Marketing and Promotion

For your camp, or any youth program, word of mouth is your strongest tool for marketing your program. In order to gain traction via word of mouth you have to prove you are running an excellent program. When you get to the point where your program is filling to capacity well before the registration deadlines, and you have long waitlists to get in, you know you have a strong program. If you are not at that point yet, you may need to find creative ways to get the word out about your program, without spending a lot of money.

The first thing you should do is create a marketing plan. Here are different items you should consider in your marketing plan:

  1. Outline goals of your plan and how you plan to accomplish them.
  1. Profile your customers and outline your target market
  1. Identify needs of your target market and how you can meet those needs
  1. Identify marketing channels that will reach your target market
  1. Identify any competition or like programs in your area. Create profiles on them and what they offer compared to your offerings.
  1. Create an outline, timeline or calendar of proposed marketing campaigns annually
  1. Set a budget
  1. Report and evaluate outcomes

Here are several marketing channels that include ways to help you market and promote your program to the community on a local level:

Social Media: Be active on social media to advertise your program, specifically Facebook. During camp use it to post pictures and highlights from the program. Engage with parents and potential participants. This is a great way to show those that are not in your program what you are doing within your program. If you have a marketing budget you can also boost posts or run paid ads to a targeted audience.

Website: If you do not have a website, go set one up immediately. If you work for a larger organization, get with your administration to set up a page if you do not have one already. Once you get a website for your programs keep it updated! It is frustrating to finally find your program online and then see that there is no current information posted.

Media: Build relationships with local media outlets and keep them informed regularly. Send press releases to promote your program and registrations, the benefits of your programs, and highlight any accomplishments or benchmarks.

Email: Get your participants emails and use them. Not only will email communication help you promote your program during the off season, it will help you communicate with participants while you are in season. Be active with your email list, keep it updated, and always keep your parents in the loop before, during, and after each season.

Start a Newsletter: Newsletters can be a great way to engage with your participants and community on a regular basis both in season and out of season. During the camp season use a camp newsletter to recap the week of activities and a way to send updates and reminders. Come up with engaging content out of season to promote upcoming registrations and all the great things your programs provide to the community.

Text: There are many programs out there you can use to communicate information via text to your participants. If you can, use it! Texts are great not only for promotion, but also when something time sensitive comes up like a last minute game cancellation.

Apps: There are apps out there that can help you manage and organize your program, such as our Camp Source App. You can also use them to connect parents, engage, market, promote, and improve communication.

Flyers: All programs should have a program flyer. Post it on the website, find places around town with display boards, get permission to distribute in your local schools, etc. Make sure your flyer has all the camps information on it such as the “who, what, where, when, and why”.

Signs and Banners: Anywhere you can get permission in your town to put a sign or banner up, it is worth the visibility. If you are not working for a City or County, make sure to check with your local sign rules before you try to put anything up around town.

Partnerships: Partner with other local civic groups in your area to cross promote each other’s programs. Groups such as scouts, schools, churches, etc. have youth programs and are more than happy to distribute your information, especially if you can do so with their activities as well. Create shared community calendars to help reach more potential participants.

Community Calendars: Most local newspapers, local news websites, chamber of commerce, HOA’s, and other local community civic organizations will have community calendars either online or at their location. Search around for these and get your information on as many of them as you can. They are free so even if only a few people see it there, it’s worth it!

Community Advocates: Make sure to recruit advocates in your community such as active volunteers and community leaders to be a part of your program. These are your biggest cheerleaders outside your organization and can help you build the strong word of mouth you want to bring in lots of participants. If you want to take it a step further you could place all your advocates on an advisory board to oversee certain aspects of the program while continuing to be your biggest cheerleaders.

Attend Events: Attend any community events you can that will allow you to set up a table to promote your programs. You can get information face to face to a large amount of people in a short amount of time to help promote your programs.

Run an Event: Use your facility to run an event to get people in the door. Whether it is a fundraising event for your program or just an open house, getting future participants in the door can sometimes be the hardest part. Once you get them in, make sure to collect contact information and have them leave with all your program’s information so you can follow up with them soon after.

Use Third Party Websites: There are directory websites out there that you can post information on your camp for free. Take advantage of as many of these as you can find. If you have a marketing budget you can also target websites and run paid advertising.

You can never put enough information out there on your programs. Get creative, have a plan, and build a network of advocates to generate word of mouth and take your marketing and promotion to the next level!


The Summer Camp Source as seen on