Early Bird Discounts (EBD) are commonplace in the summer camp world. They are used to get parents to act quickly instead of waiting until April or May to register. There are plenty of valid reasons a camp might offer an EBD, and there are plenty of valid reason why a camp would stay away from EBDs.
If you run a camp that doesn’t fill up, or a camp where most parents wait until April or May to register, and that cuts things a little to close to summer for you, than early bird discounts may be for you. But what if you don’t want to offer EBDs, or your Board of Directors, Executive Director or Organization’s Committee won’t approve EBDs? Well here are 10 alternatives to offer your parents.
1. A SPECIAL T-SHIRT
Many camps give each of their campers a camp shirt. Give campers a special t-shirt for registering early. It could be a long-sleeved version of your normal t-shirt to be worn during the winter months. It should be a special edition t-shirt you can’t get any other way.
2. PAYMENT PLANS
Many times parents want a discount because the cost of camp is high. Even with a discount, paying for camp in one lump sum is a lot. Instead of discounts, offer a payment plan. Yes, it is more work on your end, but you’ll be offering a service that will allow some kids, who wouldn’t normally be able to go to your camp, the opportunity to be a camper. This was how my mother paid for camp when I was a kid. I wouldn’t have been able go otherwise. Now look at where I am.
3. SPECIAL BEAD, BADGE OR PIN
Some camps have reward and recognition programs where campers earn beads, badges, pins or something similar. Campers will do just about anything to add to their reward collection. For early registrations offer a special, one-of-a-kind bead, badge or pin to be given at camp.
4. CAMP STORE CREDIT
If your camp has a camp store you can give a certain amount of store credit as a “thank you” for registering early. This way, campers can choose their own “prize” and all camp store credit that is not used stays at camp.
5. FRONT OF THE LINE WRISTBANDS
Have silicone bracelets printed with your camp name on them. Those campers that register early will receive one of these wristbands (or, if everyone gets a wristband, they will get a different color) that allows them to go to the front of the line for meals, activities or special events.
6. A SPECIAL EXPERIENCE
A special experience, given to campers who register early, can be the chance to throw a pie or water balloon at a favorite counselor, a behind the scenes tour of camp, a special evening dessert event, the chance to drive a jet ski, a field trip to town for ice cream, and/or something else that works for your camp.
7. A FRAMED PHOTO
Maybe you sell photos of cabin groups or the whole camp. Those who registered early get one free…that is framed. A great keepsake.
8. PRIORITY REGISTRATION
Offering priority registration to return campers is a definite plus for those parents who want a specific week based on their vacation plans. Give those who came multiple sessions last summer first priority at registering for next summer. A week later, open registration for all other return campers. A week or so after that, open registration to everyone.
9. A CARE PACKAGE
A welcome to camp care package can include treats, a special shirt, camp apparel, stickers, lanyard supplies and more.
10. A HOLIDAY PACKAGE
For those parents who are registering early give them the chance to give camp as a holiday present by offering a gift wrapped box of a camp care package.
What else can you offer instead of discounts for early camp registration?