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Strategies to Turn Summer Campers into Enrolled Students
Connor Gleason

In the fight to support enrollment goals, sometimes just getting new families on your school’s campus is half the battle. Introducing your admissions office’s secret weapon: summer camps.

If your school offers a summer program, it’s a huge advantage for the admissions office — summer camps are the Trojan Horse of school marketing strategies to increase student enrollment … get students on campus, make them never want to leave, and then you’ve got a natural pipeline of new families with school-aged children who are already familiar with your school. Win.

Without the restrictions of a hefty tuition investment, summer camps invite the extended community to your campus, often bringing in campers from neighboring towns and communities who wouldn’t otherwise have known what you have to offer.

But just because they’re on campus enjoying everything your summer camp offers, families need to know more about the value of your academic programs, extracurricular activities, and amazing faculty before they consider meeting with your admissions office or submitting an inquiry. They need to understand the experience of being on campus all year long.

To help turn the tide, here’s how to increase student enrollment by turning your summer camp registrants into enrolled students.

Segment your audience during registration

As you review your camp registration process, make sure you collect important details about your families and campers – this will support your marketing plan to increase school enrollment for next fall. For example, personal interests, grade level, hobbies— the data you collect in your form fields can be used to segment particular audiences and craft personalized communications all year long. 

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Invite your theater camp registrants to the fall play, or send an invite to your soccer camp players to the season-opener. Do you offer a STEM camp? This fall, invite your summer camp parents to register for a personal tour of your MakerSpace and to learn more about your program.

Hotchkiss Summer camp form

The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT, takes this approach with its summer programs’ inquiry form, collecting information from potential campers about engineering, math, and astronomy, among other interests. With its summer day and boarding program being the perfect transition to its academic experience, it'll be able to target its marketing efforts to those specific audiences with similar passions.

Keep in touch during the school year

Once the leaves turn brown and the summer sun disappears, don’t let those leads go cold. With an automated email drip campaign, you can keep families engaged by sending top-of-the-funnel information about your school’s academic programs and campus life. It's a great way to remind families throughout the year of what your campus facilities and your academic programs offer. Plus, by using Finalsite Workflows, you can schedule emails in advance, then schedule content to be sent at certain intervals or based on your recipient’s engagement.

Breck Summer Programs

Since Breck Summer Programs is open to both Breck and non-Breck students, the school knows that many of its campers join the program from around the Twin Cities Metro area. And as their website details, its summer camp enrollment takes advantage of the variety of resources within the Breck School — studio art spaces, nature ponds, athletic fields, dance studios, performance theater, and state-of-the-art computer labs. The school does a great job at highlighting its proximity to the downtown area and reminding families of all it has to offer. (Did we mention the indoor heated swimming pool?)

Offer an open house for campers and families

Find a date on the calendar during your camp’s summer schedule and hold a mini-admissions open house. It’s a chance to take an extended tour through campus and open up additional classrooms to families that may have not been in use during camp.

As your teaching faculty return to campus at the end of summer to set up classrooms for the academic year, consider carving out some time in their schedules to meet with campers, give a sample lesson, and start developing relationships with your campers. With the chance to meet the teachers, it might help demystify who your teachers are and support a camper’s interest in receiving a top-notch education in the fall.

Suffield Summer Programs

It’s no coincidence that Suffield Academy’s admissions office is busy hosting summer group tours and its Day Student Summer Preview days in August, both of which are convenient follow-ups to its Summer Academy program. Prior to signing up, the school kindly asks families to complete its SchoolAdmin inquiry form, making the registration process a breeze.

Invite them back for a shadow day

Getting summer camp registrants to return to campus to experience a “normal” school day during the academic year will help paint a picture of what you offer during the fall. Partner with your student ambassadors and create a shadow day — an opportunity for campers to “shadow” a student and get the real experience.

St. Mary's Ryken Knight for a Day

St. Mary’s Ryken, a catholic high school in Leonardtown, Maryland, invites prospective students to campus to spend the day as a “knight” and learn what SMR is all about. How cool does that sound? Paired with a current student, guests attend classes, explore campus, and experience the day in the life of an SMR student. Better yet, if your camper is already friendly with a current student, creating an exclusive opportunity for them to tour for the day is a great strategy to help develop those blossoming relationships.

Cross-promote your school and camps on social media

Cross-promote your school with your summer camp audience through your school’s social media platforms. Start a countdown until classes begin, post memories for Throwback Thursdays, top 10 lists — there are lots of opportunities to pull content from school accounts into your summer accounts and vice-versa.

Summer at Taft Social media

The official summer camp account for the Taft School summer programs keeps active by sharing some great visuals from their fun-filled activities throughout the summer. And since they’ve promoted their summer school classes, they’ve nicely tied in its academic program into their summer offerings. They’ve also tagged Taft’s official account, crossing both audiences and hopefully getting a few clicks over to their school account — great strategy! 

Keep your website updated over the summer

Just because your academic year is on hold during the summer months, it doesn't mean your website gets a vacation. Creating online resources for summer camp families — camp updates, news events, lunch menu swaps, health records — all the important information your summer campus families need to know. Keep them on your site so families start engaging with your content and become more familiar with your school.

Regis School Summer camp pop up

During the summer months, Regis School has activated a page pop on its admissions page, interweaving early registration for its fun summer programs with its admissions and enrollment process. When users are checking out the camp information, you can’t help but notice the cross-promotion of its student-life content on its beautiful site.

Keep Reading: 8 Ways to Refresh Your Admission Pages this Summer

Streamline your enrollment process

When your summer families are ready to take the next step and inquire about your school’s academic programs, you’ll want an admission and enrollment experience that makes that process as smooth as possible. Collect relevant information for a personalized experience, schedule 1:1 meetings with just a few clicks, and fully integrate your admissions data with your website so you can review all the important admissions and enrollment data you’ll need to inform your strategy. When families are ready, you’ll want to give them an amazing experience.

Key Takeaway

Winning over your summer camp registrants is a golden opportunity to help support enrollment goals. For many children and teens, summer is the best part of their year, and with a little strategy and planning, your marketing efforts can help families realize the value of what your school offers all year long.

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Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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