As the weather gets warmer, it’s usually the time to start getting excited and prepared for the busiest season in the camp industry: summer. Compiling all your summer camp tech solutions, setting up registration forms, and hiring counselors.
However, with COVID-19 encouraging more people to stay at home and many camps canceling their first sessions, it’s hard to say where your camp may stand.
It’s important that health and safety remain a top priority, so determine the next best steps based on your camp’s program and the activities it consists of. It makes sense to start preparation as early as possible to make sure you have the essential processes and guidelines figured out.
Your best bet is to invest in comprehensive and dedicated tech solutions to help you through the entire camp management process. This will allow you to easily update parents on urgent announcements while also keeping your entire camp staff connected and on the same page.
Tech solutions elevate your camp in ways you never imagined
Not only will they make managing the entire program simple and intuitive, but they also ensure that all protocols and guidelines are centralized, increasing camper safety. Nothing slips through the cracks with the right camp management software.
Though this summer is full of uncertainty, you don’t need to halt all processes. It’s important to still consider the different ways you can elevate your camp experience, whether it’s for this summer or to gear up for next year. Along with prioritizing the camper experience, your tools should ensure the right activities are in place and that your camp staff is qualified and ready.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure of where to start. With this guide, you’ll learn the best ways to increase summer camp enrollment (even if it’s for next year!) and ensure everyone stays safe
We’ll review the top tech solutions for:
- Camp staffing
- Camper experience
- Parent satisfaction
- Internal processes
Ready to get familiar with the top tech solutions exploding in the camp management industry? Let’s begin.
1. Tech solutions for camp staffing
One of the top ingredients for a great program is the people running it. Without a capable and dependable group of camp counselors and other staff members, it’s hard to ensure your activities are going smoothly.
Your camp staff interacts with campers on a consistent basis. You don’t want to put campers in the hands of someone without basic first aid or experience with groups of kids. Consider contacting past campers/counselors and/or teachers with summers off.
You need to trust your camp staff, not only for your program’s sake but for the safety of your campers and peace of mind for parents.
Make sure you have a solid hiring process in order
With clearly outlined steps and requirements. Equip yourself with the right tech tools to verify that everything remains centralized. After all, it’s important that each staff member goes through the same process and comes in with the same training.
Within your camp management software, you should keep track of each prospective hire’s personal details and have documents ready for reference. This way, if you have to postpone your program, you still have an existing list of potential staff members to reach out to when it’s time.
Make sure your staff hiring and management tools have the following capabilities:
- Customized online staff application
- Your camp staff application should be customized to each specific role, whether it’s head counselor or office staff. That way, you ask all the required questions.
- Interview notes automatically saved to each profile
- The best camp management tool will have a specific section in its interface for you to store ample notes on each candidate you speak with. This comes in handy as you’re reviewing each application, especially if you’re stuck between two prospects.
- Automated reference email process
- Don’t forget to ask for references. They give you a good look into how this prospect would act in a similar work environment.
- However, it can take a lot of time to individually go through each candidate and contact their references. Make your camp management tool do it for you!
- As soon as someone gets to the required stage in the application pipeline, your system can automatically send out reference questions and even record those responses and add them to the appropriate profile.
- Electronic offers
- To keep everything in one system, you should also send out offers electronically! This is also a great way to keep track of responses from each of the candidates. You can then tweak offers as you make note of who accepts and who rejects.
- Onboarding tools
- Once an applicant becomes an official staff member, they need to go through an onboarding process. This should include any necessary training and forms and ensures that your staff comes in with the same knowledge.
- Never make the mistake of someone not knowing the right steps to take when an emergency takes place.
According to this CircuiTree article on camp staffing strategies, centralizing the hiring process within one system simplifies the entire process and helps you find the best team out there. Whether it’s for this year or next.
2. Tech solutions for the camper experience
Kids love going to camp because it’s a fun break from everyday life and a time to engage with each other without the pressure of schoolwork or parents.
Tech solutions for campers should let campers take some control of their own experience, especially if this summer they find themselves staying indoors instead. For one thing, no one wants to spend time at a program that they’re not interested in. This ensures that campers don’t come back and leaves you with a bad reputation.
Here are two ways that your camp management tools can empower campers to shape their own experience: Bunk-mate requests and customizing their schedules.
Whether your camp is a multi-week sleepaway camp or just has a short term overnight component, kids are going to have an opinion to who they’re bunking with and the sleeping arrangements.
Make sure your camp registration software can:
- Allow camper roommate requests
- If a camper already knows who they want to bunk with, give them an option to invite others to be their roommates. The other camper can simply accept or reject the request and your software will record that. This is also a great way to attract new prospects! Kids often attend camps to spend time with their friends and might be more likely to if they know they’ll be bunkmates.
- Automate roommate selections
- Your camp management software should have an intuitive algorithm to determine the best housing situation if campers don’t have a preference. Program your software to automate the best housing based on age, gender, and certain preferences!
Give campers the choice to make their experience exponentially better!
Make your own schedule
Depending on the type of camp you host, you might offer different programs and a variety of activities. As campers are registering, give them an option to choose the specifics before the camp even starts. This way, campers know what to expect from the moment the program starts.
You can even get the campers’ opinions with a survey on what kind of activities to plan! For instance, would they want a fun end-of-program dance? Or perhaps to participate in a charitable fundraiser and choose where the funds go?
The camp experience is most genuinely felt by the attendees themselves. Adults often look back at summer camp memories with a twinge of nostalgia and as a period of growth. Ensure that your summer camp has the tools to provide that genuine and much-needed experience.
3. Tech solutions for parent satisfaction
While it’s important that campers enjoy their time, you also have to consider the parents. After all, they’re the ones who truly make the decision to register.
Take a look at your camp management software and make sure you have the necessary tech solutions to ensure that their experience is streamlined and efficient throughout the entire process. This includes from the initial registration to the moment the camper is checked-out.
Optimized online registration
Often, organizations see many individuals not even completing a registration form. Whether there were too many questions or the questions required too much effort, many end up exiting the window and moving on to something else.
Your camp’s online registration process is more crucial now than ever. With many families working from home, they’re going to want an optimal user experience as soon as they click on your website.
Your camp registration tool should ensure:
- Customized online registration branded to your camp
- Only ask the questions you need for a quick and easy process!
- Securely processed payments
- Don’t turn parents away by sending them to an unfamiliar page. Instead, make sure their financial information is safe in your system.
- Multiple campers are registered with ease
- Some parents are sending multiple kids to camp and don’t want to fill out the same information over and over again.
Your online registration should be intuitive and easy to fill out!
Child safety is a priority.
Parents often register their kids for camp to keep them occupied while school is out of session. However, this doesn’t mean they’d drop them off with just anyone. Ensure your camp management software can send real-time updates and connect parents to their campers with ease.
Consider these capabilities:
- Transportation updates for safety
- Keep parents updated as campers are traveling to and from camp, especially if you host a day camp that takes kids to a more secluded location with an unreliable cell connection. Post updates no matter if they’re traveling by charter bus, shuttle, or even flights.
- Safe and secure check-in/out process
- Often parents call to make sure that their camper has arrived safely. Streamline the check-in/out process with a digital tablet connected to your software that displays pictures of each camper. This way, no stray papers fall through the cracks and each staff member has the same information.
- Barcode enabled wristband
- Equip each of your campers with a barcode enabled wristband that connects to critical medical information, other details, and can even make payments charged to the parents’ accounts.
- Parents can add money limits and ensure that medical records and prescriptions are all correct.
Youth safety is important, especially in camp programs. One of the best ways to ensure that campers are always protected is with camp management software. This way, all essential data, and protocols are centralized in one, accessible place.
Want to learn more about youth protection? Check out this article.
Communication is key
Keeping up communication with parents, especially during the program, is crucial. This ensures that parents feel safe and if anything comes up, they can be quickly notified without a hiccup. Having easy access to communication tools is imperative in a time where things could change at any moment.
Additionally, provide ways for parents to continue to connect with campers with emails/letters from home! This lets parents send campers a one-way message which your staff can print out each day. This also mitigates the risk of anyone becoming too homesick.
If you end up having to cancel your summer camp, you need to let the parents know in an efficient and timely manner. Let them know how sorry you are for the disappointment and provide them with COVID-resources. Keep them informed on the next actions, whether that involves postponing all registrations until the next session or how to start the refund process.
4. Tech solutions for internal camp processes
So far you’ve learned how tech solutions can optimize various parts of the camp management process, from hiring the best staff to communicating with parents to engaging with campers.
On top of improving camp operations, there are other tech solutions that can optimize internal processes. With unprecedented situations causing cancellations left and right, having optimized processes is essential to ensure you’re not scrambling to catch up next year. Overall, the more comprehensive and powerful your camp management solution is, the better you’re going to attract campers and retain them.
How? Consider the following features:
- Prospective camper leads
- Some tools have the ability to track potential campers that visit your website to learn more about your programs. Your software can embed small forms to capture key information. Then, you can stay in touch for future engagement!
- Data in the cloud
- This Accudata article explains how keeping your data clean and optimized is key to any modern organization.
- With a comprehensive camp management software, all your camp data is stored in the cloud. This way, it’s accessible to any staff member and reduces the risk of duplicated or inaccurate data.
- Summer camp reports
- With the right camp management software, you should be able to compile comprehensive reports based on all of your camp data.
- With customized reports, you can better recognize trends like which program was most popular and which marketing strategy worked best.
When you take the steps to improve your internal processes, your entire camp runs more efficiently and can continuously improve.
Learn from past data to make future programs even better.
Don’t fret if you find yourself having to cancel your summer camp. This is the perfect time to ensure you have all the top tech solutions so you’re even more prepared when camps do open back up. Communicate with parents effectively and be sure your tools can react to changing situations seamlessly. Good luck!