That Parent Question You Bungle Every Time

"Tell me about your summer camp"

A parent of a summer camp aged child asking questions to pick a summer camp
A parent of a summer camp aged child asking questions to pick a summer camp

You know it's worth having a quick, ready-to-go and unique answer to this perpetual question... but it's hard to know if you get it right.

Start with WHY

In Simon Sinek's TED talk he says one phrase over and over again.  I think it's something that every camp should create a poster of and post all over the winter office:

People Don't Buy What You Do, They Buy WHY You Do It

You've got to work on your pitch/elevator speech/10 second commercial.

Someone WAAAAY smarter than me

once said:

The purpose of your pitch is to engage or intrigue people so they want to hear more.

Make or Break it Time

This is such a critical moment for a camp.  It's our "make a great first impression" point.   You're going to need something smart to say at this point.

But where do we even start?

Chances are high that you have exactly the same activities as at least 10 other camps in your market. How can we give them something to intrigue them to want to hear more?

First we're going to have to dig deep and find out what others think.

How can we find out the honest and unique ways people talk about our camp?

Talk to Your "Karens"

I recommend you create a quick survey to your 50 most connected families, 25 hardcore alums and 25 best staff.  With their help you can focus down on what makes you truly special.

Have you used before? It's a simple online survey app that's free. I like it because, by default, it only shows 1 question at a time.

With a survey like this it will be important to control for the potential bias that one question may put on the preceding question.

My suggestion is to use these questions, in this order, as a way to get a clearer feeling of what words campers, parents, staff and alumni would use.

It will be important to get a large sample -  my goal would be 100 - so you may have to incentivize people to commit to the 20 minutes it will take to fill this out.

A free t-shirt draw MIGHT do it but I doubt it.

In your shoes, I would consider giving away 10 pieces of very special swag (to random people who fill out the survey) and something so big as 1 winner getting 2 weeks of camp to use themselves or give away.

I suggest these Questions: 

  • Describe our camp in one paragraph:
  • Describe our camp in one sentence:
  • Describe our camp in under five words:
  • Describe our camp in one word:
  • Please provide us with 10-15 adjectives that best describe your Camp _______ experience:
  • What feeling do you get at _______ that you don't get anywhere else?
  • What have you learned at _______ that you couldn't learn anywhere else?
  • How have you changed because of _______ ?
  • We are working on coming up with a simple definition (or tagline) for_______ , something that will help us to quickly tell new parents what we are all about. We're looking for a phrase that will only fit_______ - no other [girls/boys/coed/overnight/day camp in our area/faith-based] camp.
  • What sentence or phrase do you think best suits the Camp_______ experience?

Please share with us, in the comments, your camp's elevator pitch.

Blog, MarketingTravis Allison