Have you ever sat in your office in February wishing you captured a particular photo or video when camp was actually in session? I definitely have. At The Summer Camp Society, we put together some helpful lists (like this one) of photos and videos that you should be sure to grab before the summer is over. Gain inspiration from the following ideas to make your life easier come offseason.
Staff Recruiting Materials
Did you know that some camps even have separate social media accounts on platforms like Instagram and TikTok that are dedicated to staff recruitment? You might not want to go that far (although it is worth considering!), but at the very least it puts you in the mindset of collecting media that would be useful from a staff recruitment standpoint in the offseason. Here are some ideas:
- A hosted “day in the life” video from a current counselor, as well as other folks who are in roles you anticipate needing to fill for next summer or future summers (think: specialty activity instructors, cooks, nurses, and more)
- Testimonials from kids about why their counselors are important to them or why they look up to them
- Testimonials from counselors about why they love working at camp—and footage of them having the time of their lives doing so!
Camper and Family Orientation Materials
As camp directors, we tend to send a lot of written instructions to parents and other caregivers. We might share a family handbook, we might send multiple emails with instructions of what to pack, or we might give a checklist of what to expect on the first day of camp. However, not all of our caregivers and campers learn best by reading. And, when we read, our imaginations fill in a lot of the “blanks.” Creating videos that describe some of the important processes at camp can be super useful—and comforting—to our families:
- A visual guide of what to pack for camp: Capture footage (even better if this is “hosted” by a camper!) of what to pack for camp. Be sure to show things like how campers store their belongings in their living quarters, the best ways to label clothes, and what types of containers are best for packaging (suitcase, duffel bag, trunk, etc.).
- A demonstration of check-in day: Walk through the first day of camp with a family as they drop off their camper. Show caregivers and kids things like where they might expect to park, what a health check could be like, and how to say goodbye when they are ready to leave.
- “How-To” Videos: As a first-time caregiver or camper, there might be questions about how things work at camp. For instance, how might a camper get their medication? What happens if they don’t like the meal—are there other options? What are the swim tests like? Capture some short videos of campers and staff going through some of the camp basics to share with families before camp next year (and post to your social media!).
Things That are Uniquely Yours
I follow hundreds of camp social media accounts, and 80% of the pictures are similar. While that’s OK—we have a lot of smiling kids and attentive staff—but social media presents an opportunity for you to tell the unique story of your camp. But in order to do so, you need to be deliberate about capturing things that differentiate you from other summer youth experiences.
- Make a list of all of your camp’s traditions, and be sure to have photos and videos of each of them. Traditions can be things that are always on the calendar (for instance, the camp “closing ceremony” that you have at the end of each session), or things that happen randomly throughout the summer (like the ritual you might do for a camper’s birthday).
- Your unique landscape: Not all camps are in a beautiful natural environment, but regardless, find a “vista” that is unique to your camp. This might be something human made, like the flagpole where campers always gather for morning meetings or something more natural, like the view of the lake from your assembly ring. Take photos of this location throughout all sorts of weather and all sorts of activities.
- Finally, work to capture things that only happen at your camp. This could be something like the unique breakfast muffins that are a secret recipe from your camp cook or a funny song about the monster that lives in your camp’s forest. Whenever there is something that “only” happens at your camp, capture it!
In some ways, what I’m describing above is the opportunity to illuminate the hidden curriculum of your camp using social media. Social media gives us a window into things that we've never seen and also helps us connect with things that are familiar. Sharing things about your camp on social media with folks who are new helps them feel more comfortable with your program and more likely to want to participate and be successful when they join. Sharing with folks who are already part of your community helps them remember what is special about your camp and why it is meaningful to them. The trick is making sure you capture the footage to do so before the summer ends!