You are a Summer Camp, Not a Pack of Gum

Why nurturing prospective families is just as important as getting them to inquire


by Trevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree

I'm not a gum chewer. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good stick of gum if offered. I just don't seek it out. The other day, I was at the grocery store. Just above the self-checkout kiosk were packs of gum. So I bought one. This was likely the first pack of gum I purchased in years.


The reason?


My daughter asked me if I could buy her some gum.


It took all of four seconds to grab it and scan it. When it was all over, I didn't jump for joy, nor was I racked with guilt for buying something I did not really want, and that added no value to my daughter's life.


In that four seconds, I did no research. I didn't read any reviews. I didn't look at the requirements to make the purchase. I did not make any cost comparisons.


On the other side of the coin, the packs of gum did not ask me to fill out a lengthy form to purchase. They did not make me pay more than I currently have in my checking account. They didn't require health records. They didn't request anything from me.


You are a summer camp. You are not a pack of gum.


As a summer camp, you are responsible for parents' two most important things: their child(ren) and their money.


So you better believe they are not going to buy on impulse. They are not going to call you based on a Facebook ad and put down a deposit.


When it comes to finding the right summer experience for their child, parents shop ploddingly with care and conviction.


You can't just say 'hello' and expect your inbox to fill up or your phone to ring. You need to court them, nurture their interest by building value, and finally inviting them to register. It's a process too often, camps to rush. And when the results are not robust, they abandon the strategy and stick it under their chair.


Like an old piece of gum.

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