3 No-Cost Ways to Fill Your Summer Camp

With a little advance planning, you can fill your camps this summer.  ActivityHero shares best practices from day camps that fill up and even have a wait list.

By Peggy Chang

Camp owner outside with kids
Families spend a lot of money on camps each year – in fact, according to the American Camp Association, camps are a $15 billion industry. How did your camp do last summer? At ActivityHero, we’re able to analyze thousands of registrations to share three enrollment-boosting strategies, all of which require little more than rethinking your approach to scheduling.

1. Attract the Early-Bird Planners

You know that some parents plan earlier than others — but what may surprise you is just how early they start planning. It’s likely even earlier than you think. Some parents start signing up for summer camp even before Thanksgiving! On average, ActivityHero summer camp providers have 8 percent of their summer registrations done in January, 45 percent by March, and 74 percent by May.
Chart showing camp registration by month

One more thing to note about early bird planners? They’re influencers who not only register their kids, but also tell their friends about their camp plans. In fact, 44 percent of campers attend with a friend or sibling. These are the customers that matter most to your bottom line.

Bottom line: Aim to get your schedule posted by January 1st at the latest.

Find out how to add a (free) schedule to your website >>

2. Offer More Camps When Demand Is High

Why are some weeks full and other weeks less so? There’s no easy answer, as it depends on a lot of factors. But there are some trends you should know about. Here, the top weeks of summer camp in terms of enrollment and the longest wait list in 2015:

  • Week of June 15, 2015
    This was the first week of summer vacation for many schools. Want to know the last day of school for 2016? Check school calendars of districts near you.
  • Week of July 6, 2015
    You already know that registrations for the 4th of July week can be very unpredictable and depend on what day of the week is the 4th of July. But what may surprise you is the size of the demand for the week following the holiday. We saw strong demand for this week in 2015.
  • Week of August 3, 2015
    We saw the longest wait lists for sessions held the first week of August. Why? Summer camp demand holds steady in August, but competition drops: There are half as many camps available in August as there are in June or July. Many camp providers lose staff as counselors go back to college, and others lose space as schools start prepping for the school year. So if you’re able to keep offering camps in August, you’re likely to see strong attendance.

Bottom line: Pay extra attention to the weeks at the start and end of summer, plus the week after July 4. These can be good times to offer extra sessions.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

Most parents are afraid of missing out on a great opportunity — which means you can encourage them to act a little bit faster by showing session availability. You don’t have to show an exact number of spots left, but we found that an indicator of “spots available” or “few spots left” gets the key information across. And the bonus for you is that showing session availability on your website reduces the number of emails and phone calls asking, “Is Week 2 still available?” (Tip: ActivityHero offers a free schedule tool that you can add to your website to show updated session availability without having to edit your website.)

Bottom line: Communicate how many spaces you have to spur parents to action.

Take Your Membership to the Next Level …

For more valuable tools and services to help you run and grow your business, talk to ActivityHero! Learn how to rank higher on ActivityHero.com search results, accept online payments, and more — with a MarketingHero or SuperHero membership.

Unless otherwise noted, all data in this article has been provided by ActivityHero.

About ActivityHero Team

The ActivityHero Team is based in California and includes staff members and bloggers who love to share what they know about parenting, keeping kids active, choosing just the right camps and classes, and running successful businesses for kids.