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Will They Come Back? Reintroducing Your Camp to the Community

December 2021

Will they come back? This is the question on the minds of many camp directors after one and sometimes two years off or running virtual. Some kids may have aged out and others may have found other programs to attend. The challenge is finding new ways to market your camp but also to make sure you are covering all of the basic techniques we know will work! 

Strategy and Goals:

Whenever you are creating a marketing piece, ask yourself: Am I trying to attract new customers or reach out to existing customers? Most likely your focus will be on both, because in the end the goal is to increase or maintain enrollment. Although strategies will depend on the size of your camp program the basic techniques are the same. Print marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing are all the most approachable ways to reintroduce your camp and can all be done on a budget. 

This is part one in a three part series on marketing to ensure your enrollment in 2022 is off the charts! The first article will focus on the importance of print marketing in a digital world. Future articles will include topics such as effective digital marketing/ guerilla marketing, and marketing on a budget.

Print Marketing:

In a society that mostly consumes digitally, print media may seem outdated, but it actually has an essential role in how summer camps market their programs. In a survey made by the Direct Marketing Association, 60% said that printed direct mail actually has a higher recall response and makes a lasting impression! A study done by Black Rocket demonstrated that 30% of enrollments came from the print brochure. Numerous camp and lifelong learning associations such as ACA and the NRPA all continue to prove that programs who cut their print marketing see a decrease in enrollment.

Depending on the goal of your campaign, it’s important to consider purchasing a direct mailing list, especially if you’re trying to reach out to new potential customers. On average, one record can cost anywhere between $0.03 cents and $0.20 cents.  However, before purchasing a list you may want to do some quick research on the school populations in surrounding counties and conduct a zip code analysis of the prior years registrations. This will help you focus the list in the most cost effective way.

If you’re sending mail to existing customers, you may not need to purchase a list at all. But it’s important to keep in mind that sending mail can still be costly based on a few factors:

  • Design costs: If you pay for online templates or spend money to hire designers, that can hike up the cost of sending direct mail. It can be anywhere from $20 to $300 depending on the template and the bulk price. By creating your campaigns yourself using Microsoft or Canva, you can save money on design costs. There are great and cheap resources out there such as 99 designs or ask your program providers for images and design examples.
  • Printing and material costs: The size of paper, the amount of pages, the amount of color, and the weight all determine the cost of printing. Being mindful of materials and what’s worth using is important. Instead of a 30 page brochure can you send 4 page one with titles and links to your website.
  • Distribution costs: Actually sending the mail to your customers is what takes up a lot of the cost. However, direct mailing companies typically offer better rates rather than DIY mailing. 


Thinking about all of the expenses that go into sending direct mail can be pretty overwhelming. It’s important to know the amount of money you have to spend, and what you can do with that money. 

Below, we put together a hypothetical spending chart that outlines how you could budget for different forms of print. Keep in mind that these numbers are averages based on research, and can vary depending on the kind of service you use to execute your campaign! For example, your design and copywriting costs may be a lot cheaper if you decide to create them in-house. This just gives you a general idea of the price ranges for direct mail advertising. 

Your Budget: $1,000 $4,000 $8,000
Item: 1,000 Postcards 5,000 Brochures 8,000 Catalogs 
Design/Copywriting: $100 $100 $300
Mailing List: $150 ($0.15 per record) $750 ($0.15 per record) $1,200 ($0.15 per record)
Printing: $100 ($0.10 per card) $350 ($0.07 per brochure) $960 ($0.12 per catalog)
Mailing: $350 ($0.35 per card) $2,700 ($0.54 per brochure) $4,800 ($0.60 per catalog)
Total: Approx: $650 Approx: $3,900 Approx: $7,160

With all of these costs, it’s important to keep in mind that at the end of the day it’s probably worth it. Direct mail advertisements tend to have a better response rate than digital marketing because it’s a physical item that people can read and flip through!

Going into this next year and summer of 2022, a lot of camps are going to have to reevaluate their marketing strategies. Whether you’re just starting and need to build a customer foundation, or you need to expand your audience to potential customers, it’s important to find different ways to reintroduce your camp to the public. Come back to our page for more soon on digital marketing, guerilla marketing, and marketing on a budget!