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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reading this Blog Might Not Be Enough

Sometimes we'll put the same or simliar post on this blog, our facebook page and twitter. Other times different marketing tips and information will appear in only only one or two of those places. Make sure your read this blog, follow us on twitter, become a fan on Facebook (and even friend me on facebook) so you don't miss anything.

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Your Next Big Marketing Idea Might Come from a Different Industry

A few weeks ago I blogged that stealing marketing ideas from other industries could mean a promotional windfall for your camp. A few days ago, Dan Kennedy, one of my favorite all-time marketers, wrote about this same marketing strategy in Check it out.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to Think "Outside the Box"

You can find a car wash anywhere. Car washes are popular businesses, and visible. But how come there's no "motorcycle washes?" I bet that'd be a great new business idea someone could try. And it's a good example of how to think "outside the box." You can use this same approach at camp to improve your marketing effectiveness. For example, lots of kids go to day camp, lots of kids go overnight camp, but how many kids do you know go to day camp at night? Not many, I'll bet. See what I mean?

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How to Follow Up with Customers and Prospects After Your Initial Contact

How often do parents call you on the phone and say, "I'm ready to sign up for camp right now"?

Maybe it happens from time to time. But more likely it takes a series of contacts with people before they're ready to register for camp. This is why customer follow-up is so important.

Since people sign up for camp when THEY'RE ready, not necessarily when YOU want them to, you need a follow-up strategy that gets people to register for camp sooner rather than later. Here's what I suggest.

Keep a list of EVERY prospect you speak with. At the very least collect their email addresses, phone numbers and physical addresses. I can't tell you how many times I've seen camp directors have promising first contacts with people, only to lose the enrollment because they failed to get the required follow-up information.

However long you wait before following up is up to you. I follow up with my mine prospects every seven to 10 days. Any longer than that, people start to forget who the hell you are. You also give your competitors too large a window to swoop in and "steal" the enrollment.

There's lots of ways you can follow up with people. Call, email or send them a note. But don't be pushy unless you wanna come off like a jerk. Don't be like, "Hey, why aren't you ready to sign up for camp yet?"

When you follow up with someone, you might start with a soft sell, then increase your tone as you go along. Be subtle, but at the same time you MUST motivate the the prospect to register for camp as soon as possible, otherwise they'll put it off as long as possible. So here's what you might do.

You might start out by calling them on the phone and saying, "Hi Jennifer, it's Eric from Aloha Beach Camp. You know what, I just wanted to follow up to make sure you got the brochure you requested and see if I could answer any questions for you."

Now we all know what Jennifer's gonna do. She's gonna thank you for calling, but she's also gonna make up some lame excuse like, "Well, we're very interested in your camp, but we've haven't even had a chance to look at your brochure yet. In fact it's sitting right here on my desk! I just need a little more time to look it over and speak with my husband..."

Blah, blah, blah. You know the drill. Whatever Jennifer can do to delay trading her hard-earned money for camp, she's gonna do for sure. So here's what you say back.

You say, "Oh, I understand. I know it's a big decision. Maybe we can touch base again in another week or so. Just real quickly though, before we say goodbye, the other reason I called is because our Early Bird discount is expiring soon, and I thought you'd be interested in saving a little money..."

Or here's something else you could say:

"Oh, I understand. I know it's a big decision. Maybe we can touch base again in another week or so. Just real quickly though, before we say goodbye, the other reason I'm calling is because we just got a bunch of enrollments today in your son's age group and now we only have a few spots left. I just felt compelled to let you know while you still had the opportunity to get in..."

Granted, the second example is a harder sell than the first. You need to decide for yourself what you're comfortable doing.) But in either case, you've got Jennifer on the ropes...she's almost hooked, and here's why.

She's either gonna be fearful, guilty or both if she doesn't sign up NOW. Why?

Because 1) she'll have to pay full price for camp (which NOBODY wants to do), and/or 2) her kid might miss out on the great camp experience you're providing (which she'll kick herself about later).

Fear and guilt are HUGE sales motivators. And please don't mistake "motivate" for "manipulate." You're not trying to manipulate anyone into anything; you don't want anyone attending your camp if they're not ready or don't want to go.

But for the most part, your goal should ALWAYS be to motivate people to sign up, and to sign up NOW, otherwise they'll put if off as long as possible if you don't give them a push.

You know what? I just reread this post and said to myself, "Man, wouldn't it be sweet if we could just say, "OK everyone, it's time to sign up for camp now," and then all our enrollment spots would be filled? LOL! If only it were that easy...

But of course marketing's not that easy. It's hard. So I hope you'll take time to develop a consistent and effective customer follow-up strategy that combines relationship-building and sales skills directed at motivating people to sign up for camp sooner rather than later.

As someone responsible for marketing a summer camp, that's your #1 job.

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What are the best youth marketing websites?

Two of the better youth marketing sites on the Internet:

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The Internet's Best Website?

The Internet's a WILD place, a frickin jungle. It's hard to find good websites sometimes. But one I recommend you visit often is If it's not the absolute best site on the net, it's the absolute best social media site. I'd bookmark it if I were you.

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How to Create Your Own Camp Videos

Why go broke paying a professional "videographer" thousands of bucks to make your camp video? Create your own instead at Animoto or OneTrueMedia. It's cheap, easy, and it'll look like gold.

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Four Common Sense Social Media Tips

Here's an interesting article from web2journal: 4 Common Sense Media Tips. Pay close attention to points 2 and 3 which reinforce what I keep saying, namely that making consistent, relevant blog posts and posting videos of interest to your camp prospect audience can help your google ranking and make you famous.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

How to Market to Moms on Facebook

Everything you need to know about marketing to Moms on facebook.

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Shame on CBS

CBS accepts Tim Tebow's anti-abortion ad for the super bowl, but rejects a gay-dating site's bid to advertise too. Shame on you, CBS

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More moms than ever are using social networks

Moms are using social networks more than ever.

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Use Twitter to Build Relationships, Not Sell Your Stuff

Twitter, like all social media, is about relationship building. Your tweets should be funny, entertaining, and comprised of content people want to know about. Twitter is NOT about selling or promoting your stuff...not usually, anyway. My suggestion is, use twitter to post compelling content and build relationships 98% of the time, then sneak in your promotional message the other 2%.

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Is Your Blog Embedded in Your Camp's Website, or Does it Stand Alone?

Whether you embed your blog into your main website or keep it separate is a personal choice. Whatever you prefer, go ahead and do. My feeling is to keep them separate. This gives your blog its own identity. And you'll probably get better treatment from the search engines because the Internet loves new content and, theoretically, you're updating your blog with new content much more often than your main website.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Add Your Camp to Camp While it's Still Free

Pretty soon Camp Coupons is gonna start charging money to add coupons to the site. If you're a camp director, add your camp today while it's still free!

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Free Advertising for Minnesota Summer Camps

If you run a camp in Minnesota, get free advertising for it now.

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How to Handle Angry Parents

If you're like me, customer service is a big part of your camp's marketing strategy. But even though we try to exceed our customer's expectations, sometimes we fall short. An occasional upset parent, unfortunately, is part of camp life.

Play your cards right, and an angry customer can be a blessing in disguise. At least they've taken the time to express their concerns. Most pissed off customers will never speak up; they'll just tell their friends about the poor experience they had with you and sign up with your competitor instead.

It's hard to take, especially if someone's flying off the handle. But when a displeased customer voices a complaint, they're in essence sharing with you a way to improve your camp. You can use this situation as a starting point to reestablish a long-term relationship with them, win back a potentially valuable customer, and gain valuable feedback so you're able to make whatever improvements are necessary to ensure other families don't get upset about the same thing in the future.

There's lots of ways to handle upset parents. The following 4-step process works best for me:

  1. Let the angry parent vent/express their dissatisfaction;
  2. Make sure they know you understand they're upset ("I can tell we didn't meet your expectations. I'm very sorry about that...");
  3. Ask them what you can do to set the situation right ("What can we do to make this better for you?"); and finally
  4. Restate your understanding of the problem, and offer them something of value for their trouble. ("I'm sorry again this happened. I promise we'll do better in future. For now, I just want to reiterate how badly I feel for your trouble, so how about a free day of camp on us?")

Typically this approach works like a charm. Last summer, I remember this one mom was really pissed because her kid kept coming home sunburn from Aloha Beach Camp. Never mind the fact he was 14, more than capable of putting on his own sunscreen, and the only 14-year-old at camp who ever got REMOTELY sunburned.

But in her mind, the kid's mom thought our staff should've been done better. She wanted us to physically apply the kid's sunscreen for him at least 5 times a day.

Irrational? Maybe.

But to her, an important thing.

So I took the steps outlined above to calmed her down. We made sure the kid stopped getting sunburned. And then she was happy as a clam. (Not just that, the kid's coming back to camp again this summer with 6 other friends the mom referred...Can't beat that!)

So anyway, like I said, there's more than one way to skin a cat. So here's a few resources to check out when you get a minute. And feel free to share your own stories and experiences about dealing with angry parents at camp. I'm sure others would love to hear them! :)

Business Know-How's 10 Powerful Steps to Diffuse Angry Customers's Guide to Managing Angry Customers
WikiAnswers How to Deal with Angry Customers
BusinessWeek's Guide to Dealing with Angry Customers
Seth Godin's Blog Post on How to Deal with an Angry Customer

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The Power of a Great Headline

When you write ads, blog posts, or any kind of copy, the headline is the most important part. Thing is, 80% of the people who see your ad will read the headline. But only 20% will continue reading the rest of your ad. To increase that 20%, your headline needs to be a whopper.

In my experience, some of the best headlines:

  • Ask questions (How Much Money Would You Like to Save this Summer?")
  • Start with "How To" (How to Save Money at Summer Camp")
  • Include dates ("Offer Ends March 1")
  • Use numbered lists ("Top 7 Ways to Pick a Summer Camp")

Here's a link to the top 100 headlines ever written. See if you can't adopt a few to your camp marketing copy.

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Do You Have a Mailbox?

Damn, every time I hear someone say, "traditional marketing is dead," or when I read an article that says, "as we move away from traditional marketing...", I confess I shake my head and laugh. Traditional marketing is NOT dead, and will NEVER die. Consider this: Not everyone has email. Not everyone has a twitter account, Not everyone's online. Not everyone's on facebook, and not everyone has a computer. But EVERYONE has a mailbox! That's why traditional marketing, and direct mail especially, will never go away. In fact, when used correctly, direct mail is a VERY powerful marketing tool camp directors would be wise to embrace.

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Get Ready for Google's New Social Search

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Use Color in You Camp's Marketing Materials

From your camp's website to advertisements to brochures and dvd's, use color as much as possible. You'll get a much higher response rate (up to 80%) with color compared to black and white. If nothing else, your logo should be in color, but try your best to make everything else colorful too.

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Follow Score on Twitter

Do yourself a favor and follow SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) on twitter. These guys are LOADED with fantastic experience and great tips about how to run and market and organization from top to bottom.

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Quick Tip: How and When to Post to Facebook

Posting to Facebook in the middle of the week (Tues, Wed, Thurs) will be more well-received than posts on Monday or Friday. And, if you're trying to get people to click links, avoid posting such links Friday, Saturday or Sunday cuz you're unlikely to get the click-thru rate you're looking for. Post your links mid-week instead.

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How to Sell Like Billy Mays

Remember that great pitchman Billy Mays ... the guy on TV infomercials who could sell sand to a sheik? Here's a picture to help remind you:

As you might recall this guy was one FANTASTIC salesman. Most camp directors I know hate selling. But you gotta be a salesman (or saleswoman) in this day and age if you're really gonna compete. (If you're a good marketer, you'll get your share of word of mouth referrals and all, but nobody's gonna do all your selling for you...except you.)

I came across this article tonight and thought I'd share it with you. It focuses mainly on selling products, but you can easily adapt it to selling summer camp services with little effort.

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Don't forget to sign up for

Camp marketing season's about to blow up. If you want more campers, don't forget to add your camp to camp It's free, so why not?

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Why camper retention is SO important to your camp's marketing program and budget

Would you rather sell 50 things to 50 people, or 50 things to 5 people? Obvious answer, right? And that's EXACTLY why it's easier and more cost effective to keep the campers you already have, rather than trying to get tons of new ones every year.

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How to get your camp to the top of Google faster

Get your camp's website to the top of Google faster. Check out google's search engine optimization starter guide:

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What are teens doing online?

Don't miss yahoo's advertising blog where they're focusing on teen trends and what teens are doing online

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to Never Have Writer's Block for Your Blog Again

Do you ever get "writer's block" when thinking of what to say on your blog? Here's a tip: Just take bits and pieces of content already on your camp's main website, change the words a little, then use that as your blog post. Easy!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Direct Mail Tip... use a BIG font!

Direct mail tip: When you address an envelope, use the biggest font possible. People get an emotional charge out of seeing their name in print, even if it's only a subconscious one.

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"Green" Camps will Emerge from the Recession as Consumer Favorites

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know how important "green" products are services are to businesses and consumers. All other things being equal, if a family is deciding between one camp or the other, the camp who shows a bigger environmental commitment could win the enrollment.

Important fact to take away from this: "Green" is HUGE, especially among kids! "Green" is one thing that's never been affected by the recession, and when the economy finally comes back, the eco-friendly camps (or at least those who convince prospects they're eco-friendly) will see nice rewards.

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Things to Consider When Marketing to Kids Online

Good article here from econsultancy about marketing to kids online.

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How to Post Pictures to Twitter, Myspace and Facebook all at Once

There's lots of ways you can post pictures to twitter. But if you use other social networking services like MySpace and Facebook, learn about yfrog where you can post your photos to all three services at once.

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How to set up automated twitter messages

When you get a new follower on Twitter, sometimes you might wanna send them a quick "thank you" message or just introduce yourself. That's fine, but I would NOT use this opportunity to try to sell them anything. Instead, just say a quick, "thanks for the follow, look forward to connecting further" or something like that.

Did you know you can AUTOMATE this function in twitter? This way you don't need spend time writing and sending DMs (direct messages) every time you get a new follower. Visit this website to set up your automated DM replies on twitter today.

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Not Enough Twitter Followers? Here's 10 Reasons Why

Top 10 Reasons why people don't follow you on twitter.

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Twitter Usernames: Why only 15 Characters?

Twitter limits your username to 15 characters primarily so others have more space to "retweet" your posts.

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All About Twitter

Enamored with Twitter? Everyone is. Check back throughout the day because today's blog posts will focus on it. (I'm changing my account soon, but for now you can follow me there at and

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Storytelling Marketing Video

We just posted about "storytelling marketing." Here's an interesting video to go along with it.

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How to market your camp with stories

Have you ever heard the term, "storytelling marketing?" Not many people are familiar with the concept or, if they are, may not know how to use it to their advantage.

Storytelling marketing is just what it sounds like: Incorporating stories into your marketing messages. Not stories as in "lies." Stories as in real, honest-to-goodness storytelling -- sorta like your grandpa used to tell you about when he was a kid, or how your mom shared stories with you about when she was young.

Marketing with stories takes your customer service and social marketing efforts to a whole new level. It humanizes your camp, and it helps you connect and engage more deeply with your customers and prospects on an emotional level -- through stories. And as you probably already know, when you can reach a prospect emotionally, you've got a pretty good shot at making them a permanent customer.

Here's a blog post about storytelling marketing and how you can use it to reach any market. The post also links to various other resources about storytelling marketing and examples of how others use it. Enjoy.

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80 Ways for Camp Dirctors to Use Twitter

If you couldn't tell by now, I consider myself a small business owner as much a camp director. Here's an article on 80 ways you can use twitter as a small business owner. This 80 point checklist applies to camp directors, too :)

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to make a custom Facebook page for your camp

If you have a facebook fan page for your camp, you might want to dress it up a little. You might want to add more customization than what a general facebook page offers.

I'm doing mine right now. It's a work in progress and won't be done for a while, but check it out here when you can. If you need tips on how to do it, let me know.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about Google and more...

Check out Google's channel on youtube.

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How to Build Your Camp's Brand Through Blog and Forum Comments

You work hard to get folks to come to your website or read your blog. But people aren't always gonna seek you out. To make the most of your social marketing agenda and build your camp's brand, it's often up to you to initiate relationships.

Find 3 or 4 blogs or message boards related to kids, summer, camp, parenting, teens or whatever. Then, participate in their online communities. Leave relevant comments and ask important questions. Engaging with other participants online is an excellent way to build relationships, extend your camp's brand and establish yourself as an expert.

Comment areas on blogs and message boards often allow HTML. If there's a subtle natural way to incorporate your website address, by all means do so. But don't run from site to site posting your camp's url or blog address on every forum you can find. That's spamming, and a fast way to ruin the solid reputation you're trying to build.

If you're adding value to the communities you participate in, the natural outcome will be more meaningful connections and engagement with other. And that, in turn, can lead to more campers.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seach Engine Keyword Tip

We've mentioned before that your website content should contain relevant keywords people are searching on. One way to improve your search ranking is to avoid "research oriented" content/keywords in favor of "action-oriented" ones. A keyword phrase like “summer camps" will most likely appeal to people doing general research on summer camps. But a specific keyword phrase or website content such as “Summer sports camp for girls ages 6-11 in Las Vegas" is gonna bring you a lot more people ready to take action, that is, ready to sign up for camp.

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8 Ways to Ruin Your Social Media Strategy


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Sometimes 1 is better than 100

Sometimes weeks go by without any feedback from readers of this blog, then boom, I'll hear from lots of people at once. Today I got three emails from camp directors who each asked generally the same thing: What's the BEST way to make social media marketing work for me (us)?

Every situation's unique, just like every camp's unique. But if you're asking me to make a universal suggestion, it'd be this: don't be a "friend whore" on facebook, and don't spend your time trying to get as many followers as possible on twitter. The sheer number of friends, followers and fans you have is MUCH less important than how meaningful and relevant your connections are.

If I were you, I'd focus on establishing a smaller network of meaningful connections with influential people than trying to establish a huge network of friends, followers and fans you barely know.

I'd rather have just one person in my social network who will refer their friends and others they know to my camp than 100 people I wouldn't recognize if I bumped into them tomorrow.

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Cell phone use at camp is just fine with me

Most camp directors discourage kids from bringing cell phones to camp. If you're one of them, it's gonna get harder, not easier, for you to control this situation.

Even worse, your "no cell phones at camp" policy might be pissing off your customers.

Cell phone activity among kids is SKYROCKETING, not just because more and more parents are buying cell phones for their kids, but because cell phone use has become one of the primary ways kids and parents communicate with each other.

Check out some of these findings from the recent Marketing to Mom's Coalition survey:

  • Mobile devices account for the top two ways mothers communicate with their kids under 18
  • Moms and their school-age kids on their cell phones over 5 times per week 
  • Moms and their school-age kids text each other over 3 times per week

What does this mean for camp directors? Cover your ears if you don't want to hear this, but many kids and parents already despise your policy of not letting them speak to each other while the kid's at camp.

And you're also contending with powerful marketing companies whose sole mission is to sell products and services designed to bring people closer together, not apart.

So, why fight it?

I'll bet you can even find ways to incorporate cell phone use or text message time into the camp day. That's what we're doing at Aloha Beach Camp, anyway.

Even though we'll still recommend kids leave their cell phones home, we're not naive enough to think they won't bring them anyway. But if our families have the urge to communicate with each other, we won't stand in their way.

Will you?

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Top 5 Online Marketing Trends for 2010

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Market your camp with free online flyers and classifed ads

Posting online flyers and classified ads is a great way to get free exposure for your camp. Try, and I've used them all with nice results. Make sure you include pictures and links back to your camp's website when creating your flyers and ads, and you might even find yourself at the top of Google within minutes. Seriously.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

How Many Youtube Videos Are Seen Each Day?

Did you know Youtube gets over 1 BILLION views every day. That's a mind-boggling number. And the very reason why you MUST get your camp videos on youtube right away.
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