How I Made $50K In Summer Camp: Part I

Summer Camp and Student Retention

The summer months are often a make or break time for music studios.  Student dropout rates can skyrocket as kids set sail to sleep away camp and family vacation.  I’ve tried every strategy in the book to keep my school at capacity in the summer. There seems to be no escape from the summer drop off.

In 2003 my music school was just seven months old when 30% of my students vanished in June.  I was new to the game and I didn’t anticipate this sudden and dramatic drop in enrollment.  It was a lean summer but I survived.  I knew if I had another summer like 2003 I might have to close shop.  I had two options; discover a secret remedy for summer drops or launch a summer camp.  The following summer I generated $20k  in summer camp sales.  I doubled that number over the course of 4 years.  In this blog series, I’ll show you how to run and operate a successful summer camp.

Each day of camp needs to be unique.  If camp days feel too much the same; camp gets boring.  Boring is a camps worse enemy.

The Fun Factor

Camp has to be fun in order to succeed.  It has to be fun all of the time.  The moment kids suspect teaching is going down, camp no longer looks like camp.  It can look like summer school in disguise.  Summer school is boring.  It’s punishment in the eyes of a ten-year-old.  It’s not enough to swap out the word “school” with “camp”.  You have to truly transform your studio into a camp.


Building a Tribe

Camp is the promise of good times, friends and memories.  A good camp creates a little oasis in space and time where kids are king.  A good camp is a celebration where campers unite as a tribe.  Perhaps this is why so many summer camps are named after Native American tribes.  Once you join the tribe you are part of the family. All kids want to fit in; to belong; to have their own tribe.


Moments and Memories

Think back to your favorite summer camp memories.  These memories are marked by moments.  Stand out moments like a water balloon fight, ice cream Friday or camp Olympics.  Team building and stand out moments builds unity. Being deliberate in your effort to create moments will elevate your camp experience and plant the seeds of nostalgia. Nostalgia is what motivates a camper to return summer after summer.


3 Ingredients for Summer Camp Success

Each day of camp needs to be unique.  If camp days feel too much the same; camp gets boring.  Boredom is a camps worse enemy. All of your camp activities should fall into one of three categories. If they don’t your customers will perceive your camp as either summer school or daycare.

  1. Team building
  2. Friendship forming
  3. Memorable moments


What Will Be Covered in Part II

  1. How to implement the 3 Ingredients for summer camp success
  2. Identify your demographic
  3. Summer mementos
  4. How to structure your camp day
  5. How to utilize your space for camp
  6. 6-month marketing strategy


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