In addition to a list of names and contact information that you cull the day of the event, we will send you a spreadsheet of contact information about everyone who attended all the fairs that you attend. This information is great for your database. You can send postcards and invite prospective campers to visit your camp. The lists are coded to indicate parents only looking for day camp. If you are a sleep-away camp, wait a couple of years and then send out a postcard or brochure, it just might be the impetus to get the family thinking about a more independent experience for their child.
First, look presentable. Just because your camp is located in a wooded area in the mountains doesn't mean you have to look like you have been living without the amenities of modern life. Take a shower, get a haircut, iron your shirt, press your pants, and brush your teeth! It's fine to wear your camp's logo attire, but make sure it is clean and fresh. Second, get out from behind the table! Stand in front of your table and SMILE! You need to greet people as they come by; a simple "hello" with a bright smile will work wonders. So many times we see camp directors or representatives of the camps who sit behind the table reading a book or eating lunch. These people then probably proclaim that the camp fair was not very successful. Bring two representatives with you to help the day of the fair, that way everyone gets a lunch break in the director's lounge. Third, don't overwhelm the parents. Speak in a soft tone. The parents are checking you out as a possible role-model for their child. You want to make a connection but you don't want to come on too strong. Many camp directors will have little giveaways on their table for the kids to help them remember the camp director with whom they spoke.
Parents need to be exposed to the variety of offerings that a resident camp is able to provide. If parents have never attended sleep-away camp, their only knowledge is what they have seen on TV or the movies. Your job is to “plant the seed” that an away experience should be down the road for their child. Tell them about your camp, pass on a DVD, have a friendly conversation. The parents will remember you. Many camp directors who have been attending our fairs for years will tell of phone calls they receive from parents. When questioning the parents about how they found out about their camp, they stated that “a few years ago we attended a camp fair….”
Most camps bring a banner that they lay across the tablecloth provided you over a 6-foot table. Some camp directors set up flannel boards with pictures of their camp while others have a silent Power Point presentation on their lap-top computer. Many camp directors have free-standing full-color screens that advertise their camp set up behind their table. On the table there are photo albums, sample articles of their camp’s clothing and a clipboard on which parents can register to find out more about your camp. There are also preliminary brochures on the table, and a reserve behind the scenes of more extensive brochures and DVD’s for distribution to your warmest leads. The key is to make your display look professional. Spend a few dollars and have some signs ed or purchase a nice display board. Oaktag posters and markers on signs do not convey a professional feeling. Parents might see it as a reflection of the impending camp experience.
Make sure to follow up within the week with the parents who have written their names on your “For further information” clipboard. They will have lots of questions and be impressed that you followed up so quickly. It will show your concern and interest. As stated above, you will receive an Excel spreadsheet of all attendees to the fairs which you participate. It may take a week for the list to be formed and distributed.
First of all, you will want to be in the main booklet and not the addendum. Parents who attend our fairs save the booklet; they routinely will call camps from the booklet in subsequent years. Their child is older and they would like a new experience or a different type of summer program or they may have moved to a new area. Camp directors tell us all the time that parents say they found them by looking through the booklet years later. Secondly, we will put your name up on our website, indicating the specific fairs you will be attending so that parents can specifically visit with you at a particular location. Thirdly, we have a new feature this year in which you can chose to have your camp’s logo and website link available well before and after the camp fairs. Parents may find you sooner in the camp recruiting season.