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The VIP Experience

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Red carpets, fine dining, priority seating, behind-the-scenes access, early admission…in general, special treatment, exclusivity, pampering – these are the kinds of things a VIP Package might offer.

It’s not just an experience for celebrities and Fortune 500 CEOs; amusement parks, sports venues, zoos, museums, concert venues and tourist spots like Vegas all offer VIP experiences. Of course, it’s not cheap to get VIP treatment if you’re not a celebrity. That’s why not everyone does it. Have you ever been through the Walt Disney VIP Experience? Starting at $315 per hour, I am guessing you probably haven’t. Neither have I, but if I had the means to do it, I would. Of course, VIP packages, tours and experiences range in price. Some are less expensive and others are much more expensive.

At a recent camp fair I had a parent ask me if her child could steer the ferry on the way to camp.  I jokingly replied, “That’s part of the VIP Package.” That’s when the light-bulb hit. Why couldn’t we offer a VIP Experience?

Why offer a VIP Experience?

Offering a VIP experience can seem elitist, and your camp is all about being as fair as possible, right? Well, let me ask you, do you offer your older campers special privileges – like field trips, different activities, overnight camp-outs? Do you offer cabin groups that have been exceptionally well-behaved any special privileges – like going into the dining hall first for meals? Then you’re already offering a VIP experience of sorts. You just aren’t labeling it.

Here are some reasons why offering a VIP experience (and possibly charging a higher registration fee for it) may be a good idea for your camp…

  • It can raise much needed funds for a special camp project.
  • It can raise funds for camperships so that those who cannot normally afford to come to camp have the chance.
  • It can raise money for an organization/school (auction prize).
  • It can give parents the opportunity to do something really special for their child.
  • It can be a reward for winning a contest.
  • It can be a reward for doing something very special for camp (i.e. building a new dock, painting the dining hall, etc.).
  • It can be a gift for a large donation to the camp.
  • It can give the staff an opportunity to go all out (VIP camp).
  • It can give the camp some publicity.
  • It would be fun to put together and offer.

So let’s say you decide that perhaps offering a VIP experience is something worth exploring…

How a Camper Might Get the VIP Experience

There are a number of ways you can offer a VIP Package/Experience to kids.

  • For an additional charge – This is the best option if your camp audience has discretionary income.
  • As an auction item – Odds are that this option will bring in more money than an increased registration fee for your organization or for the organization the auction funds are supporting.
  • As a prize – If you are holding a t-shirt or bandana design contest, or some other type of contest, this would make an impressive prize.
  • As a reward – If during camp a camper shows exceptional camp spirit, courage or positive behavior, they might be rewarded with ONE of the VIP experiences.

Keep in mind that in order for it to be a true VIP experience you’ll need to limit the number of VIP packages you offer. Unless of course, you plan on offering a VIP camp.

Below are 20 ways to offer a VIP experience for a few campers and 20 ways to offer a VIP camp (for all campers).

20 Ways to Offer a VIP Experience

  1. Swag Bag – These goody bags might include a special t-shirt and a few popular items from the camp store.
  2. Special Transportation to and from camp – This might be a limo or a party bus for the VIP and his or her friends.
  3. Their own trading card
  4. Late night snack raid for the VIP and his or her cabin or friends
  5. A special bead or a patch on their camp shirt that says “VIP”
  6. Dinner with the director outside of camp
  7. A special dining room table decorated around the theme of camp
  8. Longer time at their favorite activities
  9. The chance to be in a skit with the staff
  10. Behind the scenes look at employee only areas (staff lounge, kitchen, offices, staff housing, maintenance shed,  etc.)
  11. A trip into town for some ice cream
  12. Special meal of their choice
  13. A special hike to a special area that is created just for them and a few friends
  14. The chance to sleep in
  15. The chance to help plan an event
  16. The opportunity to drive a camp boat, the hayride truck or a riding lawn mower
  17. The chance to be a counselor for a day
  18. A special treasure hunt
  19. Special before or after camp party
  20. If a guest comes to camp (magician, animal handler, etc.) and needs a volunteer,  the VIP gets to be “on stage”.

20 Ways to Offer a VIP Camp

If the idea of having a small group of campers get all the special privileges you can muster while the others watch doesn’t appeal to you, maybe you should consider a VIP camp. This is where every camper that particular session gets the VIP experience. Simply charge more (much more) than the regular registration fee, cut down the number of campers for the session so you have more staff to pull off this EPIC week, and plan a camp that will never be forgotten. You can include…

  1. Swag bags
  2. Party Bus transportation
  3. Stay up late, sleep in a few times during the week
  4. Offer exclusive camp clothing for sale or as part of the package
  5. Camp events that go above and beyond what you would normally offer
  6. Special guests (magicians, music artists/bands, celebrities, acrobatic performers, Jedis, Ninjas, Knights, Superheroes, etc.)
  7. Double the time for popular activities
  8. Go overboard on theme decorations
  9. Better camp food
  10. Field trips
  11. Epic color war
  12. Behind the scenes tours
  13. Commemorative photo books, DVDs, pictures and/or duffel bags
  14. The chance to build a project that will be at camp for years (fairy village, Gaga pit, a much needed fence, goat petting area, mural, etc.)
  15. A special overnight
  16. Better crafts than normal
  17. A special pool party
  18. Nightly DJs
  19. Free time in a special camper lounge
  20. Special activity or workshop sessions not normally offered

What are your thoughts on a VIP experience at summer camp? What would you offer?

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