A 'HINT' To Encourage Your Camp's Unique Identity - Joanna Warren Smith

"Summer Camps All Look the Same!"

That's what parents tell me in focus groups.  They reflect back on their process of investigating possible camp options and lament that the websites generally look the same and the visuals show the same smiling faces.  They agree that copy seems to say the same thing in too many words, the camp reps all use the same language (some more engaging than others) and that generally, there are no distinguishing factors.

Moms and dads say they would like to find a ‘partner in parenting’ and they want to know that their child will benefit from the experience.  One dad emphatically stated, “When I pay the tuition, I want a real return on my investment!”

All that being said, wouldn’t it be to your advantage to feature your distinguishing characteristics or at least the philosophical elements that guide you?  If your identity is featured appropriately, it may well grab a parent’s attention and give you the first opportunity to connect.

Take Action Now!

Test your messaging.

Test your messaging.

  • Confirm Authentic Outcomes.  What do you intend for your campers to metaphorically ‘take home in their back packs’?  What positive changes in kids do parents notice and write to you about?  Work with your leadership team to come up with a list of benefits that your experience actually delivers consistently to the majority of your campers.  Be certain that these outcomes align with your mission, reflect your philosophy and apply to all age groups.
  • Translate Your Outcomes to Resonate with Parents.  If you can get kids to ‘unplug’ and parents have trouble making that happen, they will likely respond.  If you’re building skills, increasing confidence or teaching social skills, parents might want to know more.  If your camp gets kids started on 21st Century Skills, there may be a connection.
  • Refine Your Key Message & Use It Consistently. Present your camp’s name, logo and key message, but please don’t use the attached examples because they are not likely to accurately portray your actual product.  Avoid using FUN & FRIENDS as parents indicate that these should be elements of every camp experience which should be conveyed through great visuals. 
  • Test Your Messaging.  Even if your team unanimously agrees on your ‘positioning statement’ or ‘tag line’, run it by your parents who are zealots and those who are more neutral about your experience.

For some camps, this process is easy; for others, it takes months to figure out the right words to capture the essence of their programs, but, trust me, it is definitely worth the effort.


Send me your statement finalists and I’ll give you my honest reactions.  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already, you should sign up to receive these HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)