Since 1941, the Young Life Christian ministry has walked with kids and earned the right to be heard in an exhausting and exciting world. In over 100 countries, the organization knows more than two million kids by name. Since its first camp opened in 1950, Young Life has strengthened its commitment to reach kids through its world-class camping ministry. Young Life camping involves high adventure, lots of fun, great food and excellent speakers who understand and respect high school and middle school kids.
As Young Life's worldwide outreach continues to grow, its camping program is expanding as well, with Young Life-owned or leased camps in a number of international locations. Regardless of the facility, the experience is the same — kids getting away from the pressures of everyday life, having fun with friends and their Young Life leaders, and hearing the message of God's love in terms they can understand.
Each year, more than 180,000 kids around the world spend a week or a weekend at Young Life camp, having an experience that many describe as the best of their lives.
As with most non-profit organizations, one of the main challenges that Young Life faces is to become more efficient with limited resources. Laura Boullain is part of a small I.T. department that serves the Young Life Camping division. When Laura became a programmer analyst for this group, the organization was dealing with a whole lot of paper contracts — thousands per year for both camping reservations and volunteer sign-ups. Each reservation contract represents a local outreach group and its best estimate of the number of campers attending along with associated camping fees. The volunteer contract serves as a commitment and represents the number of volunteer estimates from each local group.
The contracts used to be created as a Word document and sent out by email. The recipient would then print it out, sign it and return it either by mail, fax, in person or email with a photo or scan of the contract. This process was inconsistent, inefficient and lent itself to inaccuracies. As a data-driven organization, Young Life’s national headquarters was hindered by its inability to look into its CRM system to track and manage contract reservations and run reports. It was very difficult to forecast accurately the number of committed groups and volunteers without a standardized, digital process in place. Not to mention, Young Life had no quick and easy ability to search the thousands of agreements they collected each year.