By Emory McLeod
Swimming, sports, and games are staple activities at summer camp. While all of these can be a blast, you may find it difficult to compete with the hundreds of other camps that offer the same thing. It is important for your camp to stand out when trying to attract new campers, or you’ll end up catering only to the people within a 15-minute radius. It can be difficult to keep programs fresh, current, and interesting to kids. Here are four ways to do it:
1. Do your research. It’s important to stay up-to-date with what kids think is cool. Keeping up with new movies, games, and music through outlets like social media can prove to be extremely beneficial. Utilize every outlet possible. The Internet is a great place to keep track of what is popular among youth. Reading tabloid magazine websites also can keep you up to date.
Amanda Brown, director of Camp NAC in Newtown, Penn., named Buzzfeed, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook as some of the outlets her marketers use to track kids’ interests. It must be working, as the camp was named 2016’s Best Camp on the Bucks Happening List.
2. Stay flexible. Don’t get stuck in the past! It’s easy to recycle camp programs from year to year, and that’s not always bad if there are camper favorites you want to bring back. But don’t get so accustomed to the traditional camp games and activities that you aren’t willing to bring in fresh ideas, or apply new themes to old games. For example, a game of dodgeball can be reworked into a “Catch the Pokémon” game. “I think, a lot of times, camps keep activities the same year to year,” Brown says. “That’s what makes us so different. We are constantly learning and changing what we do, based on what is popular at the moment.”
3. Keep up year-round. Kids have interests around the calendar, not just during camp season. It’s important to track trends all year long to get ideas for camp the next year. For example, Camp NAC introduced Pokémon camp this year as a reaction to Pokémon Go, the gaming app that exploded last summer, and camp registration is filling fast! Additional themes like Harry Potter Camp and Star Wars Camp were both reactions to movies released in the past year.
4. Ask the kids. This seems fairly obvious, but you will be surprised how little people utilize this technique. It’s important to ask kids what they’re listening to, watching, playing, and talking about. Actually listening to what they have to say is the key! You will most definitely come across trends that you don’t understand, but make sure to ask questions and try to see the idea from the camper’s eyes. This will help design a camp program that will spark interest for kids and their parents.
“We update our camp activities and program based on feedback from kids and research on what is current and popular among kids, Brown explains. “Keeping our programs current has been one of our biggest selling points when it comes to bringing in new campers.”
For more information on Camp NAC, visit www.campnac.com.
Emory McLeod is the Youth Marketing Coordinator for the Newtown Athletic Club and Camp NAC day camp in Newtown, Penn. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.