6 Tips To Increase Your Summer Camp Attendance


Summer camp is probably one of the most exciting life-changing experiences a child can have—a place to grow, explore, make friends, and pick up new life skills.

Camps have been around for a while now without seeing any decrease in demand.

To make your programs more visible amidst intense competition, ensuring that your summer camp brings unique value to the campers is paramount. 

It’s important to be thoughtful and intentional in giving parents enough time to prepare for camp, offering payment incentives, and acknowledging your campers’ feedback.

This article offers a few tips to help you increase your camp attendance and operate more efficiently while enabling kids to develop essential skills, make connections, learn, and experiment in a safe and fun environment.

Ensure Your Camp Stands Out From the Rest

Many of us who have taken part in camp as kids still cherish the memory of those summer days in the mountains, by the simmering lakes, and the spark-filled campfire nights.

For decades, these fond memories that so many generations hold dear have made summer camps one of the most popular and desirable ways for kids and teenagers to spend their summers.

There are over 15,000 operating camps in the U.S. alone. They all offer a great variety of programs and activities and are all vying for the same audience, making it a highly competitive industry.

This abundance of options is making it hard for parents to choose the one that would be the best fit for their children.

So, what can you do to make your summer camp stand out from the competition? 

Essentially, creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes a vision and strategic approach. 

In this regard, a SWOT analysis is one of the most effective tools a camp manager can use to define their camp’s unique value proposition and distinguish it from the others. 

Identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats your camp faces is crucial to achieving comparative advantage. 

A SWOT analysis will enable you to plan better and reduce the effects of negative factors while benefiting from positive developments.

The SWOT matrix looks like this:

summer-camp-swot-analysis Source: Regpack

Strengths and weaknesses rely on internal aspects, generally things that you can change and have some degree of control over. 

Some of your camp’s strengths might include your camp’s location, amenities, your team of educators and counselors, the quality of your programs and activities, and your mission and values. 

Likewise, you should evaluate your camp’s weaknesses—pain points where your campsite doesn’t do well or areas of concern—for example, recurring high operating expenses, lack of revenue during the off-season, or trouble finding good seasonal staff. 

On the other hand, opportunities and threats are shaped by external factors or the greater economic context in which the camp operates. 

When exploring opportunities, you should look into expanding program offerings or improving the administrative side of doing business. 

You could, for instance, consider partnering with local businesses that could offer tailored workshops or investing in technology that can help you streamline your operations. 

Threats typically refer to the external factors that can challenge the camp’s future success. Examples include bad weather, strong local competition, and safety and security issues.

In addition, performing a SWOT analysis on your main competitors will help you identify gaps in the market and allow you to define your unique value proposition better. 

To sum up, a SWOT analysis will enable you to define your strengths, prepare you to take advantage of new opportunities, alleviate your weaknesses, and safeguard your camp from foreseeable threats. 

It will also encourage you to look at your business in new ways and from different perspectives. 

Ultimately, you’ll gain more confidence in highlighting your camp’s unique features and promoting it as the most incredible spot to spend the summer, thus increasing your attendance rates. 

Give Families Enough Time to Prepare for Camp

For families with kids, making plans for the summer doesn’t happen overnight. It usually requires careful planning, shifting schedules, aligning calendars, and saving up some money. 

On top of that, parents will have to deal with summer camp program details, back-and-forth emails, payments, and registrations. Not to mention packing and preparing their loved ones for a summer adventure on their own.

This can become overwhelming, especially for busy parents struggling with a constant lack of time. 

Families who feel pressured to sort things out in a limited timeframe will likely give up the idea of sending their kids to summer camp altogether. 

In other words, giving parents enough time to plan and prepare is crucial if your goal is to retain and increase camp attendance.

To facilitate this process, you need to focus on a few strategic steps.

To begin with, consider opening camp registration early enough to allow parents sufficient time to make all necessary preparations for camp without stressing out.  

That also gives them more time to explore options and research programs, and more dates to choose from. In short, it makes it easier for families to work the summer activities into their schedule. 

On your camp’s side, opening registration early is a great way to maximize participation and stay operational during the off-season by getting early payments in.

For optimum results, you’ll have to make sure your camp’s website contains all relevant information about activities, daily schedules, rates, and testimonials before launching the registration date.

And most importantly, ensure that the registration process is concise and easy to complete. The best way to achieve this is by enabling parents to register directly on your website using online registration software. 

regpack-feature-overview Source: Regpack

Once your website is updated and registrations open, it’s time to spread the word and reach as many future campers as possible. 

Social media are a powerful digital marketing tool that can help you promote your camp’s program and build excitement for the upcoming summer camp activities. 

Popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great places to advertise to potential campers and their parents. 

Post engaging and relevant content that will resonate with your target audience, like photos, videos, and testimonials. Don’t forget to share the photos your campers posted of having a good time in the previous years.

Lastly, another way to increase summer camp attendance is by offering early bird discounts to families who register in advance. 

Offering, for instance, a 10% to 20% discount rate will encourage parents to register their children as soon as possible. This opportunity will not only save them money but give them peace of mind, as well.

Send out emails and reminders to parents about the registrations and discounts using a language that inspires urgency. When they weigh their options, the risk of ending up with higher costs or even losing a spot for their children will motivate parents to act quickly.  

Following these few strategic steps will give parents enough time to plan for the summer, benefiting your enrollment and recruitment efforts. 

Communicate With Parents About Attendance

If you want a good turnout for your summer camp, you need to make sure parents are well-informed about all the specifics of what it offers.

It’s essential to keep parents in the loop before, during, and after camp because they have decision-making power regarding when and where their children will spend their summer. 

Namely, convincing them about the value and advantages of summer camp, informing them about your program and activities, cost, registration dates, and procedures, is of utmost importance if you want to attract new campers and keep your regular ones. 

Another critical aspect to think about is, again, the timing. With a good communication strategy, you’ll be able to spread emails to your target audiences throughout the year.

An effective way to achieve this is by taking advantage of scheduled and automated emails

regpack-email-illustration Source: Regpack

This feature, which comes with many camp registration platforms, will allow you to set up trigger-based email automations, saving you the trouble of typing and manually sending countless emails to every individual parent. 

In practice, this means that specific emails are linked to particular events. When the event takes place, that triggers the email to be automatically sent, ensuring that parents get the right information at the right time. 

For example, a week before the start of the camping session, parents will receive a welcome email outlining everything they need to know in order to prepare, and pack for their kids. 

Or, whenever a parent submits a payment, they will receive a payment confirmation email. 

You can also set up email notifications and reminders about approaching closing dates, their child’s progress, next year’s sessions, new activities, and even season’s greetings. 

If your camp doesn’t already use camp registration software incorporating this feature, it’s wise to consider obtaining one. 

It will make your communication efforts run seamlessly and raise your summer camp’s overall brand recognition. Besides, parents will appreciate being kept in the know.

Make It Easy to Pay by Offering Payment Plans

Families on a fixed income may find it difficult to pay for their kids’ summer camp all at once. 

In such cases, offering payment plans will provide parents with more flexibility and convenience, allowing them to pay off the price of camp over time. 

Presenting several payment options and offering online payment forms on your website will help make financing camp easier.

The camp registration software developed by Regpack incorporates a highly flexible billing platform, which allows camp managers to set up different payment plans to meet their campers’ needs. 

For example, you can decide what kind of payment plans you want to offer the families.

Families can then choose the payment plan that works best with their budget and finances and enables them to pay off the cost of camp in installments. 

regpack-payment-plan-schedule Source: Regpack

They will even receive automatic reminders when the payments are due.

As I  explained in one of my other articles:

Paying in installments actually shifts the burden back to the businesses, so it’s a better deal for customers. It gives buyers more agency in their financial lives and allows them to set the terms for how they want to use their spending power.

According to our data analysis, businesses that have implemented this technology have seen revenue growth by an average of 32%, which means that this software solution benefits the provider as much as the consumer. 

However, with everyone on a different plan, keeping up with individual payment due dates and balances can be a true challenge. 

To facilitate payments and make the process even easier, we at Regpack included an option in their software for recurring billing and payments

With this option, parents will be charged automatically according to a payment schedule—whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Ultimately, setting up payment plans can make summer camp more affordable and accessible for families who would otherwise struggle to send their kids away for the summer.

In turn, such an option helps with payment collections, improves the camp’s cash flow, and positively affects camp attendance rates. 

Offer Financial Aid to Disadvantaged Families

As we’ve mentioned in the introduction, summer camp can be one of the most formative experiences in the life of a child.

Besides giving urban children a chance to reconnect with nature, camp allows for broader skill development, building self-confidence, making friendships, and adopting healthy lifestyles.

As Charles Elliot, an American academic and former President of Harvard University, said:

summer-camp-quote Illustration: Regpack / Source: West News Magazine

In a study from the American Camp Association, 92% of youth surveyed reported that camp helped them “feel good about themselves” and establish a true sense of independence.

And even though every child deserves such an experience, some families can’t afford camp at all. 

So, if a summer camp wants to stand out amid the competition, one way is to offer financial assistance to disadvantaged families to help them make attendance possible for their kids.

To make a financial assistance program possible, you can take into account several approaches:

  • secure donations from generous families
  • organize targeted fundraising events
  • establish a scholarship fund
  • approach businesses for sponsorships

When offering financial aid, you should make an effort to clearly state that fact on the camp’s website and on the registration form.

Families must have access to information on who qualifies for financial aid and how to apply for it.

They need to know, for instance, whether to fill out a specific field on the camp’s registration form, how to provide evidence of income, and who to contact if they have any questions.

You should also include information on the application deadline, how financial aid is awarded, and when the decisions will be announced.

Opening up your camp’s doors to the less fortunate kids is a noble thing to do.

It will empower more children to choose active, outdoor lifestyles and learn about themselves, nature, and the importance of being part of a larger community.

It will also help you create a culture of inclusivity and memorable camp experiences for youths from all backgrounds.

Listen to What Your Campers Want Out of Camp

To ensure your camp only gets better summer after summer, keep your eyes and ears open for your campers’ reactions, comments, complaints, and suggestions.

The best way to gather this information is by creating a feedback survey and distributing it to every participant right after each camp session. 

Surveys are a powerful tool that camp managers use at the end of the summer season to gain insights from campers, their parents, and camp staff and to keep a pulse on what went well and what can be improved.

Timing is of great importance here. Getting your campers to share their feelings and responses while the impressions from the summer camp are still fresh in their minds will provide you with the most valuable answers.

when-to-send-surveys Illustration: Regpack / Data: GetResponse

You would commonly want to ask your campers why they chose your camp, which activities they enjoyed the most, and whether they encountered problems or had any negative experiences. 

Additionally, try to gauge how satisfied they are with the overall organization of the camp and if the camp program has met their expectations.

It’s also vital to hear their recommendations on what can be improved and what they would want to experience out of camp in the future.

If you’re already using software to manage your camp registrations, you can take advantage of the feature that allows you to create feedback surveys and distribute them to your campers by email.

Most likely, you can create a survey the same way you create registration forms and avoid relying on third-party survey websites.

Once you gather the results from the survey, it’s time to put the feedback into action. 

The insights you gain through the campers’ unique experiences can be further used to make informed decisions, plan for better-tailored improvementsand ensure your campers are eager to return the following year.  


To increase summer camp attendance and keep pace year in and out, you’ll have to assess your program’s overall effectiveness and identify what makes your camp distinct.

In this regard, a carefully conducted SWOT analysis will give you a better idea of your camp’s strong sides and what causes setbacks.

Solid camp registration software will enable you to easily communicate important updates via automated email, offer payment plans that best fit the needs of your campers’ families, or offer discounts for early birds.

Lastly, surveys will help you determine which activities and programs are most popular and which areas may need more attention. 

All these efforts will not only enable you to fill out your quota ahead of time, but create a summer camp program that will bring joy and freedom to explore to as many children as possible for many years to come.

About The Author
Asaf Darash

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