Every year in June, the North Suburban YMCA in Northbrook, Illinois undergoes a radical transformation. In addition to the usual schedule of fitness, swimming, dance, and art programs that fill the community center all year, summer brings an additional 300-400 children to the Y campus each week for 10 weeks of day camp. The Y welcomes campers ages three to 14, many of whom are at the building for extended hours from 7:00am to 6:00pm.
The enormous popularity of the Y’s camp program creates logistical challenges for staff members throughout the 80,000 square foot center. From the parking lot drop off to the indoor pool to the playgrounds and athletic fields, groups of children are constantly in motion between different areas. In addition, frequent field trips take campers off-campus to waterparks, zoos, and other locations in the greater Chicago area. Clear communication between management, counselors, campers and parents is essential to maintaining a safe, organized environment at the Y and offsite.
The Y uses a variety of portable sound systems from AmpliVox to meet its specialized needs. Based in Northbrook, AmpliVox has a long history of supporting the Y and providing equipment for programs and events. Working closely with Y leadership, AmpliVox identified areas in the camp program where communication was especially important to safety and then matched the most effective sound system product to address each scenario. These versatile applications make the programs more efficient on a daily basis, and also stand ready for use in case of emergencies.
Key areas of need included:
Drop-off/Pick-up Zones: Each morning, hundreds of parents line up through the Y’s parking lot to drop off their children. Since the Y allows registration by the week, each Monday brings new families who have to learn the procedures and get oriented to the hectic process of connecting children with their counselors. To help direct parents with both verbal and visual cues, camp staff use the AmpliVox Safety Wand Megaphone, a unique communication tool that combines an LED illuminated wand with a corded microphone and loudspeaker. This is especially useful on rainy days, since the lighted wand makes staff members more visible and improves their safety as they work with traffic.
Gymnasiums: The Y’s double-court gym is in constant use throughout the day for games, sports, performances and group activities. The massive space, especially when filled with noisy kids, can be chaotic. Camp counselors rely on AmpliVox’s powerful SW925 Digital Travel Audio Partner to overcome the background noise and give children clear directions on where they need to be. The SW925 Digital Audio Travel Partner Plus can support multiple wireless microphones, stream music from Bluetooth®-equipped devices and pair with supplementary speakers to provide customized sound coverage for audiences up to 7500 people or areas up to 15,000 square feet. Staff members can also move it easily from room to room thanks to its durable all-in-one design with luggage-style handle and wheels.
Outdoor Spaces: With multiple athletic fields, playgrounds, and tented picnic areas, the Y’s camp needs outdoor sound equipment capable of covering large spaces and withstanding variable weather conditions. AmpliVox’s SW800 Titan Portable PA provides the power to deliver clear announcements to reach all campers. Designed for durability and versatility, the battery-powered Titan PA includes a 100-watt amp that broadcasts highly intelligible speech over wide distances. The system also supports Bluetooth® streaming of music from external devices, amplified with crystal clear audio quality. Integrated storage for wireless microphones and remote controls keep accessories organized and ready to go, and the entire compact unit moves easily with a luggage-style handle and wheels.
Swimming Pool: The Y’s indoor pool is one of the busiest areas of the building, and also one of the hardest to supply with clear communication due to the intense levels of noise reverberation. AmpliVox developed its ProMarine Waterproof Megaphone for exactly this type of situation. This unique megaphone, the only product of its kind made in America, is constructed of high-impact polycarbonate, engineered to meet IP67 (Ingress Protection Standard) for dust and water submersion. The unit is so watertight that it will float if dropped in the water, but can still operate perfectly even when submerged for up to 30 minutes. The Y’s lifeguards have access to this extraordinary tool to enforce safety rules, give directions to campers, and communicate swiftly in case of emergencies.
Field Trips: Security is of paramount importance when transporting children on field trips. Highly portable sound systems, like AmpliVox’s rechargeable megaphones, deliver important directions to campers and staff whenever needed. Megaphones are lightweight, weatherproof, and ready to go at a moment’s notice with fully charged batteries that last for hours. To get full attention from large groups, AmpliVox’s megaphones come with siren and whistle functions as well.
Emergency Applications: While all these portable sound systems improve safety on an everyday basis, they also can be utilized to respond to emergency situations. Battery-powered megaphones and PAs are essential communication tools when electricity is knocked out, and portable systems can easily be taken to any location necessary. Camp leaders are trained to operate the user-friendly equipment so that they can give clear instructions during lockdowns, evacuations, or other response actions. Simplicity and versatility make these sound systems an essential part of any disaster plan.
With a variety of portable sound systems in place throughout its facility, the North Suburban YMCA can use clear communication to maintain a safe and efficient camp program. These examples demonstrate the versatility and effectiveness that portable sound systems offer for camp management in both day-to-day and emergency situations. By identifying areas of need and matching the appropriate sound equipment to specific settings, the Y can focus on keeping their campers secure, busy and happy for many summers to come.
AmpliVox’s Titan SW800 Portable PA amplifies the Pledge of Allegiance and daily announcements for campers at the North Suburban YMCA.