Guest blog by Glen Greenstone, CircuiTree
We’re pleased to introduce Glen Greenstone as our guest blogger today. Before becoming a camp professional, Glen enjoyed many other pursuits. A native San Diegan, he worked through college as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. He has a passion for literature and the outdoors, and is a veteran of U.S. Coast Guard, so he naturally loves to get out on the water with his wife and two kids whenever possible. He loves hearing camp cheers outside his office window during the summer, while helping camps across the country overcome their unique challenges!
Spring break is the time of year kids yearn for. During the spring season, there aren’t any national holidays to give students a break from school and they’re ready to spend their vacations doing something fun. That’s why many youth organizations offer spring break camps, a place where kids can truly make the most of their time off.
Spring break camp isn’t just an exciting time for kids, but a relief for parents too. Parents love knowing that spring break camps exist— they can go to work without worry as they send their kids off to camp.
To have a truly successful spring break camp you need to have the right tools. It’s hard planning the right program that will attract campers and their parents. That’s why almost all organizations turn to software solutions for marketing to families while keeping internal processes organized to increase camper safety. With tools specifically catered to a camp’s needs, you can effectively plan a program that will engage all participants.
Even if you already have a tool your organization depends on, it’s a good idea to review your processes. In this guide, we’ll go over the basics for planning a successful spring break camp with these strategies:
- Start planning early.
- Get campers to register.
- Help parents feel secure with camper safety.
Throughout each of the strategies, you can leverage your camp management tools to truly maximize your success. Look into a comprehensive solution now, and let’s get started!
1. Start planning early
The first step is to plan ahead. This means figuring out your camp’s staffing strategy and creating your programming.
Ample preparation is important because your spring break program involves youth. It’s great to have a camp program that engages young children and teens, but it can also come with some risks. Keeping their safety at a top priority is key, which is why having capable staffers and camp management software is so important. This way campers are in trusted hands and there’s less risk of important camper data and information being inaccurate or missing.
Below you’ll learn about two key components when it comes to planning early.
You probably already have your camps established, whether they’re sports, nature-related, or art-based, early on in the process. In addition, many organizations plan their spring break camp as a fundraiser and encourage their campers to purchase a camp t-shirt for charity. If this seems like something you’d like to do, check outBonfire’s guide.
If you like to keep each year’s spring break programming different, start by identifying your venue so that you can determine possible activities. Here are some examples of places to host a spring break camp:
- A school while not in session.
- The local recreational center.
- City parks in the area.
Consider places that can host a wide range of activities, as you’ll have more to offer your campers while they’re with you. You can also make sure you choose staff that are experienced for the activities you plan to host.
Your camp’s staffing strategies should start well before the spring season comes along. It’s important that you effectively review candidates and pick the best ones for the program.
It makes sense to pull camp staff from your own community, whether they’re past campers or those who were counsellors before. They already have a sense of what the program is about, they have experience, and you know them. Using this pool and other qualified individuals, go through an interview process to pick out those who would be the best fit.
From there, always go through the following steps before hiring.
- Run a background check.
- Call all references.
- Determine their strengths and what roles they would correspond to.
- Make sure they have the proper accreditations (Youth care, CPR & first aid, etc.).
It’s important that you know the staff well enough to trust them with your own kids. Make sure you’ve properly covered all bases, leaving nothing to fall through the cracks. It’s a smart idea to track this hiring process within your camp management software. This way you can have a comprehensive look at your staff and have the necessary forms and data at hand.
2. Get campers to register
As you get closer to the program date, consider the best way to attract campers. No matter how much a child wants to attend your program, you need to also meet the needs of their parents.
Developing a marketing strategy is important to spread the word about your program and get users registered. However, this is more than just sending out an email or having a basic website. Using your camp management tools, there are ways to target your content to the most viable candidates. Additionally, your tools can shape the registration process for the parent, making signing their child up quick and easy.
Leverage your camp management software and consider these top ways to increase camper registration:
- Capture new leads on your website. When parents want a little more information on your program, they’re going to search for it on the internet. Use your camp software to track the new users who visit your site and start the registration process. This way you can stay in touch and follow up with those users for registration.
- Keep track of requests for information. As soon as a curious parent has a request, your camp management software should send out the appropriate materials to them.
- Customize registration. Make sure your camp management software allows you to customize the camp registration form. Create it to fit your exact program. For example, add an allergy form if you are serving food. This way you can prevent simple things like an allergic reaction (hint: ePACT can help with this!).
- Group registrations for families. Often times parents will want to enroll multiple children in your program. Make sure your software can handle group registration and make it easy for parents to add multiple names to a registration.
Making sure your tools and systems are capable is important for camp success and increased enrollment. For more strategies on how to increase camp registration, read this guide.
3. Help parents feel secure with camper safety.
Ultimately, it’s important that parents feel at ease dropping their child off for a program. This goes beyond making sure you have an emergency contact number for each of your campers or the necessary waivers signed. Using camp management software, you can effectively store the necessary data to keep campers safe. It’s made available to your staff whenever needed, helping reduce any incidents at your camp.
Placing children’s safety at a top priority means making sure all of your internal processes are working seamlessly and efficiently. If a parent calls in making sure their child has been checked-in, make sure your staff has the most updated and accurate information. Ensure a safe camper check-in with:
- Paper free check-ins. Facilitate the whole process on a tablet instead of risking papers falling loose or another form of human error. Additionally, this way all staff members have the most current information.
- Automated check-in process: As soon as a child is checked-in, camp management software can create a profile for them in your system. Further, it can send an email notifying parents of their child’s safety.
- A barcode enabled wristband: Each camper’s profile can be accessed through a barcode on their wristband. This can come in handy if there is a medical emergency. Just check the instructions and context for the situation on the wristband! Parents will love knowing that this pertinent information is easily accessible. Alternatively, ePACT offers a mobile app that provides authorized staff with real-time, on the go access to camper information, even without an internet connection!
- Transportation tracking: If your program involves moving your campers on a shuttle bus or even an airplane, camp management software can make this process easy. You can offer charter busses or shuttles for easy transportation, as well as provide flight stats if it involves flying!
It’s important that everyone is comfortable during your camp program, and this also involves those who are not physically there, like parents and other guardians. There are many ways to stay safe and camp management software can help. Many organizations turn to management software to ensure data is centralized and nothing gets accidentally swept aside.
For example, many higher education institutions take advantage of camp management software when they host youth programs. This is to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that all pertinent data is accounted for. To learn more, check out CircuiTree’s guide to youth protection in higher education.
Take a look at your camp management tools and plan early to prepare for a great spring break program. After following these steps, you’ll be close to maximizing your success and getting those camper registrations in. Good luck!
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