Hosting birthday parties at camp can enhance camper retention, introduce and recruit potential new campers, develop another off-season revenue stream and enhance your marketing efforts.
Those camps that do not offer birthday parties in the off-season, and are able to staff them, should start. Those who do offer birthday parties should start promoting them a little more. Here are a few reasons why:
Enhancing Camper Retention
You have hundreds of kids that come through your property every summer that are completely in love with your camp. They’ve memorized your songs and skits, they have picture of your horses in their bedroom, and they are already nagging their parents to register them for next summer. These kids would hit the roof with excitement if they could come during the school year to celebrate their birthday.
They already want to come and it’s an easy pre-planned event parents would appreciate. The best part is that you are continuing to actively engage with your camper families during the off season. You could send your camper families a letter the month before their camper’s birthday reminding them of your birthday party package, too. Now you’ve connected with them twice, where you wouldn’t have at all.
Recruiting NEW Campers
Your most enthusiastic campers have already told all their friends about their camp experience this past summer. Now they are able to bring their friends to camp. They are your best marketing people, telling their stories, sharing memories, bragging about your staff and how great the pancakes are. Now they are bringing your target market right to your front door for a sample. Regardless of what activities you offer, these potential new campers will experience a condensed version of your camp programming with your number one advocate as their guide.
Have a stack of brochures by the door when their parents come to pick them up.
Additional Off-Season Revenue Stream
Offering birthday parties adds another opportunity to make a little money during the slower seasons. Parents are spending more and more on birthday party programs from other organizations and community facilities so your camp might as well be an option too. Plus, you’ll be able to offer educational, recreational, outdoor focused programming that could give you a lead on the competition. Ideas could include:
- Ropes course birthday parties offering activities on your rock wall or challenge course.
- Horseback riding parties offering a trail ride or beginner riding lesson
- Outdoor adventures offering nature exploration, wide games, survival skills, lean-to building and an outdoor cook out.
- Arts and crafts themed birthday parties with led activities indoors.
- Games galore birthday parties with staff led games in your gym or large meeting area.
- Pool parties are always a hit. Plan a few staff led games to keep kids engaged.
- Drama birthday parties could include improvisation games, skits or making small-group videos.
More Birthday Party Marketing Tips
Consider creating your very own camp branded birthday invitations to provide for host families. This way every kid they invite will take home a piece of marketing material for your camp. It will sit on their counter or be put on the fridge for weeks. Include your website and maybe a line or two about your summer camp programming.
You can also provide a camp-themed loot bag for the part attendees. Put in some swag like a camp hat, sunglasses, magnets, some candy and a camp brochure and registration form.
Remember to provide the host family with waiver forms for every attendee. Not only is it necessary for liability reasons, you can also include a request for contact information so you can build a contact list of potential camper families to send your camp information to.
Don't forget the cake and candles!