Do you remember going to summer camp? It's a formative experience for kids. From learning freely to trying new things, summer camp is when kids start to come into their own. If you're thinking of starting a business and you love kids, starting a summer camp could be the perfect fit for you. There’s no shortage of research one can do about starting a business, but we put together three major tips to keep in mind to learn how to start a summer camp. Looking for more support to jumpstart your camp? Check out our ultimate guide to starting and running a kids camp.
1. Know your state's rules for starting a business
First things first, before starting a business plan or developing your camp's programming, you should read up on your state's rules and regulations. Because camps are licensed at the state level, the laws can vary widely depending on where you plan to start your camp. In some states, day camp is permitted, but not overnight camp. In other states, overnight camps are dependent on the county you live in. These laws will affect even the most fundamental details, like the location of your camp.
Once you have that knowledge base, you can start working on the fun stuff. And by fun stuff...we mean diving deep into learning how to turn your passion into a business.
2. Health & safety
No matter how fun or educational your programming is, parents will be skeptical of any camps that feel unsafe. For many parents, the risks of COVID-19 are still quite prominent, so ensuring any business you open complies with health and safety regulations is important. Review our guide on summer camp safety procedures and camp counselor training to help you get started with this planning.
In addition to complying with all of your state's rules and regulations, you should also be aware of specific risks and have a plan to address them. You'll need to plan beyond everyday problems like allergies, bee stings, and minor scrapes or cuts.
For all these reasons and more, it may make sense for you to consult an expert as you make your safety plans. Former camp administrators will often agree to act as consultants for an hourly fee. It could help a lot in the long run to get some expert feedback.
3. Programming & marketing
Now comes the good stuff - planning what your camp will look like in practice. Do you want kids to have access to skill-based classes, like arts and crafts or woodworking? Or should the focus be on outdoor skills like making a campfire? If you have little ones in your life, it may be worth getting their input to learn what they'd like to see in their dream camp. Once the ideas start flowing, use our guide to help you come up with summer camp lesson plans to stay on track.
To attract registrants to your camp, your marketing should be a solid mix of emphasizing the fun programming and the stringent health and safety rules you've established. A marketing strategy that appeals to both kids and parents can make a big difference in enrollment. As you plan those safety procedures, review our guide on camp counselor training to make sure your staff practices what you preach.
You can start a summer camp!
Starting your own summer camp for kids might seem like a huge project for a small business owner to take on, but it's actually manageable. If you do your research, follow the rules, and consider the kids' safety in conjunction with programming, you should have your camp up and running in no time. Check out how Sawyer can help you run your camp, as well as tips and tricks to optimize your business.