Summer camps offer parents a valuable service, allowing them to register their kids in high-quality programming with adult supervision. Activities at school summer camps range depending on the school and resources available. The wider variety of staff you recruit (coaches, teachers, etc) the wider range of camps you can offer. If your school or booster club wants to start a summer camp, take a look at these important steps you’ll need to take as you get started.
Determine a Realistic Target Audience
The first steps you’ll take to start a summer camp involve a bit of research. Some important questions to consider (and answer):
How many children can your facilities hold?
Yes, in theory you have a whole school to work with. But realistically, you might only have access to several classrooms, several fields and a field house, or similar spaces. This will depend a lot on whether or not the camp you start is athletically-based or more generally themed.
How many staff members would be able to help host the camp?
A gentle poll around teachers and coaches can help you determine if there are interested professionals willing and able to participate in the camps. This cannot and should not be a true interest request – you don’t have a camp yet!! But a light poll can help you figure out if you have the staff to make a camp happen.
Will you host a sports camp, or a general activities and education/recreation camp?
This question will partially be answered by the staff interest poll. But, it can also be answered by leaders in the school administration. The athletic director will let you know if he or she would like to see a summer camp for particular sports. Likewise, teachers or department heads can express interest in a performing arts camp, or a science camp.
When could a camp or several camps take place?
This is a tricky question to answer. A good starting place might be asking the administration for dates over the summer that are already blocked by things like construction, repairs, teacher workshops, or other events that would a camp impossible or inconvenient.
Approach the School Administration with a Plan
The reason that you did all that research ahead of time is to be able to approach the administration with some of the logistics out of the way. You’ll be able to answer the who, what, when, where, and why:
- Who: about how many kids and who can supervise them
- What: what kinds of camps to consider offering
- When: potential dates that line up with free space and good staff scheduling
- Where: which areas of the school might be required
- Why: specific needs that your summer camp will fulfill, like athletic training, academic training, and high-quality child supervision over the summer
Determine the Costs Required
A summer camp won’t run on its own: depending on what the school can help with, you should expect to cover costs for utilities, staff, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.
By figuring out the costs, you can then make some educated decisions about how much will be required to charge for the summer camp. There are several ways to approach registration fees:
- Are you trying to simply cover the costs of the camp, and need to make sure to break even?
- Will the camps serve as a fundraiser for the booster club, or a specific athletic program?
Lock Down the Legal Details
Schools and associated organizations need to be careful and thorough when hosting extracurricular events with kids, for liability and safety reasons. Your school should already have clear liability language for field trips and other events, so you should incorporate that language into your camp’s waiver as well.
As far as the staff that will run the camp, you need to be sure that all of them are certified and fit to work with children. Chances are, the majority of staff you’ll have will be teachers or coaches who work at the school and have been previously vetted.
But, if you choose to or need to bring in other professionals from the community, be sure to review their qualifications prior to the start of the camp.
Additionally, the school should already have a set of emergency procedures in place in case of an emergency. For the duration of the summer camp, you need to be sure that you have the staff or resources available to act on an emergency (such as having certified medical personnel involved at the camp, or ready to respond).
Allergic reactions, injuries, and accidents can and do happen, and you need to be prepared to handle any situation to ensure the safety of the campers.
Market and Sell Your Summer Camp
If you’ve reached this point, it means you have full authorization to host the camp! (If you’ve reached this point and don’t have full authorization yet, PAUSE and get that confirmed before continuing).
To market your summer camp to the school community, you’ll need to use a lot of strategies similar to those you would use for a big event.
Social media, email, flyers, word-of-mouth: there are a number of ways to get the word out about your event. Especially if the camp is themed (for a particular sport or academic subject), have coaches and teachers spread the word for you.
Nowadays, it is more important than ever to offer various options for payment to your summer camp. If your booster club can work it out for the business office to accept cash and checks, that’s fine. But, it is much easier for parents to register and pay from home if you can accept credit cards.
By accepting credit card payments (and offering online registration), parents and community members can sign up at their convenience, pay at their convenience, and the school business office simply receives a check in the mail. StateChamps offers registration options like this all the time: feel free to visit our Booster Club Information page to see if your school or summer camp could use our services.