Best Practice: Wrapping Up Summer Programs

Best practice: wrapping up summer programs

While this summer’s triumphs and challenges are still fresh, now is the perfect time to identify opportunities to make administering next year’s summer programs even easier.

Collect Feedback

The best way to learn about camp operations is to seek honest feedback from everyone involved. Debrief your year-round staff and volunteers about their perspectives on the programs’ strengths, weaknesses and any administrative bottlenecks they encountered. If possible, include summer camp staff in the evaluation, as their insights can be valuable and demonstrating that you value their contributions can increase the likelihood that they’ll return next summer. Gathering feedback from camp families is also important, especially because their decisions about where to send their children next summer will likely be influenced by their experiences this year.

In addition to identifying opportunities for improvement, a systematic debrief provides the basis for a new or updated FAQ that can help ensure an even better experience for next year’s camps.

Review Registration History to Inform Next Year’s Prices

A good time to revisit free structures is right after summer programs end. Beyond overall attendance and revenue, important data points may include how quickly each session filled relative to its start date; whether registrations spiked as a result of a communications campaign; what (if any) registration discounts were used; and more. If your programs aren’t consistently full, you may decide to change your prices or offer different kinds of discounts (such as and multiple session discounts). If your programs aren’t full until close to the registration deadline, you might consider early registration discounts and/or fees for late registration (if such tactics are appropriate for your programs) as well as increasing promotional activities like advertising or presence at informational camp fairs.

After reviewing season-wide data, it can be tempting to create a complicated pricing scheme with several different options. Unfortunately, this well-meaning strategy can backfire by confusing families and making registration and payment needlessly complex. Strive to develop a pricing plan that addresses the greatest number of issues and can be summarized easily in just a few sentences.

Share Camp Information Year-Round

Ideally, kids leave your summer programs begging their parents to send them back next year. Keep them interested with a coordinated communications campaign which may include social media and emails as well as an always-up-to-date web page of information about next year’s programs including themes, program and registration dates and anything else that will keep your camps first and foremost in the hearts and minds of the groups and families you serve.

While this summer’s triumphs and challenges are still fresh, now is the perfect time to identify opportunities to make administering next year’s summer programs even easier.

Collect Feedback

The best way to learn about camp operations is to seek honest feedback from everyone involved. Debrief your year-round staff and volunteers about their perspectives on the programs’ strengths, weaknesses and any administrative bottlenecks they encountered. If possible, include summer camp staff in the evaluation, as their insights can be valuable and demonstrating that you value their contributions can increase the likelihood that they’ll return next summer. Gathering feedback from camp families is also important, especially because their decisions about where to send their children next summer will likely be influenced by their experiences this year.

In addition to identifying opportunities for improvement, a systematic debrief provides the basis for a new or updated FAQ that can help ensure an even better experience for next year’s camps.

Review Registration History to Inform Next Year’s Prices

A good time to revisit free structures is right after summer programs end. Beyond overall attendance and revenue, important data points may include how quickly each session filled relative to its start date; whether registrations spiked as a result of a communications campaign; what (if any) registration discounts were used; and more. If your programs aren’t consistently full, you may decide to change your prices or offer different kinds of discounts (such as and multiple session discounts). If your programs aren’t full until close to the registration deadline, you might consider early registration discounts and/or fees for late registration (if such tactics are appropriate for your programs) as well as increasing promotional activities like advertising or presence at informational camp fairs.

After reviewing season-wide data, it can be tempting to create a complicated pricing scheme with several different options. Unfortunately, this well-meaning strategy can backfire by confusing families and making registration and payment needlessly complex. Strive to develop a pricing plan that addresses the greatest number of issues and can be summarized easily in just a few sentences.

Share Camp Information Year-Round

Ideally, kids leave your summer programs begging their parents to send them back next year. Keep them interested with a coordinated communications campaign which may include social media and emails as well as an always-up-to-date web page of information about next year’s programs including themes, program and registration dates and anything else that will keep your camps first and foremost in the hearts and minds of the groups and families you serve.

Elissa Miller, M.Ed. is Doubleknot’s Communications Director.  As the former development director for a regional nonprofit, she’s passionate about helping nonprofits and youth-serving organizations effectively harness new technologies to streamline operations and support their missions. 

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