Stop Marketing To Yourself

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 Campers are Coming!

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Are your summer campers already here?

We've decided to share with you a few activity ideas to make everyone feel welcome and a part of something bigger. These can be done in cabin groups, with Leaders in Trainings, with your staff, or your whole camp.  Enjoy building community!

A Bridge of Hands: create a large 2-dimensional bridge out of cardboard or newsprint and put it up in a prominent place at camp.  Have each person put their hand in paint and leave their handprint in some place on the bridge.  The size of the bridge will depend on the number of people.  You will want to have most of the bridge filled in with handprints.  Once it is completed, this leads well into a discussion on breaking down barriers and building bridges in your community.

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.  Throughout the summer, have them add the new skills they have learned to their footprints.  You may also wish to create a road of paper onto which the footprints can be placed.  You may even want to move the footprints along the road throughout the summer to signify your journey together.

Using the Parking Lot for Staff Training

We spotted this great CampHack this week when we were leading some camp staff training at Cairn: the Parking Lot.

Create a white board or flip chart space where staff can park their questions and ideas until a later time.  That way interruptions to the session are minimal and staff can be confident that you will come back around to them when the time is appropriate.

Make sure you schedule the time (at least an hour) to go over or "take up" the questions on your Parking Lot.

We hope it was a great training week for you and that every camp has a safe and happy summer!

Create Your Own Community

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A Great Activity to Open Camp Staff Training

Koinonia (it means fellowship in Greek) - Put your staff members into small groups of 4-8 and explain that they are going to create a town.  Ahead of time, gather together whatever materials you wish (ex. cardboard boxes, construction paper, glue, paint, recyclables, stickers, paint, toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, scissors, markers, masking tape, duct tape, etc.).  You will want to allow at least 30 minutes for them to create their buildings.  Encourage

Give each group the responsibility to create one of the town buildings or outdoor spaces.  Explain that they will making their creations 3D and give them an approximate size.  Buildings of 1' to 2' seem to work well and still allow space for people in the room!

Frontload with them that, as they create the structure, they must also discuss how it will be used metaphorically in their community.  The following are some examples you may want to use:

LIBRARY – the place to get resources, exchange ideas

SCHOOL - the place to learn new things, (what and how, why would they learn?)

PARK - a place to get away from it all a serene place to take care of one's self)

REC CENTRE - a place of fun and play and stress relief

CHURCH - a place for spiritual development, a healing place

CEMETERY - a place to put issues to rest (what should 'die' at your camp - ex. gossip)

HOMES - places of their own privacy, property - places where they feel safe

STORES - when they run out of steam, these are places where they replenish energy, inspiration, creativity

HOSPITAL - for healthy, safety - a healing place

OFFICE BUILDINGS - for the camp's administration, archives

CITY HALL - the place for settling disputes (dealing with conflict/mediation room)

These are some of the questions each staf group should ask itself:

1)  how does this area of camp facilitate growth/willingness to risk?

2)  how does it make you feel welcomed or loved?

3)  how does it make you better able to look after children?

4)  how does it develop our community?

5)  what are the risk management tools (emotional risk, mental risk, risk to community)?

6)  how does this keep our focus on our job this summer?

After each group is finished, put the town together on the floor.  Give each group an opportunity to show off its work and to explain how they would like to see these issues dealt with in your community.  Next, place a road of paper through the town.  On the road, have staff members write words that complete the following sentence:  “we believe in……..”(these possibilities are endless - ex. treating each other with respect, not participating in gossip). These are the statements (or guiding principles) that connect all of the structures in the community.

It is helpful to keep as many of the buildings as possible and bring one or two out each week to discuss how you as a community are doing.

Another summer, we did this same type of exercise by making a huge 3D map of camp on the floor of the dining hall instead of a Town.  It also served as a tour of the site for new people.