By Andrea Watson, National Director of Outdoor Programs and Properties
You’ve probably been asked a few times – what’s it like for camps now that it’s the “off season”? The dining hall is silent and empty, your camp staff has returned to school or other jobs, and some may think it’s time to take a long winter’s rest before next summer. But don’t be fooled! Now is go-time for marketing your summer camp programs!
What does summer camp marketing look like for Scouting? Well first, it starts by acknowledging that there are several audiences that need specific, unique marketing. This also varies by program type.
For example, our Scouts BSA troop audiences include youth (especially the patrol leaders council), the troop committee, and parents. For Cub Scout packs, parents are absolutely the most important audience, especially Cub Scout moms. As we consider the marketing steps to take, creating separate marketing campaigns for younger youth programs like Cub Scouts versus older Scouts in Scouts BSA and Venturing is important. When setting up your marketing campaigns, here are some things to consider during camp marketing season:
- Communication – maybe even overcommunication is critical. For many Scouts BSA troops, the fall is decision time for next year’s Scout camp. And for those units who may decide later in the Scouting program year, fall is likely when they are listing all of the options that may be available. Look for units who haven’t been to your camp on rotation in a few years. What about troops who missed camp the last couple of years to COVID-19? Break down your communication strategies into these various subsets of the larger audiences we mentioned above. Calls and texts can go a long way to reach out to your units.
- Schedule it out – marketing doesn’t just happen and being intentional is key. What are you doing each week, month and season to promote next summer’s camp programs. Consider adding a variety of touch points on various platforms in your marketing schedule. Once you build it, executing it will be that much easier. Your camp staff may be a great tool to help you build the plan and make it happen too!
- Vary your messaging – Marketing doesn’t just have to be “sign up today”. It can also include “Scout leaders – we saw this neat article about camping and thought you would enjoy it.” Consider adding freebies – everyone loves a good deal and your marketing plan could include drawings for free giveaways just for opening the marketing email.
- Google – Let’s be honest, before most of us do anything we either ask Alexa, Siri or google it. Google your Scout camp and see what comes up. Put on the “hat” of one of your audiences and google from their perspective too. Likely they won’t google your actual camp name; rather, they will google “scout camp”. Take a look at your camp website and ensure its easy to navigate for each of your audiences.
- Finally – Consider hosting an open house! Focus on units who haven’t been to your camp. Perhaps they aren’t aware of all the amazing things happening right in their own backyard. Provide a “taste of summer camp” style experience so every audience has a chance to see what incredible adventures your camp offers.