Ultimate Start a Summer Camp Business Guide

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5 min read

Summertime is all about fun and frolic! Kids are out of school and it’s the long break that every child looks forward too. But this long break can create havoc for a parent’s work schedule. As a result, summer camps are becoming extremely popular among working parents. Summer camp is all about having fun, while also learning in a highly stimulating environment. Because not all summer camps are created equal, we’ve created a list of things you need to start a summer camp off on the right foot.

When first looking to start a summer camp, the most important thing to remember is that a summer camp is not the same as school. Many camps make their summer camp activities and schedules so tight and rigid that children soon lose interest. In a summer camp, the children must have more freedom; freedom to play, have fun, be creative and express themselves. You are not running a school; you want the kids to look forward to coming back for more! However, this does not mean you relax on the need for proper care and structure. Just remember to give kids some leeway.

Start a Summer Camp: Find a Location

Find a suitable location that can be converted into a summer camp. The location must be easily accessible and preferably close to basic amenities. The best locations are near highly populated residential areas. Finding a school campus that does not currently offer a summer camp is your best bet. Remember to less convenient it is for parents to get there, the less likely they will enroll.

Start a Summer Camp: Pick a theme

Summer camps are built around a theme and you will need to pick an interesting and unique theme too. Remember that the theme must be interesting, attractive and also stimulating. You need to make your camp stand out from the rest. Parents should say “Wow! I wish I had that as a kid”, and children should say “This looks awesome! Can I go!!”.

Start a Summer Camp: Create a Schedule

Planning the various activities for your summer camp requires much thought and research. You need to have a combination of entertaining as well as learning based activities. Take the opportunity to provide kids with a learning experience they would not otherwise get during the school year. Divide the activities into different days and times. Then make a camp schedule that is interesting from a child’s perspective. You should also divide according to age groups of the children.

The more campers you recruit, the more free days you’ll have, but you also need to consider how many kids you can handle. So take a tip from the experts: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ratio of one adult to no more than ten 6- to 8-year-olds.

Start a Summer Camp: Camp Policies

Camp policies are most often forgotten but are also one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. As a camp owner or Director, your task is to make sure that the kids are having a blast in a fun and safe way. Part of that means you need to develop policies with when things happen. The longer your run your camp the more policies you’ll end up adding. Plainly speaking, the more your run a camp the more issues will arise. If you do your job well these issues will be infrequent, but you want to have policies in place for when they do occur. Consider the following policies when you start a summer camp.

-Behavior Policy

-Food Policy

-Bullying Policy

Refund Policy

-Cell phone / electronic device policy

-Cancellation Policy

-Pickup / Drop-off Policy

Start a Summer Camp: Registration Software

It may sound obvious but pick good camp registration software. Remember that your goal is to run an awesome camp, and not become a tech wizard. So if you come across software that requires hours of implementation and training… run! Camp software will help you record important data and also have a systematic approach that will benefit both you and the participants.

Start a Summer Camp: Camp Staff

Finding and hiring great camp staff is one of the most important parts of running a summer camp. It can be very time consuming, so you need to have a streamlined process for not only recruiting camp staff but also hiring them. This will take time and effort, and you may find yourself making adjustments along the way. But the time and effort will pay off ten-fold.

Start a Summer Camp: Camp Insurance

Whether you own your camp location or renting space, you will need to acquire insurance. Just like car insurance, camp insurance help protect you financially. Insurance does not replace the need for quality oversight of your facilities, staff, and campers.  Consider the following insurance coverage types (consult with an insurance professional).

-Property: percentage of actual or replacement value

-Comprehensive general liability

-Worker compensation: owner/officer options

-Health insurance for the owner, staff, and campers

-Personal property

Vehicle liability

-Certificate of insurance from the camp owner if you plan to rent or lease

Start a Summer Camp: Marketing

Just because you want to start a summer camp, it does not mean people will automatically sign up. Marketing is essential to the success of your camp, just like any other business or service. Nothing sells without proper marketing! There is a variety of tools and methods to help you market your summer camp. Use the power of social media platforms and also harness the power of traditional marketing tools like flyers and banners.

When you want to start a summer camp remember to make it unique, focus on concepts like curiosity, inspiration, discovery and excitement. These are the ideas that will generate the best framework for a summer camp. Don’t just focus on how to start a summer camp, rather focus on how to create an environment that will compel people to sign-up.