Could this be the best summer camp video ever?

Making great camp marketing videos is so important!

Birch Trail Camp for Girls just released their new 2015 marketing video and it is AWESOME.

[We're totally biased, of course, because we were involved in the production of the video but even if we weren't we'd still LOVE it.]

BTC's director, Gabe Chernov, came to me this past winter and said that he'd like to be the one to create the video that I've been talking about in so many of my presentations. (such as 10 Things Every Camp Should Do On YouTube)

I've been so inspired by how photographer Sue Bryce's promo video so clearly talked to her ideal client.   It was focussed on the life of a woman who would love to have her portrait shot by Sue - it wasn't a video about Sue at all.  Because her client could see herself in the video she would be much more likely to purchase a session from Sue than another photographer who's video is all : ME, ME, ME, BUY FROM ME.

The elements that make this video a success:

  • It's narrative (it has a story) so people will watch longer that 60-90 seconds.  I don't know how to say this any plainer: your camp video is too damn long!
  • The music pulls you through the story with a great melody and a wonderful message.
  • It's high end.   Yes, you absolutely can create great camp marketing videos on an iPhone (so long as they are SHORT). This video, however, shows what you get when you're ready to invest in video as a marketing tool.
  • It's emotional.   Yet another camp video of sailboats, kids swimming and your oh-so-clever-grouping of multi-ethnic kids hugging... not emotional.  Boring.
  • It surprises you.  The camera work includes some great angles to really immerse us in the story (I loved being there to see the UAV camera work!).
  • It plainly shows the ways that Birch Trail Camp transforms the lives of the girls and young women that go there.

 Check it out:

What elements of this video do you like or dislike?  Leave us a comment below!

A "HINT" for Wrapping Up Your Summer - Joanna Warren Smith

Scrutinize Your Summer Camp Product

Every Camp Director boasts that he or she had 'the best summer ever.' But even if that is the case, there had to be issues.  No program is perfect and 'good enough' is not the place at which to position your camp in a very competitive marketplace.


  • Debrief with your Leadership Team.  If you've already done this, great, but if not, get everyone together via conference call if necessary to pick apart the summer ... and encourage them to be brutal in their analysis.
  • Prioritize issues to be addressed.  There are 'no brainers' that can be easily fixed and those that will require more attention.  Take care of the obvious ones and focus on the 2 or 3 elements that will cause parents NOT to have their children return.  Solve those issues.
  • Market the changes to parents now.  Along with valid reasons for campers to return, mention the issues that have been resolved.

Consumers do not expect your product to be perfect, but they do have every right to expect that you will be constantly improving both the parent and  camper experiences.


Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email

(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 theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: 

What Lady Gaga Can Teach You About Marketing Summer Camp

Little Monsters - one thing camp people have in common with Lady Gaga. No, I'm not referring to our campers, I mean that we have affectionate nicknames for the important people in our life.

Lady Gaga is a top-selling music artist because she is amazing at building and looking after her community (whom she calls her Little Monsters).   Camp Leaders can learn a lot (and will in this session) from how Lady Gaga's treats her True Fans.

What you will learn in this presentation
1. an understanding of the commitment Gaga makes to her True Fans and how easy it is to do with your camp families
2. a focussed plan to build an intensive two-way relationship with the campers and staff who LIVE to return to your camp.
3. specific actions you can take to build word of mouth referrals from your "Little Monsters"

This interactive presentation (strong visuals and videos) will show camps how to Lady Gaga has become an international sensation and how these lessons can work for camps.   
Your take home strategy: Focus on Your One Percenters, Lead with Values, Build Community, Make Them Feel Like Rock Stars and more.
We will break down each of these strategies and show how other camps are using them currently to fill their bunks.

Essential Tools: for FAAAAST creation of posters, social media photos, etc.

Getting Things Done as a Camp Director is Easier with this Essential Tool

I haven't written about on the blog yet.  I can't believe it!   I've shared this tip with tons of directors this summer.

Canva is a simple editing tool for creating great, beautiful posters, Facebook headers, Instagram pictures with text over them, Pinterest images.   Almost any thing you can think of! It's FAST.

Canva for Camp Pros

To start using Canva (once you've got your account set up) you pick the kind of design you need (see picture above). It will then show you a ton of designs that you can use as starting off points.   

Usually I pick the one that most suits what I'm looking for and then I put my own spin on it.  Those designs are really well done so you may choose one that will fit perfectly from the start. 

You can use the background image that has been provided or upload your own.  Some of those backgrounds are free but many are stock photos/designs that you can purchase when you finalize your poster. 

I usually upload my own images from the folder if great camp pictures that the CampHackers all share.  That means that the majority of my designs are free.

Check out some of the designs that we've made on Canva that have been featured on the CampHacker Instagram account.

What that parent is thinking could change your summer camp [HINT: finding out is easy]

5 Ways Mid-Week Survey's Can Help Your Day Camp

Marketing Camp Makes Veekay Happy

Do you look to your camp families for feedback through surveys? As consumers, we receive survey requests all the time - on our receipts, in email, on a postcard etc. As a day-camp, we've used customer feedback surveys in the past to insure that our camp families were completely satisfied with a their child's experience after a week at camp. Sending surveys at the end of the week offered us some very valuable feedback on staff, location, and other suggestions on how we could improve the program. This year at The Handwork Studio, we implemented a mid-week survey and we saw instantaneous, real-time feedback on our camp programs. Below I've listed 5 ways the mid-week parent feedback survey to parents can help improve your day camp program.

1. Create better experiences

While we work hard to make sure that every single child and their parents had the most amazing week at camp, sometimes this is isn't the case. Sending a survey late on Tuesday helped us identify areas where a camper might not have been having the best possible experience and we could come in and make their time with us better. Sometimes it could be as simple as identifying a certain skill that the child was excited about learning. Whatever the circumstance may be, sending the survey before the camper leaves camp for the week is a sure fire way to turn around a situation and create better experiences for your campers and their parents. Even in the event that the parent and camper are happy, by taking any input they have and letting them know they've been heard, we are creating a memorable customer service experience for the the parents.

2. Understand how your parents perceive your camp

With multiple locations, our Camp Director can't be everywhere at the same time. The surveys we sent out helped us gather important feedback on how our parents were interacting with the staff. We were able to identify what the parent's expectations of staff were, where we needed to make adjustment, and generally overall how well of a job our counselors were doing to deliver amazing experiences to our parents and campers. In addition to this, the surveys also helps us collect some amazing testimonials about our camp programs that we can use in for the next summer.

3. Develop deeper relationships with your camp families

As we get responses back from each of our surveys, we are reaching out to each family that submitted feedback to thank them for their input and acknowledge that we've heard them. With the responses where parents are not completely happy our team collaborates to resolve the issue at hand as quickly and effectively as possible. Surveys have helped us take a more personal approach with our families. We are reaching out to them more and developing long lasting relationships. Parents are grateful for the responses we give them and we've heard from them that they are more likely to recommend us to a colleague or friend based on our quick and timely responses. Camp is a very personal business, and mid-week surveys provide our team another touch point with parents. As we gather the responses and respond to the families we are also able to identify the sites that are doing amazing work and acknowledge those teams during the week. Our site directors and counselors love hearing the feedback as much as we do! Giving all types of feedback to counsellors  in real time can be invigorating after many weeks of camp and can give the Camp Director insight into problem counsellors.

4. Gather valuable suggestions on how to be better

At The Handwork Studio, we are always striving to be better, do better and create amazing experiences in camp. Our surveys have helped us better understand what is important to parents and their children. It also awards us the opportunity to respond to ideas that parents have suggested. Parents want to be heard. Their investment in our program is an investment in their child, and we want to provide them a place to share their thoughts. Our mid-week surveys are the most ideal avenue for this feedback. At the end of the camp season, we'll take all of the feedback and put it into one document to see where we can continue to improve our program.

5. Identify areas to adapt your staff training for the next year.

Staff training is at the core of how we launch our camp programs each year. While we might think we've covered everything, there might be a few areas where we can spend more time. The feedback from parents helps us better understand how we can tweak our staff training for next year or continue to supply training resources throughout the the summer. The surveys also give us real-life documented examples of parent feedback that we can incorporate into future camp training.

Sending customer feedback surveys early in the week has been a game-changer for our camp. We are much more connected to our parents and are able to resolve any issues in an effective and timely manner. We are collecting real-time feedback while simultaneously ensuring that both the camper and their parents are completely satisfied with their time at our camp!

Do you use summer camp surveys for your day camp? Share your experience with sending camp surveys in the comments below!


[from Travis:   This article comes to us from Megan DiFeo, curriculum & marketing director at The Handwork Studio.  Thanks, Megan!

About The Handwork Studio

The Handwork Studio LLC is a kids' needle arts and fashion studio. Our purpose is to pass down the tradition of teaching practical arts such as knitting, crocheting, hand and machine sewing, embroidery, quilting, fashion and crafts in a fun and relaxed environment. Our staff is comprised of professional artists, instructors and skilled teachers, dedicated to making each student feel special. Headquartered just outside of Philadelphia in Narberth, PA, we operate summer camps in 30 locations in seven states, bringing our brand of needle arts fun to over 3,000 campers every year. Learn more at]

A "Hint" about Camp Surveys from Joanna Warren Smith

Summer Camp Client Input Motivates Good Decision Making

True summer camp review at Pearce Williams Christian Centre

True summer camp review at Pearce Williams Christian Centre

Just this spring, a well-respected camp assured me that it wasn't necessary to do camper and parent surveys 'because it only makes people focus on the bad parts of camp'.

Needless to say, that is not the current thinking of businesses that plan to thrive in a very competitive environment. Certainly retention rates reflect satisfaction levels, but they are not the immediate feedback that can improve your program session after session.

Plan for age-appropriate on-site camper surveys and let parents know that at the end of their child's last session, you will be requesting that they complete a short survey to help you in your 'ongoing quest for excellence' or 'efforts to make the camp experience even better.'

You can also give parents an incentive to complete the survey by a specific date with an entry into a drawing for a free session of camp, a camp store gift certificate or a myriad of other options. Larger incentives usually increase the number of responses.


  • Treat the Camper Survey with Respect.  Set aside a time for the business to be done usually around lunch on the day BEFORE kids are going home.  Have a BRIEF introduction by a respected staff member in a conducive environment for writing.  Tell kids how important their input is and ask questions for which you really want the answers.   Two critical questions ... 'Do you want to come back to camp next year?' and 'What would make camp even better?'. Collect surveys by groups, review immediately and take action.
  • Evaluate the Parent Experience.  Certainly, parents can tell you if they have seen growth in their child's swimming ability, responsibility or social skills; however, they should not be asked to interpret their camper's experience because they will skew the input. Critical questions for parents include ... 'Did the camp experience benefit your child?', 'Do you want your child to return to camp next year?', 'Will you refer us to other parents?' and 'Were we responsive to you during the summer?'.  Allow for only YES or NO answers. 

Scrutinize the survey results, prioritize issues that will improve your program and then market those changes to parents.  They will appreciate the fact that you listened and more important, the action you've taken.


Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email

(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 theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: