Every year kids and teens look forward to going back to summer camp. They reunite with their friends they haven’t seen all year and join together for fun activities and programs you offer. Your campers don’t have a care in the world as they head into summer camp season—but it’s likely that you feel a mounting stress every year as camp approaches.
Summer camp preparation is no minor undertaking. Your team should be as prepared as possible for any obstacle the summer may bring before the kids arrive. From finding unique fundraising methods to support your camp for another year, to ensuring your camp runs as smoothly as possible, you undoubtedly have a lot to stress over.
But, preparing for your summer camp doesn’t need to be a stressful task. Summer camps should be fun and exciting for all involved, not just the campers!
If you want to set your camp up for success and be ready to host an amazing summer camp, make sure you:
- Invest in camp management software.
- Host fundraisers for your camp.
- Effectively hire and train your summer camp staff.
- Learn from your previous camps.
- Promote your camp online.
Don’t let summer camp preparations get in the way of you and your campers fully enjoying everything your camp has to offer. Let’s get started and prepare you to take on summer camp season with ease.
1. Invest in camp management software.
To give your camp its best chance at hosting seamless and efficient summer camp sessions, you should allow camp management software to take on the brunt of the most tedious, but important, tasks.
There are a lot of camp management software platforms on the market, and it can be difficult to know which would be best for your organization. Find camp software that is one-of-a-kind and has tools to suit your every need. Look for essential features like:
Online registration tools.
Possibly the most crucial feature for your camp software is that you cannot efficiently manage camper registration without an online registration tool. Don’t forget to make sure the registration forms are completely customized and branded to your organization. Your campers’ parents should be able to decide on housing and roommate options and register multiple children at once—remember, the software should have built-in payment processing for easy registration.
Self-scheduling camper activities.
Your software should enable your campers to view and sign-up for activities and events that your camp hosts via a digital platform. Let your campers plan ahead and get excited for all that your camp offers. Plus, with a digital activity scheduler, you can easily see and anticipate which events will be most popular and then plan accordingly.
Electronic health center.
Campers should never be without their sensitive medical information, but it can be hard to keep track of all this data with only binders and spreadsheets. The right software tool will enable you to digitally house allergy and medical information as well as connect to an RFID or barcode that the camper can wear on a durable wristband throughout their session.
Camper prospecting tools.
Find a tool that will allow your camp staff to identify new leads for campers and make sure they continue through to the camp registration process. This tool can give you a better sense of how many kids are interested in joining your camp and where they are in the process.
Camper profile builder.
Your database conveniently holds all of your camper information in an easy-to-read displayed camper profile. A clear and concise camper profile should be one of the primary goals behind utilizing a camp software.
Don’t let adopting a more comprehensive tech solution be something you overlook or ignore just because you might not want to deviate from your current strategy. Camp software helps streamline the entire administrative process and helps facilitate an awesome camp for all involved.
2. Host fundraisers for your camp.
Your camp cannot function properly or host the events and activities that your campers love so much without sufficient funds. To make sure your camp can itself throughout the summer, you should spend a portion of the lead-up to summer focusing on fundraising opportunities for your group.
There are so many fundraising ideas for kids out there that are fun and will encourage the people who benefit from your camp services to participate. These ideas include:
- Hosting a shoe drive fundraiser.
- Organizing a fun run.
- Planning a community field day.
- Holding a charity auction.
These ideas are likely to get your community excited about supporting your summer camp. These events also require participants to be physically present. The events allow campers and prospective campers to meet, and it lets parents learn more about what your camp offers.
However, your camp website should also be equipped with a quality online donation tool. Some of your families might not live close by but still want to support the camp’s fundraising efforts. You should ensure that there is an efficient and effective way for donors to contribute to your camp from the comfort of their own devices.
To learn more about online donation, check out Double the Donation’s expert list of top online donation tools.
3. Effectively hire and train your camp staff.
Quality, hardworking staffers are the lynchpin that holds a summer camp together. All members of your staff, from the administrative team to the custodial staff and nurses, to the camp counselors and lifeguards, need to be prepared to handle any potential challenge that comes their way.
Hiring your summer camp staff is one of the most important decisions you will make as you prepare for your camp season. The software that you choose to utilize should be specifically equipped with tools that will aid in the hiring process. You should ensure that your software will allow you to find previous campers that are good potential candidates to become staffers.
But don’t let the helpful hiring features end there. Your software should help you through the hiring process. You should be able to:
- Build and analyze staffer profiles.
- Manage online applications.
- Prepare for and take notes during interviews.
- Understand staff performance.
- Extend job offers electronically.
These tools will help you as you begin training your staff as well. Staff training should not only equip staffers with all the tools they need to succeed at your camp, but it is also a great opportunity for you to get to know your staffers.
During training, you should facilitate activities that help your staffers get more comfortable with one another as well as create a bond of trust between all members in all positions at your camp.
Prepare for the best summer yet with the right staff. You should prioritize staffing leading up to the beginning of camp and utilize any tool that helps streamline the process.
Check out more summer camp staffing strategies by clicking here.
4. Learn from your previous camps.
Success is all about evolving as a camp and figuring out what you can do to enhance the camper, staffer, and parent experience with your group.
To best do this, send out evaluation forms after each season to parents, campers, and staffers. Use them to gather information on campers’ experiences, and then use them to plan for the next year.
When surveying campers, focus on their experience during the camp and whether or not they enjoyed their time. Parents are more likely to send their kid back to camp if they know they loved it there. Consider asking questions like:
- What was your favorite activity?
- What was your least favorite activity?
- On a scale of 1-10, how was the camp food?
When surveying staffers, narrow your focus to home in on the training aspect of their experience as well as their time during the camp. You may ask questions like:
- How well did training prepare you for the tasks you were asked to perform?
- Where there any instances that you felt unprepared?
- Is there anything you would change before next year?
You want to ensure staffer retention because a good summer camp staff is hard to find, so be explicit in your survey questions when you ask for potential areas for improvement.
When evaluating the parents’ experiences, ask questions about the registration and communication processes. You can ask questions like:
- On a scale of 1-10, how easy was our camp registration software to use?
- Would you recommend our camp your friends for their kids?
- Is there any way we can make the camp experience better for you?
Parents decide whether their child is going to return to your camp the following year, and word of mouth is an excellent way to promote your camp. Don’t neglect including parents in your evaluation surveys.
Learn more about how to survey key people about their camp experience with CircuiTree’s guide to summer camp evaluation forms.
5. Promote your camp.
You and your administrative team are likely always looking for more campers to help grow your camp. To do this, you must effectively promote your group. People need to hear about your camp in positive ways before they even think about sending their child to you.
There are many ways to promote a summer camp, including via:
- Your website. Your website should be a one-stop-shop for everything that a potential camper or parent should know. Showcase the unique, high-quality camp experience that you offer. Don’t forget that you can sell camp t-shirts online that will help spread the word about your camp—and get campers excited for their upcoming session.
- Email campaigns. Send out regular email newsletters that inform your existing campers about the upcoming sessions, and offer insights about additional ways they can be involved. You should highlight the success of the previous year and invite them to participate in future camps.
- Social Media. Depending on the average age of your campers, they may have social media accounts of their own. If not, most of their parents probably will. Don’t overlook social media marketing as an excellent opportunity to spread the word about your camp. Social media campaigns are easily shareable and can greatly impact the visibility of your group.
Promoting your camp, both to returning and prospective campers is imperative in the months leading up to your start date. There are so many options for summer camps, and you should make sure people know why they should send their kids to yours.
The months leading into your camp are crucial for continued success, but if you plan correctly and utilize the proper tools, it doesn’t need to be a stressful season. Set your camp up for success and follow these top tips as you prepare for an awesome summer!