Whether you’re running a day camp, a week long camp, or sleepaway camp, your first interaction with parents and children will most likely be during the drop-off. This moment may seem insignificant, but it’s a great opportunity to build excitement for campers, while putting parents at ease about the time away from their children.
There’s no question about it, camp is an exciting time — but initially can be filled with nerves and anxiety for both parents and children. When you put effort into making drop-off a memorable moment, you’ll be creating an environment that feels comfortable and confident for the adventure ahead. Looking for more support to jumpstart your camp? Check out our ultimate guide to starting and running a kids camp.
Here are five tips to help.
1. Drop off is a party! Here’s how to celebrate.
When families drive around the corner, or walk up to your door, what will they see first? Sure, you could keep your entrance the way it always is...but it’s camp season! It’s time to spruce it up! Adding a special sign about camp, balloons, and music are all ways to make drop-off feel like a red carpet event.
A positive experience filled with fun from the start builds trust for parents, and gets children excited. While it may seem minor, rolling out the red carpet (figuratively speaking) can lead to repeat business and great memories. So get the music loud, the counselor outdoors and excited, and get ready for a fun time.
2. It’s time to meet! Introduce parents to counselors.
Speaking of counselors, they’re an integral part of the camp experience. Children will most likely build bonds with them, and remember moments with them for life. Anyone who went to a camp as a child will most likely remember an influential counselor — they always felt like the cool older sibling. When it comes to parents, there’s no doubt they’ll forget the counselor's names in a few minutes. But hey, that’s natural, parents have a lot going on.
At drop-off, you can have your counselors display fun facts about them, or other tidbits of information that’s fun to share. Any opportunity to make parents feel more comfortable with the counselors their children will be around should be considered!
3. Don’t forget to write letters!
Regardless of the type of camp you’re running, campers love receiving mail. Getting a letter doesn’t need to happen solely at sleepaway camp. While it might be difficult to handle deliveries from the post office during a day camp or week long camp, you can play the role of mailman and handle the letter drops directly!
As children are checking in or doing routine health checks, give parents the chance to fill out letters or postcards. These fun and sweet notes can be distributed later in the week by counselors. If you’re running a longer camp, letters are a great way for children to feel less homesick.
4. Showcase your camp plan upfront
While families will have an idea of what to expect with your camp when they sign up, it’s always nice to highlight the activities you have planned in the days or weeks ahead. Families like transparency, especially when it comes to their children’s camp experience. Whether you add a bulletin board with the daily breakdown of activities, or highlighting the “risky” outdoor activities where adult supervision will be in place, clear communication goes a long way.
5. Highlight safety precautions.
While the lockdown restrictions and enhanced safety measures for COVID-19 have mostly subsided, there’s still risk around us. The CDC has clear guidelines for camps, and there’s no doubt you’re taking their advice to heart. While your camp is most likely prepared with all the cleaning and safety equipment necessary to keep your campers safe, it can be helpful to broadcast this to the families you’ll be interacting with at drop-off. Sanitizing stations, cleaning equipment, and stickers or signage that encourage social distancing are all methods to show parents that you’re not cutting any corners when it comes to keeping campers safe.
Ready for a memorable drop-off?
Remember to take time to talk with your team and counselors about how you can make drop-off memorable. While these ideas should help, you’re the biggest pro when it comes to deciding on what kind of drop-off experiences would be best for your camp. Spend time brainstorming with counselors, and thinking about activities or setups that work best for your location.