal.org is down due to being upgraded, downtime, construction, or whatnot) in reply to the surveys you lovely campers filled out!  I’m just taking the most commonly asked questions and hopefully giving a decent answer, as well as pulling out the most interesting suggestions and comments (at least to me)!

Every year we hold a survey, and every year we take the advice campers give us and try to put it into action.  This year, I figured it might be nice to actually reply so you can see we’re paying attention!  In some cases, I was immediately inspired and made sure the idea or suggestion was part of policy or schedule in 2011.  In others…they are questions that come up each year for which there is no easy answer.

Without further ado…THE SURVEY!!

“Feral should run earlier in the summer…” “…different dates :(“

Each year this is a common question: why Labour Day weekend?  Feral! should be earlier so a) we can have nicer weather, and b) people can have some time free before school.  Also, we conflict with Eurofurence, DragonCon, MFM and many other furry and fandom conventions.

The answer is actually very simple: we are offered a seven-day span, in which we choose five days, and those dates are generally going to be around Labour Day weekend.  If we want the con to run over a weekend (ie. instead of Monday to Friday) then Labour Day weekend is the only option.

This isn’t out of spite or anything…the summer program run by Arowhon happens according to the Toronto School calendar.  After that program is done they run what is called an ‘Outdoor Centre,’ which Feral! takes part in.  There is one other group ahead of us, and they have seniority, so they get those dates.  We can’t run earlier than that week because…well, that’s when the kids are at camp, and THAT is the whole reason for the site existing in the first place 😉

The camp site loves us.  In one case actually scheduled us during their time off!! That’s right…we are so much fun it’s not like work for them!!

The long and the short of it is…if we want to stay at our current site, a place that offers us so much and has become an amazing friend to Feral! and the furs, then we work around their schedule.  Trust me…each year we try to bump ourselves up one week earlier, and we’ll keep trying!

“The Cabin System…the website…kinda sucked…”

After ‘Weather’ (60% of the ‘Least Favourite’ survey question) the biggest complaint was the cabin system and website. Yup…we dropped the ball on that one.

We have been trying some new ideas the last two years, and have decided to simplify in 2011.  We are moving to a CMS-based website, which basically means that there’s less work for us keeping it updated and to change over year to year. A kind camper has offered his services in creating a proper registration and cabin system for our site in 2011.  We want this to work, and we’ll make it work!

A quick rundown of changes:

  • a reliable cabin and registration system
  • easier cabin mate selection
  • questions for newbies or people who don’t know what cabin to join to help us create better cabins
  • the option to choose your first, second and third favourite cabin in advance of camp (ie. do you like cabin 14?  And kinda like 21 and 38 A?  Let us know and we’ll make sure you get one of them!)
  • A ‘quiet’ side of camp, and a…well…not ‘loud’ side, but a side of camp where people can stay up later to chat in their cabin, thus helping to ensure campers get the experience they want!

This is just the start.  You spoke, we listened…the cabin and registration system are very important to getting off on the right foot, and it is a priority for us this year!

“Can we arrive earlier on the first day?  ie. start Feral! at noon rather than 5!?”

We certainly can!  We’re looking into this for 2011.  What it really changes for us is our set up for registration on site, and of course the departure of the bus: for this to work, the bus would have to leave Yorkdale at about 9 am.  If we find that campers are cool with this (meaning, of course, planes would have to land the day before or VERY early in the morning) we could consider making this change!  Again, this is something we’ll consider and discuss with you guys through the year!

“The Price Tag.  Why does Feral! cost what it does?”

I’ve heard this phrased in many ways through the years: “Can’t Feral! be $100?” “Why is AC $35 and Feral! $325?” “Feral! is SOOO expensive!”

I’ll start by saying that…yes…I believe we are officially the most expensive furry registration fee in the world.  Well…sort of

Unless you are the kind of fur who has GREAT friends and secure a free ride to a con, sleeps on someone’s floor without paying for the room, and live off the con suite…conventions cost money!  The registration fee you pay at a convention helps pay for the convention rooms, the conbadges, the conbook, flying in a guest of honour, etc. etc.  It’s low because those costs are low when broken down among 500…1000…3500 furs!

Feral! does things differently, as all campers know: we have an all-inclusive fee so that your lodging, your food, and your activities are covered with that one fee.  There are some exceptions – the bus, some workshops – but overall once you’ve paid your Feral! registration and gotten yourself to Feral! you don’t need another penny.

All those costs adds up.  Arowhon obviously has a fee, which we pay so we can use all the facilities. Feral! has operations costs…the website, workshop materials and supplies, conbadges, conbooks, and the overall cost of running the camp!

I’m pretty certain that if you took all the costs of going to a convention and added them up, the cost wouldn’t be much different than Feral!  What you can’t get elsewhere is the unique experience, three square meals a day served communally, the intimate culture of having a small group of people to share the event with…and if you’re bored at a hotel you most certainly don’t have a waterslide, archery range, or Predator vs Prey game to join (…you might…tell me about this con, it sounds cool!)

One last point about cost…I was going through old papers recently from before I took on the role as chairman in 2004ish.  I pulled out documents from 2002 and…well…was kinda shocked.  Do you know what the registration fee was in 2002??

$325…the same as in 2010!!!

According to StatsCan, the rate of inflation since 2002 means that by 2009 our registration fee should have been $372!  In 2004 we dropped the fee to $295 to make it easier for furs to attend.  In 2008, to help combat costs, we begrudgingly became a 19+ event to save on insurance fees.  And as always (although generally unknown to most campers)…ALL Feral! staff pay a full registration fee, some even pay Sponsor or Patron to help out that little bit more.

Due to heavy increases in the last four years we will have to increase our rate for the first time since 2002, but I hope this explanation helps you understand why.  And I PROMISE…we won’t go as high as the government tells us we should 😉

Now…onto less boring administrative logisticky stuff!


“Can the trading post run longer, or have a second day?”

We can certainly try that again.  As backstory, we ‘have’ tried that once before, and I think it frustrated the artists more than anything.  Feral! isn’t really a dealer’s room kind of event.  There are no ATM’s, many people come with minimal cash, and our schedule is pretty tight.  In 2006, we ran a second Trading Post on the third day.  Artists sat in the Main Lodge…chatting with people…but not really selling anything.  Most campers seem to blast their money in the mad ‘Trading Post’ rush, and then move on from buying into enjoying the rest of camp.

As I said…if there is enough interest, we can run a second Trading Post, and maybe this time it’ll be more successful!  I would propose, as an additional help, that all artists wanting a Trading Post table make sure they get ads into us for the conbook, AND we could incorporate a ‘Trading Post’ section on our new site showcasing who will be at Feral!, linking to artist and artisan websites, to give campers more of an idea of who will be there and what they may want to buy or commission.  Sound good?

“Something for fursuiters would be nice.”

There must’ve been a cosmic shift this year. Due to our very nature, Feral! has always been a con with very few fursuiters.  I recall one year when ONE fursuiter attended, or at least one fursuit was brought!  It’s dusty, it’s sometimes muddy, it can be muggy and fursuits are often left in cabin even if they’re brought to camp.

This year, however, it seems all the fursuiters came out of the woods…heh heh.  Hell yeah, we’ll run more fursuiting events next year!  I’m even thinking of putting a checkbox on the registration form to see just how many people are bringing suits in 2011 so we can make better plans! 🙂

“Musicians need more attention!”

I was surprised to find that the Musicians Circle, Drum Circle, Sing A Long, and just general statements about Music were regularly brought up in the surveys!  We have some big announcements re: the Musicians Circle in 2011.  Let’s just say that we can see there is an interest in change at Feral, and in a different approach to music, and we’re going to do that for you!

“We need an archery competition!”

Done…already scheduled on the last day in 2011! Awesome suggestion! That way all you archers can get in some practise!

“My favourite part…the Friday! the 13th screening.”

…I think I have a tear in my eye.  My baby…it’s all growed up!  I was so excited to have a Friday the 13th theme, let alone screen one of the movies.  The Grindhouse trailers seemed to be appreciated, folks seemed to love watching the movie in a cabin by the lake, and POPCORN MADE IT’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN AFTER A FIVE YEAR BAN!

…yes…we will be showing spooky movies in the Rec Hall in 2011…maybe even a couple!

“Favourite Part: Cabin Skits”

Yo…yo yo…Cabin Skits was the THIRD MOST POPULAR thing at Feral.  I’m not talking events…when we asked what your Favourite Part about Feral was in the survey, Cabin Skits placed third under Socializing and the DJ Dance.  It grows on you, doesn’t it!

It’s nice to see Cabin Skits finally come into their own after over a decade of trying.  Three years ago we had people saying it was their least favourite part, AND actually had a group of furs ask us to cancel them outright cause they didn’t like them.  HAH!

“Favourite Part: Frisbee Disc Golf Course.”

…what now?  There was a frisbee disc golf course?!?  I’m always the last to know!  Did you know there’s coin laundry on site too?!?  You know when you’re so close to someone, such a good friend, you kinda forget to say things cause you think they already know.  Our friends on site are getting that way with us…worse, the coin laundry has been there since we came back in 2004!

“An annual ‘Campwide’ game, like the Jason Furhees game!”

Also in the works!  We have learned from the Jason Game, and will try to make a new game for 2011 that suits the theme! 🙂

“Can there be a campwide Icebreaker on the first night?!”

The question should be “Why hasn’t there been a campwide Icebreaker on the first night!”  I think we always assumed the Drum Circle was kind of an icebreaker, but then again not everyone is interested in that single event.  With cabins hopefully sorted out well before camp, I really like the idea of having a post-announcement quick icebreaker before moving on to the evenings events…and I think I have just the game…*evillaugh*

CLOSING REMARKS

From the survey results it seems we did a good job this year. I’d be pretty lame if I left it at that.  Next year, I want Feral! to be even better than this year.  That means changing things that don’t work, improving things that do, trying out some fresh ideas, and of course, listening to the campers who make it all happen in the first place!

Just because the survey is closed doesn’t mean you can’t still offer suggestions!  We’ll try to do what we can, where we can, and are always happy to hear what you have to say!

As always, keep an eye on Feral! in all the places we exist on the web:

Our Website: www.campferal.org

YouTube: Camp Feral’s Channel!

Twitter: @CampFeral

Facebook: Camp Feral’s Official Page

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3 responses to this post.

  1. AHHH! A TALKING CHAIR!….Your image at the top is equally funny

    Congrats on what looks to have been another awesome year for Feral! Planning on getting more of the staff to attend the 14th(!) year in 2011.

    As a suiter, I took mine to Feral and wore it for all of 10 minutes. There is too much awesome stuff going on too want to stay in suit. As much fun as it would have been to see me try and play watermelon football in it…

    Keep up the great work and an eye on the horizon for russian tanks.

    Reply

  2. Posted by mimiBadger on September 23, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    …what about the bacon? 😀

    The bacon was awesome 😀

    Reply

  3. There was a frisbee golf course? I want in! =O
    Thanks for sharing Roo~ :3

    Reply

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