Archive for November, 2014

What Makes a Great Camp Fair & Expo?

Posted on November 24, 2014 by Jeff Bradshaw

Camp Fairs and Expos have become popular vehicles for both day and overnight camps to reach a broad market.

Why do we have them?

Our Kids Media Camp Fair 2011 - 1

Courtesy Our Kids Media

  • Collectively, we can put a professional face on camping and recreation programs for children and youth. Families can “one stop shop” for their children’s summer program needs.
  • Working together, service-providers are able to move from a competitive to a cooperative approach with families. In the bigger picture, it’s not as important that a child attends a specific program but rather enjoys and benefits from a program that is challenging and a good fit for the child. To this end, Camp Fairs and Expos have become remarkable venues for referrals and cooperation between service providers who work to find the very best fit for a child’s interests and abilities.

What etiquette has evolved?

  • Essentially, an environment of support and respect for other programs has developed. This manifests itself in not offering giveaways to families (i.e.: free passes, hats, draws for free weeks, souvenir items etc…) and keeping any artificial noise to a minimum (recorded music, if used at all, shouldn’t be detrimental to those having conversations in neighbouring booths).

What should I bring?

  • Be sure to bring plenty of material for distribution.
  • If you would like to send further information to families that have an interest or include them in future mailings, bring along a clipboard with a blank mailing list form that they can fill-in.
  • If you have electrical needs (laptop, DVD player etc…) include extension cords.
  • Invite some enthusiastic senior camp staff to assist.

What else should I consider?

Our Kids Media Camp Fair 2011 - 2

Courtesy Our Kids Media

  • Dress comfortably but appropriately … jeans are not suitable.
  • Wear a name tag with your name and title in large print.
  • Camp Fair times are relatively short and it’s a good idea to be prepared to stand and/or walk around at your booth rather than sitting.
  • Be sure to arrive with enough time to set-up and, be prepared to remain until closing time.Resist chatting with colleagues. Focus all your attention on the public.

Parks Canada encourages outdoor experience for kids through Canada’s Coolest School Trip Contest

Posted on November 20, 2014 by CCA Communications Committee

sscc-ccst_e.ashxThe My Parks Pass Canada program is entirely free and offers all grade 8 (secondary 2 in Quebec) students everywhere in Canada free entry to Parks Canada places with their class and with their families for a year. The goal of our program is to encourage youth to experience Parks Canada places first hand, whether in the classroom or in person, creating lasting relationships between young Canadians and Canada’s treasured places. Teachers are asked to order their My Parks Passes online at / anytime throughout the school year, and we will mail out passes to schools in March/April. The program also offers free online resources for teachers, and the Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest. Parks Canada is currently promoting this contest and it’s amazing prizes.

Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest

What – Grade 8/secondary 2 classes across the country are asked to submit a 1 minute video for a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip for their entire class, including the teacher and chaperones, to the stunning La Mauricie National Park and to the historic sites of Québec City. Students will canoe the breathtaking waters of La Mauricie National Park, hike to thundering waterfalls located deep inside the park and glimpse the many species of wildlife that call this park home. The students will also travel back in time to live the life of a soldier at Lévis Forts National Historic Site, dine as members of high society at the exclusive Québec Garrison Club National Historic Site and explore the rich history of the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico.

How – To enter the contest, grade 8/secondary 2 classes must pick a Parks Canada place that they think is extraordinary and create a one-minute video that demonstrates why their chosen place is significant to Canadians.

When – Video entries must be submitted to no later than 4:59pm on February 23rd, 2015. Voting will take place during the month of March, and the winners are announced in April. The grand prize trip will take place during the first week of June.

Other Prizes – There are 8 other prizes to be won, including 3 runner-up VIP field trips to a local Parks Canada place, and 5 honourable mention prize packages. In addition, every teacher who’s class submits an entry will receive a free Parks Canada family Discovery Pass (value of $136).

Last year’s grand prize winners travelled from École Antoine-Roy in Gaspé, Québec to Victoria, British Columbia to experience Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. In 2013, a class from Caronport Elementary School in Saskatchewan won a trip to Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the Fortress of Louisbourg. Finally, in 2012, Montague Intermediate School in PEI won a trip to Banff National Park.

More details on the contest can be found at or on our social media pages:

Our YouTube video:

Our Social Media:

5 Trends For the Next 5 Years of Summer Camp Management

Posted on November 17, 2014 by Travis Allison

ouareau-archeryAnybody who has been a camp director for more than 10 minutes knows this: camp is changing quickly. Looking at the pace of change since I started directing summer camp in 1994, I think we are in store for more change at an even faster rate. We are at a critical point for the summer camp industry.

For camps to be equipped to deal with change, directors must force themselves to think beyond the daily struggles of their jobs and consider what is going on in the rest of the business world. Consider this: for those camp staff entering college in the fall of 2015, many of their job titles do not yet exist. In this changing environment, we must be willing to transform ourselves and our camps.

As we navigate our changing world, I hope you’ll consider the following five concepts that I believe are essential to running a successful summer camp over the next five years.

Become a Visual Storyteller

Creating an emotional story about your camp must involve visuals. Think back to how, just this morning, you quickly scrolled through your Newsfeed on Facebook. Think about the stories and posts that captured your attention. I guarantee you that a vast majority of them involved some sort of video or an engaging photo.

Summer camp is such an emotion-driven consumer purchase because it involves children and parents. We need to become great at telling emotional stories through photos and videos.

My challenge to you: every time you sit down to type out a communication or message, try to figure out how you can use photos, images, or video to replace your text.

This skill will become essential to telling the story of the transformations that happened because of summer camp.

Get Comfortable with Technology

Technology is intimidating for everyone. Even those of us who are comfortable being surrounded by and experimenting with new technologies can be quickly overwhelmed. That’s why I think we must, as responsible business managers, figure out a way to keep on top of technology. Even an exercise as simple as the Hour of Code™ can help us keep learning.

While I strongly believe that summer camp itself provides an important opportunity for kids to get away from the stresses of technology, I also know that the willingness to use new tech is essential for camp professionals.

Make It About Them
We have fallen into a trap.

When we talk about our camps, on the web or in person, we tend to talk about ourselves. We try to recruit families — many who don’t understand summer camp at all — by telling them about our camper-to-staff ratio or how we are a “traditional” camp. This style of discussion assumes that parents have a baseline knowledge of how camp works. Many of them don’t.

If we are to reach more families without prior camp experience, then we must talk about camp in completely different ways. One important method to grab their attention is to stop talking about ourselves. Instead, parents need to see themselves in the stories we tell. Can you imagine how much camp would stand out from all of the other summer activities if your website focused, in part, on what life is like for today’s families? For example, imagine supplementing that photo of three campers hugging each other with an image of a stressed-out mom attempting to talk to her kids while their faces are buried in their phones.

By including this type of imagery on your website, it demonstrates to today’s families that you understand their lives. This will allow you to craft the story of the transformation that will happen to their family because of summer camp.

Make Bold Statements

Because we spend our days creating safe and welcoming environments for other people’s kids, we tend to describe our amazing product in very boring terms.

I love the quote by Simon Sinek who says that “people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. What Sinek is saying is that people need to understand the very foundational ideas upon which your camp is based. They need to understand your why.

I believe that your why needs to be bold so that it stands out among the many competing summertime options for families.

Our goal with the CampHacker network is to create an industry-wide message so strong that parents will feel they are failing their children if they don’t send them to camp. That is our bold statement.

I know that the words “failing their children” will be alienating to some camp leaders. By design, bold statements are unapologetic, direct, and evoke strong emotion. It is safe to say that those camp professionals who do not connect with the CampHacker message may not want to work with us. Those who do are willing to wear their passions on their sleeves.

Learn to Relax

Implementing these concepts can be strenuous and tiring, and that’s why my fifth concept is about balance. To maintain the energy required to run successful camps and transform lives, we need to take the time to consciously relax. It’s essential to our ability to do this job.

I think that each person must find his or her own way to relax. For me, it is early morning trail walks with the dog or taking 100 meditative breaths per day. We need to put as much intentionality into finding balance as we do improving the lives of our campers and staff.

There are many important changes coming to the camp industry over the next five years, and I intend to be along for the ride. I hope we’re in it together.