A Guide To Effective and Efficient Summer Camp Management
Are you going to be managing a summer camp this year? Are you wondering which summer camp management solutions will make your life easier?
Anyone with camp experience knows that the business involves more than daisy chains and s’mores. You’ll need a well-organized campsite that protects campers, provides excellent recreation, and fosters deep friendships.
Here are some of our favorite tips for camp management.
1. Invest in Smart Camp Software
Today’s camp software is about more than just spreadsheets where you keep track of campers’ names and addresses. In fact, the best management tools allow you to keep in touch with parents all summer and manage your finances all in the same place.
You can allow folks to register for camp, manage your facilities, and allow prospective staff members to apply on a single mobile-friendly program. It will also allow you to streamline information like camper health stats and check-ins.
Today’s best-run summer camps make use of the latest technology to streamline their business operations. This will allow you more free time for the important business of connecting with campers and spreading camp joy.
2. Get to Know Your Campers
Today’s latest camp technology allows you to get to know more about your campers before you even meet them. What are their favorite activities, and what are they hoping to get out of their time during the summer?
This information can help you formulate ideas about running popular activities and programs throughout the season. For example, maybe a lot of kids are interested in social media, fashion, or soccer.
Talk to your staff about how you can design activities with kids’ interests in mind. Canoeing and campfires are great, but a savvy young staff can help you incorporate new technology tools into your program so kids are even more excited about participating.
3. Stay Within Your Budget
The right technology will have budgeting tools at your fingertips, so you won’t need to be making constant calculations. Yet a solid camp budget will weigh the money you’re getting in camp tuition and donations against what you’d like to spend on staff salary and improvements.
The best camp organizations motivate campers to register early so they know what they’ve got to spend. You can offer discounts for early registrants and even more money off if they recommend a friend.
Fundraising and subsidies may also be an important part of your budget. You’ll want to spend the year diligently raising money so you won’t be overwhelmed when it’s time to reopen the campsite.
Resist the temptation to overspend, especially if you’ve got a new camp. There are lots of fun activities you can offer kids on a budget. Once you’ve got some enthusiastic regulars and donors, you can begin to develop your campground.
4. Get Marketing
You’ll want to do some research before your camp gets off the ground. Check out what nearby camps are offering and decide how you can set your place apart.
Are you going to specialize in watersports, or offer fine arts opportunities? You’ll want to make sure you’re reaching out to kids and parents who may be interested. For example, you may want to reach out to a local music school if your camp is more arts-based.
If your camp is religiously affiliated, churches and synagogues are a great place to start. Offer to provide a “camp night” where you give a video presentation and give kids a taste of what camp will be like. If you aren’t associated with any particular denomination, consider presenting at school extracurricular programs or community centers.
If you can get email addresses from students and parents, send them information about free tours or early bird discounts. Remember that more new campers will be willing to attend if they know their friends are going. You can ask those who register if they can supply the email addresses of one or buddies who may also be interested in finding a new summer destination.
Social media is also a great way to get the word out. Many platforms allow you to take out relatively inexpensive ads that target your demographic. These could be suburban parents or teenage students.
Your ads should appeal to what everyone finds most alluring about summer camp. For kids, this may be freedom and lots of opportunities to socialize. For parents, it’s getting a break while knowing their children are safe and well-cared-for.
5. Design Your Camp Program
Before you establish your program, you’ll want to clearly define your mission as a camp. What are your mission, philosophy, and traditions?
Next, consider gearing your daily programs toward these ends. For example, if your goals involve the physical well-being of your campers, make sure you’re including a well-balanced meal plan. If there is a spiritual element to your program, make sure you include time for quiet meditation.
You may have a goal of inspiring social development, but keep in mind that you’ll have both introverts and extroverts in your camp setting. Make sure that your activities are designed to keep all students engaged at all times.
Often, camps will offer activity time slots where kids can choose from a variety of activities that may interest them. These are alternated with activities that involve cabinmates and those that involve camp-wide entertainment.
Tips for Camp Management
Camp management is an important part of keeping the summer organized and exciting for young people. With the right management tools and some creative planning, you could have a thriving summer camp in no time.
Don’t stop getting smart about your business now. For more great advice, read our blog today.