We will be working diligently to keep you updated on the latest details of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that the Coronavirus will have on our community. By the time this print publication reaches you, please keep in mind that many details will have likely changed. All of our Coronavirus updates will be posted online at sandypines.com/COVID19 and will be sent via Rave Text, email, social media, and published on Sandy Pines Channel 27.1.
A Word On Communication
As we return to our Happy Place for the season, we’d like to offer some suggestions on how we can all work together to keep our community drama free in 2020, especially as we work together to get through the Coronavirus pandemic. After all, isn’t this where we all come to disconnect and get away from the stress of the daily grind?
Social media has recently been buzzing with misinformation, rumors, and confusion regarding the budget for our North Shore Center FEMA Storm Shelter, Membership wills and trusts, and a few other random topics stemmed mostly by members who are dissatisfied with on ongoing implementation of standard business practices, procedures, rules, and policies.
I’d like to start with a couple of definitions.
Merriam Webster defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” Communication consists of a sender, a channel, and a receiver. There are many factors that can impact, impede, or enhance communication but in its simplest form it takes two individuals to complete the communication loop.
Merriam Webster defines transparency as “the quality or state of being transparent.” Transparent is defined as “having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that bodies lying beyond are seen clearly.” In our case we’ll be referring to “characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.”
The word transparency has been discussed a lot in the last few years at Sandy Pines. While the definition and concept are not difficult to understand, being transparent is limited by our ability to communicate effectively, remembering that communication is a two-way street. When I started at Sandy Pines four years ago in March, I was hired as the Member Service Manager with the plan to evolve into the Director of Communications which is the position I now hold. In 2016 we had two main ways to communicate with our members, the Monthly Footprints and the Weekend Flyer. While we technically had a website, social media, four Sandy Pines cable channels, posters, handouts, phones, email and other ways to communicate, we didn’t have the dedicated resources to effectively manage content through all channels. It was not due to negligence; it was that everyone wore numerous hats and did their best to keep up.
Our new website was launched in 2016, and we focused our efforts on making the website the backbone of our communication. We’ve taken major steps forward in the last four years to automate how information funnels down from the website to our Footprints, Weekly Flyer, Sandy Pines Cable Channels, Facebook & social channels, posters & handouts. We also have our new Rave Text Alert System which helps us get urgent and emergency alerts out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
We’re now offering more ways than ever to communicate effectively. Even with this infrastructure in place, it takes significant time and resources to keep this information flowing efficiently between our staff, volunteer Board of Directors, and a community which can reach up to 40,000 people. This is made even more challenging in the social media age where gossip and misinformation can spread much more rapidly on Facebook than truth and transparency can through our proper communication channels.
We have made great strides and will continue improving our communication but please remember that communication requires a sender and receiver. As a Sandy Pines Member, it is your responsibility to know our communication channels and receive the information we are sending. We encourage your feedback so that we can continue improving this process.
The following Communication Funnel is the process for how we publish and share all communications with our community.
Each month, all Department Managers compose an update for our Footprints Magazine. Each department highlights their hours, contact information, services, important news, and information on a monthly basis. You can contact Member Service to have the Footprints mailed to you for free or you can pick up a paper copy at Member Service and at the Main Gate. The electronic version of the Footprints is posted online and sent out with our Member E-News. Our Footprints Archive going back to 1972 is online at sandypines.com/footprints.
All monthly Footprints department updates are also posted as individual articles on the Members Page under the Park News Section at sandypines.com/members. They are also categorized and populate under their associated department’s website page. These articles all have comment sections that allow you to comment or ask questions. Please note that these comments are public once approved, so do not send direct communication requests in this manner. Please contact the appropriate department directly via email, phone, or in person. Also note that since all comments must be approved, you won’t see your comment immediately upon submitting. Comments must be approved to prevent spam from being populated on our website. There is a lot of information on our website so if you’re not sure where to start, use the Search function to find what you seek.
All events are scheduled on our Event Calendar at sandypines.com/calendar. You can view events in the month, list, week, and day formats. You can also browse events by category. You can subscribe to our calendar which will link and synchronize our events with your Google, Apple, Outlook or other calendar provider.
Once on our website, we send a summary of these updates and events weekly through our Member E-News with links to the original articles and events. We also break this information out on our Weekly Flyers between Memorial and Labor Day Weekends. The Weekly Flyers are also posted online and sent out with our weekly Member E-News.
Once sent out in the weekly Member E-News, highlights of our monthly Footprints updates are published on Sandy Pines Channel 27.1 and run in a loop along with upcoming events, alerts, and cancellations, local weather, traffic, and entertainment news. Board, Face to Phase, and informational meetings rotate on channel 27.2. Sales listings rotate on channel 27.3. Our cable channel lineup airs on channel 27.4
Alerts & Cancellations sent through our Rave Alert System can be sent via text and email and are posted online at sandypines.com/alerts, and on our Facebook Page. Once online, these alerts show up on Sandy Pines Channel 27.1.
Board Meetings are typically held on the third Friday of each month at 7:00 pm during the Summer season at the Phase 1 Pavilion. They are also held every couple months in the off season at the Admin Office Conference Room. Members are always welcome and encouraged to attend BOD Meetings. In addition to learning the ins and outs of the internal operations of our park, members have opportunity to ask questions. Board Meetings are scheduled on our Event Calendar. All meetings are videotaped, posted on our YouTube Channel and air on Sandy Pines Channel 27.2.
Face to Phase Meetings are held on the third Saturday of each month at 9:00 am during the summer following the Friday night Board of Directors Meetings. These are also held at the Phase 1 Pavilion. This is a more informal setting with a Q & A format which allows members to interact directly with the Park President, Administration and Board Members. This is the best opportunity to have open conversations with our staff and Board Members. Board Meetings are scheduled on our Event Calendar. All meetings are videotaped, posted on our YouTube Channel and air on Sandy Pines Channel 27.2.
For more information about our communication channels, visit sandypines.com/keepintouch.
We understand that Facebook Groups are a quick, easy, and fun way to converse and gather information, but please be cautious of the information provided on social groups. If you do rely on Facebook Groups and other Members for information, please verify that information with our official communications or staff. When it comes to numbers, budgets, rumors, conflicting or confusing information, please call, email, or contact our staff directly. Budgets and numbers are often a hot topic which sparks questions and controversy. Our ongoing park budgets & financials are posted on the Finance Page at sandypines.com/finance. Contrary to minority belief, there are no conspiracies, we’re not trying to hide information, or run our community with ill willed agendas. We encourage questions. We’ll give you answers. All you have to do is know who to ask and where to look for the answers. You may have noticed in the last few years when important topics and questions come up, they’re typically addressed in many of our ongoing communications.
Please keep in mind, when some don’t get answers they like from our staff, they take to social media to create controversy. Most of these controversies take significant time and resources from our staff. Please keep in mind, this impacts budgets and resources we use to keep prices down for our members. We have many policies and procedures in place for the fairness, safety, and well-being of our community. We will not compromise these policies and procedures for a few at the sacrifice of the whole.
One last note on standard business practices, policies, procedures, and rules. Another popular phrase that gets thrown around a lot is “we’re just a campground.” This is used by some to imply that we need to be less strict on our policies, procedures, rules, staffing, etc., that everything should be fun, laid back, and relaxing at Sandy Pines. Please understand that the camping experience we work very hard to provide, is not the same as the infrastructure it takes to support a community of up to 40,000 people. In numerous ways, Sandy Pines is like a fully functioning municipality with all the infrastructure of a city roughly the size of Lowell. It is our policies, procedures, rules, staff and security which allow us to maintain the relaxed campground experience which makes Sandy Pines unique.
Our mission is providing a fun and safe environment where families and friends create a lifetime of memories. We are all passionate about our community. We may have differing opinions on what we personally think is in the best interest of ourselves and other Members in this community. Having differing opinions or disagreements, no matter what the reason, does not give us the right to attack the character of those we disagree with. Let’s communicate with each other, stay informed, and work together to make Sandy Pines the best Recreational Community it can be. With the recent Coronavirus outbreak, we all need to work together to be safe and look out for one another. Let’s remember even if we don’t think we’re at a high risk from the virus, we could easily spread it to some who is. Lets make an extra effort this year to be understanding, kind, and generous to others, particularly those who may be different or believe in different things than us.
There is a lot to know and learn about being a Member at Sandy Pines. If you can’t find information you seek, find inaccurate or confusing information, or just have a suggestion please let us know! Contact Josh in our Communications Department anytime at 616.896.8316 x107.
Additional Communications information is available at sandypines.com/keepintouch