Marketing Opinion

Camp Fair Giveaways – Is it Worth It?

Do you give away little goodies to get people to come to your camp fair booth? If so, does it help?

Recently, I was at a camp fair along with dozens of other camps trying to stand out from the crowd to prospective campers and parents. At the door, visitors were given a bag to keep their brochures and goodies in. As parents left I noticed that there bags were full of brochures and goodies alike. Camps were giving all kinds of things away. Here are some of the give-aways I saw…

  • Embroidered hats
  • Hawaiian leis
  • Hacky Sacks
  • Frisbees
  • T-Shirts
  • Candy
  • Keychains
  • Grab bags of Oriental Trading toys

We contemplated giving something away, but as I put myself in the shoes of a parent I decided that getting a “goody” would not have any bearing on whether or not I would choose a particular camp for my child. The brochure, staff that I met, price, location and programming options would. Of course, kids walking around or going to school with a t-shirt or hat displaying the name of my camp would certainly be a good thing.

I may be totally off on this. All I know is that I saw kids and parents going around the fair grabbing all the freebies they could, but they were also picking up the brochures from the camp booths that weren’t giving anything away.. What do you think? Does it make sense to give away goodies? Does it really make a difference?


  • We don’t need to give away goodies to entice people since we typically have a waiting list. AND….if we have to spend money on goodies, then the price of camp would probably go up. I think all of us parents know what it’s like to get these goodies (more junk???) and we would rather pay a little less. Just my thoughts. T-shirts and hats are good advertisement and everyone likes a new shirt.

  • Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for the feedback. I tend to agree with you on that. We do fine without giving away things as well. Then again we don’t have a waitlist for our camps. Hopefully, one day.

  • I agree with Cindy. I really dislike getting “instant trash” toys and goodies. I think this is the kind of thing the country needs to take a look at while we wonder why our landfills are filling up. I rather buy a Frisbee then get a cheap promotional one for free that I can’t throw 5 feet or throw away. If camp is claiming to bring kids back to nature they should practice what they preach. I think your clever t-shirt would be a better sell for me.

  • In my experience for any convention or fair it is just a trend or game for visitors to pick up as much trash as they can to put in their bags. Don’t waste the money. However, if you do want to give something away, be smart about it. Buy a few shirts in medium and Large that are simple and fashionable so someone would be more apt to wear it other than when painting the garage. Then only give away the shirts as incentive for early enrollment, a deposit, or even just to people that you have a real strong feeling about. That way you’re spending way less money but still giving away something that people won’t leave in their goody bag for a few months before rediscovering it for spring cleaning.

  • We do not give away anything at our fairs but we usually have a door prize that we give away( a resturant gift card usually). Each interested person drops their name and address in a container and we draw one out and send them their prize, we send out information to everyone that registered for the gift card. We do give them a camp back pack when they register for camp, that they will be able to use during field trips!

    • I think that’s a great way to get leads at camp fairs. In the past I have done the same thing but we gave a week of camp to the winner. I like the idea of giving a backpack (or hat, or beach towel) to the kids that register. Thanks for sharing, Rose.

  • Those of you that to drawings, do you typically have a lot of people who take the time to complete a short form and/or drop in their business card? We don’t currently do this, but I’m thinking about it. I’d love to offer a camp-related gift card or item- let me know if you have ideas!

  • Kim, when we collected names at camp fairs we had a big jar full of marbles. Kids and parents had to guess how many were in there and write their answer on a clipboard along with their name, email address and the ages of their children. The family that gets closest wins a week of camp. The kids were definately drawn in by the colorful marbles and the guessing game aspect of it all.

    I have always thought it would be fun to have a pachenko style game where kids could play once and possibly win a t-shirt or hat. I think that would draw the kids and parents in as well. While the kids are playing I can talk to the parents.

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