Consider “point of service” marketing. With what social services or educational agencies do these families come in contact during the school year?
Train the “salespeople.” If they have a better idea of what the camp is about, they will sell the idea more effectively. Consider a picnic or recreation day at camp for the contact people.
Consider creating specialized or focused camps , such as sports camp. This will allow you to create more focused marketing efforts. Have you made changes in site, facilities, and personnel to attract new populations?
Bulk mail a newsletter to campers of the previous two summers at least twice during the year. Just remaining visible will increase returns. Most camps will tell you that over 75% of their camper enrollment is from word-of-mouth advertising.
Invite day camp staffs to participate in some of your orientation training sessions. Offer your best in-house presenters to day camps as in-service trainers. This increases the status of your camp as an authority in the camp industry, and further increases awareness of your camp as an alternative or addition to the day camp market. Another advantage of offering this training is that many day camps do not run for the entire summer, and others will gladly refer their surplus campers.
Design fliers (in more than one language) which can be distributed through food pantries, food banks, thrift stores, and other local agency centers which serve target populations. These fliers should very clearly provide information which will allow interested families to take the next step.
Place ads and new releases in non-traditional, minority newspapers which serve the target population. These ads could also specify that staffing positions are available.
Sponsor service projects with local schools to increase community presence. These projects can raise resources, visibility, and enrollment numbers. Thank you letters can contain general information about the Army’s camping ministry, with contact information for those families that might be interested. Some examples: Book Buddies (students bring gently used books from their home libraries; these in turn are distributed to Salvation Army afterschool programs or day camps, or used to start a camp library as a resource for staff or as an elective program area) Be a Sport (students collect gently used athletic equipment; softball gloves, basketballs and other items which can be used at camp are sent there, while other items are given to thrift stores) Kids’ Kitchen (students collect canned goods and other foods for local food pantries)
Issue news releases of success stories. Decide what is newsworthy about your people, programs, and purpose. Enlist your division’s Development Department to assist with photographs and writing.
Camp Wonderland features camp success stories such as these prominently on their divisional website.
Begin a tradition of camper reunions. The easiest and moist cost effective way to do this would be through your corps. Former campers could attend and bring a friend. A simple agenda which involves some food, games, and prizes would be easy to replicate at one site after another. Teen groups within the division could assist in pulling off these occasional events. The added benefit, of course, is that it demonstrates to the corps officers that you are behind them in their camper recruitment efforts.
Build school partnerships. School-based grants can help increase your programming budget as well as your camper numbers. At the very least, a principal, nurse, guidance counselor or teacher may agree to be your advocate for camp at the local school level.
Simplify the application process. How easily can interested families learn more about the camp and enroll their children?
Camp Neosa allows parents to click on a link that supplies a contact list by zip code.
Zip codes are searchable; this list can also be easily printed for distribution.
Parents can type in their zip code to submit basic information to a local representative who can contact them at a later date.
Attract campers through electronic media. More and more families are relying upon the Internet as their sole source of reliable information.
Star Lake’s new ropes course fills several pages of their site. It serves as a draw for off-season camp use by schools, groups, and even families.
Neosa’s interactive (sort-of) map lets visitors check out the camp attraction by attraction.
Camp Tecumseh provides parents with a printable brochure, plus the actual state standards for camping. Very reassuring to the parent who is contemplating camp for the first time.
Camp Swoneky features large, clear photos and description of their facilities. This lets families picture their own children in that environment which appears to be extremely new, clean, and safe. Also a great tool for selling to outside groups.
Assist agencies in allocating funds for children to attend camp. Building corporate sponsorships of campers, implementing flexible assessments for corps, and providing grant and fundraising resources are just a few ways to get started.
Under its Leader Resources link, Neosa provides a Fundraising page. There leaders can find both general and very specific ideas for raising money.
Here, for example, is an easily carried out idea which resulted in a big windfall for the corps that tried it.
Promote the traditional experiences found in camping. Because of its location, its natural resources, and its programming, your camp is uniquely positioned to offer experiences to children which can be found nowhere else. Emphasize these in your promotional materials and your “sales pitch” to groups. Be sure your materials contain plenty of pictures of campers enjoying nature, hiking, camping out and athletics in natural environments.
Allegheny’s site features a page which vividly compares modern technology with the simpler pleasures of camp. This page could stand alone as a piece in a parenting newspaper.
Become an authority. Many local family-oriented publications which are distributed for free through libraries, child care centers, and grocery stores rely solely upon advertisers for profit. They do, however, need articles of substance to “flesh out” the publication and make it worth reading. Often these publications will offer a small section of ad space to writers and “experts” whose articles fit match the audience of the magazine. This is where you come in. As an expert on youth, you can easily create an article of interest which allows you to establish yourself as an expert, while at the same time getting out the news about your camp’s ministry. Some possible topics include Creating Family Traditions, Navigating the Social Services Maze, Summer Experiences for Urban Youth, Speaking With Your Child About…(Drugs, Sex, Peer Pressure, Etc.), Ten Ways to …(Deal with a Bully, Stop Sibling Rivalry, etc.), How to …(Choose a Day Care Center, Raise a Kind-Hearted Child, Help Your Child Deal with School Stresses, etc.).
What plans have you made for recruiting campers this summer?
Increasing Camper Enrollment
Consider Point of Service Marketing With what social service or educational agencies do your target families come in contact?
Sell Your Salespeople Have your face-to-face contact people ever seen your camp first hand?
Focus On Special Interests Do your camps address the special needs or interests of target campers? Have you made changes in site, facilities, and personnel to attract new populations?
Specialized Camps Teen Sports Academic Wilderness Performing Arts Physical Challenge
It’s In the Mail Do you reach out to your campers during the off-season? Most camps report that over 75% of their campers come through “word of mouth” advertising.
Broaden Your Camper Base What relationship have you developed with day camps in your division? Many do not run for the entire summer, and others will gladly refer their surplus campers.
Broaden Your Camper Base What relationship have you developed with families that speak English as a second language ? Fliers in two or three languages can be distributed through food pantries, thrift stores, and other local agencies.
In Print How else can we reach families that speak English as a second language ? Ads and news releases in nontraditional or minority newspapers will help to expand your audience.
Service Projects How can we get out the message of camping to our local schools? Service projects such as Book Buddies and Be a Good Sport can raise resources, visibility, and enrollment numbers.
Spread the Good News If your camp ministry is so full of success stories, then why haven’t your target families heard them? What is newsworthy about your people, your program, or your purpose?
It’s Easier to Keep a Customer You Have Than to Make a New One What relationship have you developed with your campers in the off-season? If you have staff reunions, why not camper reunions?
Back to School How can we establish camp-school partnerships to raise the number of youth we serve all year long?
No Problem What have we done to simplify the camper application process?
24/7 What have we done to attract campers through electronic media?
Lend a Hand Are we assisting agencies in allocating funds for kids to attend camp?
Lend a Hand Are we assisting agencies in allocating funds for kids to attend camp?
Traditions Do we do all we can to promote the wholesome traditions of Salvation Army camping?
Become an Authority How can we reach campers through family oriented publications? <ul><li>Article Topics: </li></ul><ul><li>Creating Family Traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Navigating the Social Services Maze </li></ul><ul><li>Summer Experiences for Urban Youth </li></ul><ul><li>Speaking With Your Child About… </li></ul><ul><li>Ten Ways to … </li></ul><ul><li>How to … </li></ul>
Your Turn Have you mapped out your strategy for recruiting campers this summer? More Ideas to add? [email_address]