Educator Resources

Common challenges for kids camp owners | Rosters, waitlists, and more

There are so many balls to juggle when you are running a kids camp. Successful camp owners need to stay organized, offer flexibility to parents, and get the information that they need to keep each child safe. Without a camp management software, camp owners and counselors can become easily overwhelmed and miss something important.

Our goal at Sawyer is to help camps run more smoothly. To help accomplish this goal, we outlined some of the common challenges for kids camp owners as well as simple solutions that can help you spend less time on administrative tasks and more time doing what you love. Are you ready to make this summer the best one yet? For even more comprehensive support on starting and running a kids camp, check out our ultimate guide.

Common challenges for kids camp owners

Staying organized

Organization is an incredibly essential part of successfully running a kids camp. If you are not organized, you run the risk of losing important information, making mistakes, and duplicating efforts. Managing registration, rosters, and waitlists in an organized fashion can save you hours of time that can be better spent creating curricula, writing lesson plans, and more. 

Here are some of the common challenges camp owners face when it comes to staying organized.

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Taking registrations online

According to Pew Research, more than half (55%) of millennials capable of giving birth have done so, which means millennials are taking over as parents. Millennials are digital natives who are used to using the Internet to make purchases. 

There are many benefits to taking registrations online:

  • Millennial parents expect this behavior and will default to choosing camps that offer online registrations because they are more convenient.
  • According to our 2022 Children’s Activity Trend Report, where we analyzed 7.2 million activity bookings to understand payment and booking trends, 60% of parents book camp and other activities for their children on a mobile device. If you do not offer mobile-compatible online booking, you will miss out on these sales!
  • Likewise, we also found that 43% of parents book camp and other activities for their children outside of the traditional 9am to 5pm business hours. Camps that rely on phone calls and emails for bookings rather than accepting bookings 24/7 online will likely lose these customers.

Managing rosters

Rosters are one of the most important parts of staying organized and running your camp successfully. Camp staff and counselors use rosters to keep track of camper names, pronouns, birthdays, medical information and allergies, approved guardians for pickup, attendance, and so much more. Camps who do not use a registration and management system often rely on manually writing down the information in a spreadsheet or on paper. Unfortunately, then they run the risk of misplacing or incorrectly collecting this essential information. 

Sawyer makes it easier for camp owners by automatically generating rosters based on the information of the camper. This reduces user error and keeps important information safe. It also gives staff members the ability to mark attendance right on the roster. Likewise, staff members can email all of the people on the roster at the same time to share updates as needed.

Managing waitlists

When camps rely on manual data entry rather than a system, they might not even be able to offer a waitlist because it is one more thing to track. However, waitlists are a great way to make sure your camps are always full and analyze which programs resonate most with your audience. If you want to offer a waitlist for your camp, we recommend utilizing a camp management system like Sawyer.

Photo of running a kids camp

Offering flexibility for parents

If you are planning to run a camp for kids, don’t limit yourself to just the summer. Camps can be offered during school breaks and days off. You can increase your annual revenue and see stronger customer retention. Likewise, offering flexibility by making big ticket items like summer camp and even winter break camps purchasable by week or even day can help families make the decision to buy.

Allowing transfers

Another way to be flexible with families is by allowing transfers. Camp is often purchased 2-3 months in advance, so the need to make a transfer might occur when it gets closer to the date. Camp management software makes transfers an easy process. Camp owners can allow parents to choose whether they want their child to transfer into a different camp program or request a refund. With a few clicks, the camper’s booking has been updated, saving you and your staff time!

Asking the right questions to families

We always recommend getting the information you need about your campers as early in the process as possible. During the registration process, you should ask families for everything that you need to make sure their child is safe and happy during your camp program.

Here are some examples of the types of questions you should ask families when their child is registering for camp:

  • Full name, preferred name, and pronouns
  • Birthday and age
  • Guardian names and contact information
  • Names and contact information of guardians cleared for pickup
  • Medical and allergy information
  • Other important information that might be necessary for camp staff to know like social anxiety, bathroom issues, etc
  • Safety waivers and other documents that need to be signed
  • Evaluation questions for level of experience with certain subjects
  • T-shirt size

Learn more about custom forms and how they can help you run your camp more smoothly.

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If you are ready to start a kids camp and run it successfully, the team at Sawyer is here to support you! We have the best camp registration and management software, which helps hundreds of camps across the country save time on admin so they can spend more time changing the lives of their campers. 

With our suite of tools, like signup forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, various payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless registration on any device, Sawyer saves camp owners 28 hours per month. Learn how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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