Tips for Camp Recruiting During the Pandemic

How to recruit staff and campers for future sessions during the pandemic.
min read

Waiting to see how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out brings a lot of uncertainty to our lives, particularly camp directors trying to plan for the summer season.

Some of the most cherished childhood memories come from the days spent at summer camp. And during this time, how do you keep the idea of your camp programs alive when so many people doubt it will take place? How do you drum up interest, market enrollment and hire the best recruits? Keep these tips in mind for camp program awareness and hiring staff members during COVID-19. 

Camp Program Enrollment

  • Keep Programs On-Mind - You can’t hire a staff member unless your camp exists. Market your camp through on-going emails, scheduled social media, packaging and time-sensitive discounts and connecting with local schools. For help with your marketing initiatives and driving registrations, consider ACTIVE’s Digital Marketing Agency services.  
  • Reach Out to Families - Assure them you are monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and while you hope the camp takes place in-person, you also have backup plans. Gain their confidence by sending a program list of virtual programs that will be offered in case of camp cancellation. The idea is to plant the “virtual program” seed ahead of time, so if the camp is canceled, families are ready to go to Plan Virtual. Learn more about taking your programs virtual.
  • Drum up Interest Using Alumni - Do you have camp alumni that keep in touch with you? Enlist an alum to utilize social media with a #ThrowBackThursday or #TestimonialTuesday post. Posts that are concise and humorous always work best. Have them tag your camp program, other alum and potential families and recruits.

Recruiting Staff Members

  • Connect With Camp Families - Young families are a wealth of information; most have babysitters or even nannies on hand and are plugged into the young adult world. They can get the word out about your program and, often, can give you names of possible recruits off the top of their head. Give them an offer of, for example, $100 a week at camp, (or even a half-price discount) for every camp counselor they recommend and who gets hired. A side benefit is any camper who recruits a staff member is likely to return next summer to take advantage of their discount—a win for all sides.
  • Connect With Returning Staff - Contact your team members who have already committed to summer 2020 and let them know your plans for moving forward. Communicating with them as soon as possible alleviates any uncertainty they may have.
  • Reach out to Uncommitted Staff - Their plans may very well have changed. It is highly likely that internships, study abroad opportunities and family reunions have been canceled or postponed. That camp counselor position may now sound quite promising.
  • Create Special Email for Applicants - Your applicants will be coming from a variety of recruiting websites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter and other online employment search engines. An email will not only acknowledge the application receipt but will also inform and educate the recruit about the job.
  • Make the Virtual Interview Easy - Depending on what applications your camp utilizes, make the virtual meeting user-friendly. Use Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts or Zoom to conduct the interview or follow-up questions. These applications are also effective ways to stay on each other’s radar
  • Appeal to a Sense of Purpose - COVID-19 has deflated a lot of dreams. Young adults not only want to make money, but they also want to have a sense of purpose. Many of them have had internships deferred, ceremonies postponed and graduations canceled. Let them know that their camp position includes more than keeping an eye on the campers, it requires being a role model and leader.

 Reduce Candidate Resistance

  • Offer a Perk - Many companies treat recruits to lunch or send a small gift after an interview. Since you’ll be interviewing your candidate virtually, offer a gift card to attend a meeting. A small gift card to an REI, Sierra Trading Post, Camping World or Amazon can do wonders.
  • Tell Recruits They’ve Met Criteria - One way to reduce fear is to let them know upfront that they’ve met the qualifications. Like any job candidate, potential camp counselors might be reluctant to interview because they don’t like being rejected. Communicating with the recruit that they are qualified can diminish anxiety because they know they’ve overcome this vital step.

Forget about dog walking, driving a golf caddy, mowing lawns or delivering pizzas. We all know the best summer job for a young adult is as a camp counselor. Now, we need to let our recruits know about the life-changing opportunities!

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April 22, 2020
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