An OMG 'HINT' from Joanna Warren Smith

Now is the Perfect Time To Connect With Parents and Make Sales

Campers learning to play guitar

Campers learning to play guitar

How can it possibly be?

Just last week, two well-known camps told me that they do not collect information regarding inquiries while another established operation indicated that they do no ‘real’ promotion from the end of March on.  Needless to say, the first programs are now actively collecting inquiries and the third camp is about to commence a series of intentional outreaches to increase enrolments and retention.

I know that this is an extraordinarily busy time of the year, with staff hiring, program refinements and orientation planning, but you can’t ASSUME that enrolments will take care of themselves.

For parents who have not yet made decisions about camp, school vacation looms and the prospect of their child doing ‘nothing’ is frightening.  It’s the perfect time for you to connect with parents and increase sales.

Take Action Now

  • Outreach To ALL 2015 Inquiries Not Yet Enrolled.  Using a ‘Provocative Message and Resonating Visuals’, invite parents to connect with you to find out how your camp experience can benefit their children.
  • Partner with Parents.  Using an article like Dr. Tina’s Bryson’s ‘Bunks Build Brains’, connect with 2014 (and perhaps 2013-2012) parents not yet re-enrolled to give added value to what the camp experience can do for their kids.  If you are a day camp, you may have to establish a slightly different context.  You can also use this type of outreach to affirm for 2015 families that they are making a good investment in their child.
  • Rekindle Memories for Campers.  Send a postcard (preferred) or a link through a parent email that references a camp memory that will encourage campers to ‘whine’ to get their parents to send them back to camp.  You can also send them to a link on your website to see a video of some special moments at camp.
  • Focus on the OMG Kids.  Run your bunk lists from last year, highlight those returning and identify those who really surprise you that they are not coming back.  Commence a phone campaign followed by personal emails to connect with those families to register the child or determine why they are not returning.
  • Continue Building Relationships.  Assign each member of the calling team 6-10 calls/day during April and May to connect with all of last year’s campers not yet enrolled and new acquisition potential (inquiries, camp fair/open house participants).  If personal emails are not manageable, send a ‘provocative and resonating’ follow up email at the end of each week to the families who received calls that week.
  • Launch a Proactive 'Stay On' or 'Come Back' Effort.  Many parents will jump at the chance for their child to increase their time at camp this summer.  Keep them informed of their child's progress, suggest the possibility (if the camper is eager to do so) and then make the extension process easy.

I could go on, but it’s already a tall order.  If you can’t do everything that’s been suggested here, select one item and do it really, really well.  Enrolment is too critical for you to ASSUME that it will take care of itself.

Want help determining a ‘provocative message’ and identifying ‘resonating visuals’, give me a call.


Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email

(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 theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: