A long-held strategy among summer camp marketers has been to retain current campers first, and acquire new ones next. I used to feel that way myself, but not anymore.
The fact is, if you run a great camp, you should have no trouble getting lots of referrals
and repeat business from happy families, which means camper retention should take care of itself.
On the other hand, if you don't have a constant stream of new campers every year, let's face it - you're toast. There's just no way to continue operating without loads of new kids each summer.
Camps aren't like restaurants or car dealerships or airlines or pro sports teams or any other business, for that matter, that can rely on keeping customers for life. As camp professionals, we only have a few years at the most before customers move away, try other things, age-out of our programs, or otherwise stop coming to camp for whatever reason.
So even though this thinking flies in the face of traditional marketing strategy, I suggest your marketing emphasis should now be to acquire new campers first, and retain old (current) ones next.
Mine sure is.