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 open.
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 completely understand.
“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.
“One 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)”