Do you run a local dance studio? Are you passionate about dancing and want to share that love with your community? Are you planning a dance camp this summer? If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, you probably want to know the key to hosting a summertime dance camp.
You may be competing for student sign-ups with hundreds of other local summer camps, and over 14,000 camps across the United States. How can you make sure that your dance camp outranks other summertime activities and draws in the participants you need?
Consider these 5 prime ideas for hosting a more engaging summer camp:
- Boost enrollment.
- Hire and train good staff.
- Use online liability waivers.
- Inspire community with custom t-shirts.
- Design your own mobile app.
Ready to get started? Let’s jump in.
1. Boost enrollment.
Summer is a great time of year. The sun is shining and students are out of school for a few months. Both kids and their parents are looking for a reason to get out of the house for a while— hence, the continuous popularity of summer camp.
A big part of establishing a successful summer camp starts long before the summer even arrives. You’ll have to get the word out early enough that students’ and parents’ excitement is grown and you have as many participants as possible— after all, the more the merrier!
Here are a few tips to keep your enrollment up year after year:
- Cater to different groups. Chances are, the local kids in your area do not share the same level of knowledge and/or talent when it comes to dancing. You may have a few mini prodigies that have been dancing since birth, and several students who have never danced before in their lives. For a successful summer camp, don’t group all students together, or worse, exclude certain skill levels completely. Decide how to divide students by age and/or skill set and run various dance classes from early beginners to seasoned experts!
- Improve camper retention. It’s almost always a more efficient strategy to retain current consumers than to constantly target new students and families. In fact, a 5% increase in camper retention can result in a 25-95% boost in camp revenue. You’ll want to find campers that return to your dance camp each summer! A great way to encourage retention is to build on learned skills year after year, and allow students to graduate from one class to another the following summer.
- Community outreach. While camper retention is crucial, you’ll see campers age out of the program or inevitably fail to return. This is where effective community outreach comes in! Get the word out about your upcoming summer camp by targeting local schools, churches, and youth programs, connecting with potentially interested families on social media, and using other crucial marketing channels.
With these 3 strategies for increasing dancer enrollment in hand, you’ll have a strong infrastructure in place to attract and manage your participating students.
2. Hire and train good staff.
When it comes to hiring for your summertime dance camp, it is crucial that you create a solid team of employees that share a few key qualities. Recruiting top teachers and counselors is a surefire way to see success in your camp year after year.
Be on the lookout for:
- Skilled dancers. This may seem self-explanatory, but you want to find dancers with a solid background to teach your classes. You don’t want someone who sits off to the side or doesn’t know what they’re talking about! Especially as your classes get more advanced, you’ll need highly qualified dancers to develop lessons and lead courses.
- Skilled teachers. The best dancers may not be the best teachers. Teachers must be able to provide step-by-step guidance, handle class disruptions, and work well with children at the very least. Look for dancers who have prior experience working as an instructor!
- Skilled communicators. Your instructors must also employ strong communication skills. Be sure to keep an open line of communication between students, parents, teachers, and administrators to ensure that everyone is on the same page with registration, schedules, and progression tracking.
Just like the importance of camper retention, counselor or instructor retention is also key! If you find a good group of staff members, try to bring them back for your summer camp year after year. Not only will this provide a consistent basis with your students, but it will also reduce the amount of time you have to spend on training new staff.
3. Use online liability waivers.
As with any event or organization that involves physical activity, your dance camp will likely require a liability waiver to be signed by each student (and their parent). Signing a traditional waiver tends to involve waiting in line to answer a few questions and sign a slip of paper on a clipboard on the first day of class.
However, since the establishment of the E-Sign Act of 2000, there is a new, more efficient choice: digital liability waivers! Digital waivers offer the following benefits to you and your participants:
- Speeds up the registration process. Allow students and their parents to skip the lines by having their paperwork signed ahead of time. Prior to the first day of camp, you can send out a link to your online waiver and encourage families to get their paperwork signed from the convenience of their own home.
- Boosts your studio’s trustworthiness. Parents can be wary about sending their precious children to a summer camp, especially when it involves an activity that carries risk for injury. By utilizing digital liability waivers, you show parents that their kids’ safety is your priority and that you take risks seriously.
- Protects your studio from legal issues. Not only does the establishment of digital waivers ensure that you can easily access any waiver in mere seconds (meaning no more lost waivers!), but they also offer increased security features such as photo capture and encrypted data storage.
Taking advantage of digital waivers is a great way to streamline the boring, yet necessary, logistical processes that are involved in running your dance studio or summer camp. This way, you and your students will have more time to do what they came for: dance!
4. Inspire community with custom t-shirts.
One of the best ways to build a solid sense of community within your summer camp is through custom-ordered t-shirts for your dance camp. As you know, one of the most defining characteristics of a team is their uniform!
Ordering custom-designed t-shirts for your dance camp can offer the following benefits:
- Garnering camp spirit. There’s no better way to get kids excited about summer camp than with a specially designed, exclusive t-shirt. Consider sending out t-shirts ahead of time to increase the buzz surrounding your camp.
- Promoting inclusion. Students don’t want to be worried about whether they have the right dance attire and whether they’re dressed as nicely as the other kids. With camp t-shirts, you can ease that peer pressure when everyone is dressed in the same outfit!
- Differentiating between classes. Although a single design will promote unity among your campers, consider using different color t-shirts to separate students by age or skill level. This can promote team spirit in addition to camp spirit.
You may decide to include the price of a t-shirt in your camp tuition, or you could charge an extra add-on fee as an easy fundraiser. Check out effective fundraising platforms like Bonfire that allow you to design and sell your camp t-shirt with no upfront costs.
As an added bonus, your students can bring their t-shirts home after camp is over, which act as a constant reminder of all the fun they had at your dance camp!
5. Design your own mobile app.
Engage students and their families in the digital sphere through the creation and implementation of a mobile app! Having your own mobile app for your dance studio is one element that can really set you apart— by meeting parents where they already are and simplifying logistical processes.
You can use a mobile app to streamline procedures such as:
- Scheduling: Make it quick and easy for parents to double-check the dates and times of your dance camp so that students arrive on time and ready to dance.
- Finances: Parents are able to pay directly from their phone, which can save you a lot of time and trouble in tracking down late and missing payments.
- Communication: Whether you want to send out class-wide notifications or send a message to a particular parent, parent communication has never been easier.
Although creating a mobile app might seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. You’ll just need to find the right tools for the job! Programs like DanceStudio-Pro’s dance studio app service allow you to easily design and personalize an app specific to your studio.
When you integrate these 5 key ideas into your dance camp strategy, you’ll see benefits like increased efficiency, boosted enrollment, and a safer, happier camp community for all! With these added benefits and more, you’ll be able to strengthen your studio’s operations, and simplify tasks for students, parents, and team members alike.
Click here to see how to use dance studio software to free up time from administrative work and allow more opportunities for involvement. Best of luck!
Author: Tiffany Bellah
Tiffany has been involved in the dance world at many levels – as a dancer, a dance mom, a studio manager, a virtual assistant to studio owners and now as the Customer Service Manager for Dance Studio Pro. She is the mother of 4 and lives in Southern California where she enjoys working remotely to support the users of the World's Best Dance Studio Software.
A decade ago, when her girls wanted to dance competitively she went to the studio owner to offer her skills in administration and knack for setting up and managing apps that would make that Studio Owner's life easier.
After researching all the options she discovered DSP and became an expert user – fast forward to the present, she has been with the company for a year and a half and she is thrilled to be a part of the constant improvements in technology that help us all connect around the art of dance.