How I Made $50K in Summer Camp: Part II

My summer camp is based on rock bands but all these concepts discussed in this blog can apply to any music camp.  Swap out the word “rock band” with the word “group”.  You should have no problem integrating these ideas into your own camp.  You will create a triple threat if your camp puts on an-end-of-camp “concert” (not recital) It creates an amazing experience for kids, fills parents with pride and is a major marketing opportunity for you.


Summer Camp Math

I charge $325 for a 1-week camp and $615 for a 2-week camp.  A single 2-week camper generates the same amount of revenue as 5 students taking monthly lessons.  My studio can accommodate 18 campers per week.  I also run 2-weeks of Kidzrock camp off-site in conjunction with my studio camp.  It’s a lot to manage but both camps are tightly systematized and can run on auto-pilot.


Is Camp Worth the Effort

Camp has the potential to bring in thousands of dollars in additional revenue to your studio.  Camp might not be worth the effort if your studio experiences a minimal drop off in the summer.  If this sounds like you I’d stop reading this blog and focus on your summer marketing.  I easily lose over 30% of my students in the summer 4-.week long sleepaway camps and family vacations pose a serious threat.  My business and lifestyle would look dramatically different without summer camp.  I don’t think my studio would still be standing without it.

A single 2-week camper generates the same amount of revenue as 5 students taking monthly lessons.

5 Benefits To Camp

  • Limited commitment for new customers
  • Appeals to a larger demographic
  • Allows you to try out new programs to a captive audience
  • A marketing tool to build enrollment
  • Added revenue


One vs Two Week Camps

I’ve experimented with both 1-week and 2-week camps.  In 2009 I had a slight drop off in camp sales after running a summer of 2-week camps.  I tried switching to a 1-week model in 2010, hoping it would attract more campers.  Instead, it attracted the same amount of campers who were now paying less for this shorter camp.  I now only offer 2-week camps with two 1-week camps in August.


How Many Camp Sessions to Run

I run 11-weeks of summer camp.  In December I research school end-of-year closings and fall start dates.   If a school district is out, I’m on for camp.


Identify Your Demographic

I’ve had the most success with ages 5-12 with summer camp.  Sleepaway camp enters the equation for kids ages 9 and up.  Younger kids are also still trying to figure which activities they connect with.  Once kids enter high school the summer job takes the place of summer camp.


Welcome Beginners

The more welcoming your camp is to beginners the bigger it can be.  Camp is a great way for the curious to try out music.  I would recommend focusing just on beginners if your space is limiting the size of your camp.



All kids want to take a bit of camp home with them; a reminder of their friends and memories.  My camp hands out camp t-shirts and concert posters.  The concert poster features each camp band with their photo.  Most of those posters get taped up on campers bedroom walls.  This allows me to get my message out to every kid that goes to the campers house.  I’ve seen my own son’s friends ask “Is that poster real?” Yes, and you can be in the band next summer!


Daily Schedule

Below is what my typical camp day looks like.  The key to my success has been my workshops.  Band practice is always fun but the day needs variety. My workshops are music games and challenges that are either all-camp or small group activities.

9:00-9:15 am-Camp director addresses camp
9:15-10:30 Band practice
10:30-10:50-Workshop I
11:00-11::20-Workshop II
11:20-11:50-Physical activity (game)
11:20-11:50-Small group lessons
12:30-1:-Movie (lessons)
1:00-1:20 Clean
1:20-2:15 Band practice

*throughout the day we pull groups of 2-3 kids for small group lessons on every instrument. This is a big selling point for our camp.


Learn From My Mistakes  

When I first started camp I made the following mistakes

  • I made camp too academic. Kids just wanted fun.
  • I tried to impress parents with the quality of learning.  Parents were just like their kids; they valued fun over learning
  • I used the same workshops in every camp.  This meant repeat campers were having repeat experiences.


Camp Blog

Creating a daily camp blog of the activities is a great way to drive campers to your website and boost your SEO effort.  Campers will share with others on social media driving more even more traffic to your website.


Market with Photos

A blend of creativity and camp photos will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Photos and video allow parents to take their child’s daily temperature and experience a sense of pride.  Parents will go social media crazy with this pic. I always make a suggestion “We encourage you to share your camp photos and videos on social media. It will allow your child to inspire another kid”.  Parents nod with approval when I say that.


Summer Camp Marketing Timeline

October: Google “summer camp fair (city/town name)” find the best camp fairs and register. Ask around about which fairs are the best.

November: Create a general outline of your camp. Write up sales copy describing your camp

  • Why your camp is unique
  • 1-2 sentence description of camp
  • Call to action with a promotion

December: Google “how to create a trade show booth”.   Begin to assemble a simple, yet attractive booth.   I put musical instruments on stands to catch the eyes of kids and let them strum on an unplugged electric guitar.

January: Research free or inexpensive online camp listings.  (watch your budget.  Save your money for facebook ads)

Announce an early enrollment discount.  Set an expiration date for the promotion to create urgency.

February: Roll out summer camp facebook ads with early enrollment promotion with a deadline.  Dial in your Google AdWords

March: Free week of camp drawing

April: Announce winner of drawing.  Offer all other entrees consolation prize.

May: Announce limited openings in camp.  Post actual openings in an email.

June: Run promo for specific sessions.  With a limited offer


At Camp Marketing

  • Send a short personalized email to each camp parent during camp.  “Just wanted to let you know I sat in to watch Claires band today.  She has made so much progress on guitar this week.  She seems to really be having a good time”
  • Relationship building with parents: Chat up parents at drop off and pick up. Refer to them by their first name.

After Camp Marketing

  • After camp thank you email to parents. Soft sales pitch
  • Mail home postcards to campers from camp staff
  • Email a promotion 1-week after camp
  • Phone effort: Call campers not enrolled in school


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