So, your camp is in the off season right now.
All the craziness has come and gone. The kids are back home, the staff is all paid, the equipment is all cleaned up… so now what?
Although for a couple days or weeks following camp you can definitely treat yourself to a well-deserved break, if you’re serious about keeping your camp viable for years and years to come, there’s only so much of an “off season” you can really have.
After all, your campers don’t just stop existing the minute they leave camp!
Keeping the connection between your kids and your camp is a year-round job. Here are a couple tips for keeping that link stronger than ever!
Establish Guidelines for Social Media
In the modern world, the minute we start talking about keeping up a connection with a large group of people over long distances, the first thing your mind probably jumps to is social media.
And that’s good! Social media is a fantastic way to keep campers engaged and thinking “camp” long after the last one shuffled out the door, and we’ll get to all the possibilities social media can offer in just a minute.
But before you go crazy building up online connections with your campers, you’re first going to want to establish some basic rules.
This typically applies more to your staff than to the public social media pages of your camp itself, because your staff all obviously have lives outside of camp.
How much do you want your employees to stay in touch with your kids during the off season? How much of your staff’s daily life do you want your campers to be able to see?
It’s important to establish guidelines for these sorts of questions well before you start running into any complications!
Keep Up Year-Round Social Media Accounts
OK, we got all the boring rule-type stuff out of the way. Now on to the fun stuff – social media!
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts are all really effective ways to keep the camp-camper connection strong during the off season. Remind kids how much fun camp was by posting regular pictures and messages about the amazing times you all had.
Share pictures of camp, share status updates from campers who’ve returned home, share videos, reflective thoughts on camp and “behind the scenes” updates from your staff. These are just a couple suggestions – take these ideas and run with them!
Social media is a great way to keep campers engaged and eager to get back to camp just as soon as they can get the chance.
Post Updates Via Email
Another great way to keep in touch with your campers is through good old email.
Although it might not always be as flashy or fun as a Facebook post, email is a terrific way to share exciting updates, reminders, or blog posts from your website.
While it’s true sending out giant email blasts is typically super tedious and time-consuming to do by hand, automated software can make this part of keeping up camper connections a breeze.
Send out emails to any group of campers you feel like with automated filtering software, and store all your email templates in one place – right in your organization system!
A successful email update can keep your campers both informed and engaged year-round.
Pro tip: Handwritten Holiday Cards!
If you want to take it old school, sending out handwritten “Happy Holidays” cards with a note about when camp registration opens is a great double whammy marketing tip! You keep the connection alive, reconnect with past campers AND market registration!
Remember to Personalize!
Especially when you’re dealing with large amounts of campers all at once, it can sometimes be easy to forget how much people love being treated like, well, people!
Nothing you send out to your campers should ever feel generic or forced.
There are a lot of different ways to go about doing that. Again, filtering software will let you select specific groups of campers to talk to if you think that could work.
You should also always remember to start all of your emails with your campers’ own first names, and on your social media you might even think about sending shout-outs to specific campers if something reminds you of them during the year.
These are just a few things you might want to think about to keep that special camper connection going strong.
The important thing is to always keep your kids thinking about camp, no matter how far away it might seem. It’s how you get people coming back year after year, and it’s also just plain fun!
Don’t be afraid to play around with different ideas you might come up with for maintaining contact with your campers. There are a lot of possibilities out there. Find what works best for you!