Summer Camp Marketing Ideas

When a Summer Camp should Promote

For a full presentation on expanding your online presence, download the powerpoint I used for my presentation at the ACA Tristate Conference.

So you know what a typical camper is worth to you over its tenure at your camp after using our summer camp retention analysis tool. Now what?

Did you know that the average marketing budget for most non-profits represents between 9 and 11 percent of the overall budget? And maybe your camp is different, but at the places I’ve worked, camp marketing budgets tend to fall far below that. It makes sense, to some degree. We’re a word-of-mouth enterprise. Most of our new summer campers will come because their Moms went here, or because little Jack across the street said he couldn’t wait to go back next year.

If your camp is like mine, however, you’ll occasionally get a comment like this:

“Oh, I found you in the pennysaver,” New Camp Mom says.
“And you’d never heard about us elsewhere?” I’d ask, incredulously.
“Nope. But then I went to the website, and Robin thought it looked like fun!”

Go, and Promote your Camp!

And just like that, your camp has added your “what each camper is worth” figure to its bottom line, and it hasn’t even accounted for the gains possible if Robin brings a friend next year, or if her family decides to hold a family reunion there during retreat season.

Parents send their children to camp for all variety of reasons, but one thing all of those parents have in common is that they have heard about your camp.

If you have your number on what each camper is worth (WECIW) over its tenure at your camp, you can use it in the following manner.

Say your WECIW # is $800. This is enough to run a targeted Google Adwords campaign for keywords like Summer Camp in [insert your area] for a handful of months (depending on what sort of campaign you run). With how people use the internet these days, do you have any doubt that you’ll be able to generate at least 1 new camper in 3 months of using Google Adwords? 2.4 million searches are done each month (source: google keyword tool) on Summer Camp. Those peak months are April, May, and June. Obviously, there are no guarantees when it comes to marketing, but given that our campers are worth so much to our bottom line – isn’t marketing your camp a relatively small risk?

Camper for Life!

Another big point this data makes to me is what aged camper benefits our camp the most. A quick perusal of camp promotional videos shows a lot of fast-paced boating, ropes courses of dizzying heights, someone white-water kayaking, and other such adventures. These things are a blast – I know I love all of them myself! But when a parent of a 7 year old child encounters your promotional material, what do you think they are looking for? In all likelihood, they want someplace that looks safe, counselors that look nice, and an environment that seems loving. It’s very likely that your camp IS all of those things, so make sure your prospective campers and parents know about that via your promotional materials! Aside from raw dollar values, bringing in young campers really starts to make a difference when considering the exponential gains of referrals. Obviously, a 7 year old will have a lot longer to refer other friends than a 17 year old.

As an industry, we are drastically under marketed. People need to know how darn important camp is in the lives of young people. They need to know about as many camps as possible. They need know the statistics about how it’s impacted so many people. If some don’t think summer camp is relevant anymore, that’s their loss. But it’s our job to make sure they know we’re still around and changing lives. When people encounter your promotional material, make sure they know that a lot more is at stake than a good time!

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