Go after the ones the other camps leave behind
Summer camps have a tendency to aim their marketing material at people like themselves - those who already love summer camp. With some planning on our part we can better reach out to families who don't know the value of what we do.
In this presentation, Travis Allison, talked about a couple of super-easy marketing concepts and offered 10 Tips to market your summer camp to families who are new to the idea of summer camp.
The Gifts of Our Camp Staff
One of the best things we do at summer camp is to help young people slow down and take stock of the gifts and talents they possess. Here is an activity that can be done during pre-camp or early in the group's time together. It encourages staff or leaders in training to share what they do well and to recognize the abilities of others. It can also incorporate the concept of growth throughout the summer.
Footprints Journey Mural
Have everyone trace one of their feet onto construction paper and cut it out. Then have them decorate it with words or symbols telling about several of the things they do well. Have participants sit in a circle with their footprints and ask them to talk to the person next to them and tell that person about the 3 things they have written on their footprint.
Talk with your group about their gifts and talents. Ask if any of them found it hard to talk about a something they do well. While this exercise may not have been hard for some, it will have been difficult for others. We often find it uncomfortable to talk about things we do well. This is a great jumping off point to discuss how campers in their care may also find it hard to recognize their own gifts and talents and what the role of the staff will be this coming summer in building self-esteem.
Throughout the summer, you can have them add to their footprints new skills they have learned. During this initial activity, create a road of paper onto which the footprints can be placed. Throughout the week of pre-camp or during your summer, move the footprints along the road to signify your journey together. As the summer progresses, have the staff place markers along the road to signify special events in your months together.
It's All About Building Camp Community
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we're going to take some time this Fall to share activities which help to build small, medium or large sized groups. They are terrific for teen campers for Leaders in Training (or C.I.T.s), and staff. Here are a few more for you to compile for next summer:
Great for the first time folks gather at camp and not everyone is arriving at the same time
Before anyone arrives, put up poster-sized sheets around your meeting space with ‘get to know you’ questions. Use large newsprint sheets or large whiteboards. Be sure to have plenty of writing utensils for everyone to have at least one. As your people are arriving, explain that they can go around and write down their answers. They can either write their names beside the answers or not. These are great conversation starters and everyone can participate, even those who are shy and afraid to share their opinions out loud in front of a group. You can have fun with the questions or write down serious ones (ex. of all the famous people, who would you like to have dinner with? What is your favourite cereal? What is the best book you’ve ever read? If you could have one super power what would it be? I believe God is…..) You may choose to take up some of the answers when everyone arrives or simply leave them up for awhile so folks can have a chance to read them.
Another one for differing arrival times
Leave this note on a table near your poster area. “Pretend that we know nothing about you. Using only this card and writing utensils, teach us all about yourself. This is to be done as an individual exercise.” If your teens/staff members do not spot it, point it out to ones who appear to have finished answering poster questions. Have index cards ready to be used and paper clips to attach the card to the collar of the writer's shirt for the remainder of the evening. These spark great conversations!
Divide the group into pairs (play or do not play so that the numbers come out evenly - try to mix the group into pairs of folks who don't know each other well. Ask your participants to introduce themselves to their partners. Instruct the group that from this point forward, speaking is not allowed. This includes whispering, mouthing words, and making sounds!
Inform the group that they must tell their partner 3 things about themselves without speaking (similar to a charades game). These things cannot be physical characteristics.
Once all the partners have finished miming to each other, call everyone back into a circle. Tell them not to share their answers with their partners just yet. Ask for each pair to orally introduce their partner to the group, as well as the three things that they learned (or think they learned). This activity is great as a mixer but also provides a few giggles along they way.
For more articles about building staff community please check out this link.
You can get more summer camp campers in your bunks this summer at the cost of… an email and some time.
In Ontario the first week of the camp season has passed and I think there is a great opportunity for you to fill up some more beds this summer. Assuming that you have 1 week sessions (more likely most of you have 2 week sessions - send this email next week) I think you could tap into the excitement that the first session generated to get you more campers. What I propose is this…
Send all campers that have just returned home this email (using Mail Merge so it says “Hi Clarisse, ….” or whatever his/her name is):
We hope you had a great week at camp last week (if not please email or call me [give # and email])
To say thank you for a great week we would like to offer you 15% off another week at camp this summer. If you have any friends who heard all of your great stories and now want to come to Camp _________ they can have the 15% off as well.
Your coupon code is 2010-asdfasfw. Make sure your friends that sign up use the same code.
We hope to see you back at camp this summer!
What have you done at your camp to fill the extra spots left in the summer?