Do you fill your camp beds every year?

Some camps fill every year. canstockphoto16862584

This is a particularly important question to many of us at this time of year.

We are checking the numbers.

We are looking at retention compared to first-timers.

We are sending out our last-minute pushes and promotions.

We are, in fact, asking the question, “Will our camp fill”?

If your answer is yes, then “good-on-ya” as my friends from Australia say. Keep up the good work. Filling camp is just the start. Keeping people safe, connected, and coming back is the key.

If your answer is no, then you are probably asking or being asked that one two-word question, “Why not?”  One of the most common answers I hear from camps (and startups, businesses, or non-profits for that matter) is “we have an awareness problem.”

When we think awareness is the problem, we try to figure out more ways that we can hype up camp promotions try to draw more people in with our discounts or spend crazy amounts of money on advertising.

Author Seth Godin, in a recent blog post,  challenges us that when we do this, we will often have no luck at all getting more attention, even with more stunts or funding. He says, “The solution lies in re-organizing your systems, in re-creating your product or service so that it becomes worth talking about. When you do that, your customers do the work of getting you more noticed.  When you produce something remarkable, more use leads to more conversation which leads to more use.”

The final push to summer is coming. If you are not where you want to be, please let me encourage you to examine your product. Are the summer camp experience, the customer service during registering, and the website/videos /marketing, worth talking about? If they are, you will have all the moms in the camp talking about it and you will no longer have an awareness problem.

Cory Harrison has directed resident camp programs for more than 10 years with The Salvation Army and the YMCA. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the YMCA Camp Benson in Northwest, IL. He is a life-long camper, an avid reader, and daily cereal eater. Reach him via Facebook: