If you could get every kid to come back to camp every year, your camp would be at full capacity sooner rather than later, your marketing costs would be nothing and you probably wouldn't be reading this summer camp marketing blog. Unfortunately, a 100% camper retention rate isn't possible. Kids stop coming for any number of reasons. They age-out, their families move, they outgrow your program, they sign up for other camps instead, whatever.
Your goal for every camper is
that the kid leaves your camp with happy memories and their parents
think highly of you. Even if THEIR kid doesn't attend your camp anymore,
they can still be a strong referral source for you and might even
return again later, so it's important to keep the lines of communication
Here is a sample letter I send out to families
after it seems likely they're moving on from my program (feel free to
customize this to your own situation):
"Dear (NAME OF FAMILY):
I heard today that you have decided to attend another
camp this year. In an effort to improve our program, I'd appreciate any
feedback you can give about your experience with us. Your comments
(positive or negative) will help us learn, grow and continue to provide
safe and fun summer experiences to our campers. I have included a
comment card and self-addressed stamped envelope for this purpose. You
can also fill out our feedback form online at
www.example.com/camper-feedback if that is more convenient for you.
Regardless of the reason you're leaving us, please know that I
"Circumstances change and kids
do, too. We have enjoyed having your family with us these past (however
many) years, and I just want you to know that if you find yourself
unsatisfied with your child's new camp, you are always welcome to
return. We can reactivate your child's enrollment immediately and will
be happy to do so. We've had other campers leave our program over the
years, only to return in future summers stating they were simply unable
to find the same happy experiences anywhere else.
more thing to note. I am quite familiar with many other existing camps.
If you simply need a second opinion or would like advice on other
programs, just let me know and I'd be glad to help. We are also happy to
consult with your child's next camp director if necessary to ensure
your child receives an outstanding camp experience at their new program.
"Again, we will miss you and wish your family all the best.
"(YOUR NAME/CAMP NAME)"