Remember, You Have 2 Summer Camp Clients!
It's critical to keep reminding parents of the value of your camp experience for their children so that they are willing to 're-invest' next year. It is also imperative that you give campers a 'Sneak Peak' of what's next for them, so that they are eager to come back and ultimately to 'whine' to their parents if they hear talk about not returning to camp.
In a 'perfect world' where none of us live, you would have year-to-year progressive programs, kids would understand the sequence and be naturally motivated to return to achieve their goals. If that is not your situation and you only have subtle differences between age groups for activities, responsibilities, rituals and camp roles ... then test a new approach to increase retention.
TAKE ACTION NOW.
- Identify your 'softest' re-enrollment group by age. Compare their current program with the next year's version. Highlight the differences and confirm that the elements are intriguing enough to cause excitement. For this exercise, let's focus on 8 year olds.
- Set the stage. Determine the best time for 8 year old campers to glimpse the age 9 program, play with them or participate in the fun. Have a deliberate, age-appropriate conversation with the 8 year olds that captures their enthusiasm and intention to come back.
- Bring parents into the conversation. As soon as campers depart, have the initial 'transition' communication with mom and dad that talks about 're-investing' in their child and their child's reason to return to camp.
- Keep campers focused. Communicate regularly (ideally monthly) with campers to keep them connected to camp and aware of their reason to return next summer.
Diligently track enrollments for 2015 in this age group to determine if the effort works. My prediction is that your retention will increase and you'll expand this 'Sneak Peak' effort in 2016.
(Note from Travis: We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith! If you don't already you should sign up to receive these HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)