Social Media for Summer Camps: The Ever Changing Summer Camp Industry

Even though the summer is our busiest time at Social Summer Camp (750 social media posts written a week…:)), I do like to take this time to reflect on the state of the Summer Camp industry.

The industry is at a very interesting place right now, driven by very fast growth in social media and advertising. Here are a few trends I am noticing in the industry:

Camp tuition prices are rising, making the potential customer base for summer camps even smaller: According to the American Camp Association, the average day camp costs $304 per week, while overnight camp tallies up at $690 but can be as high as $2,000 a week. It’s not unusual to see camp tuition prices rise year to year, but we are definitely seeing many camps (especially traditional overnight) reach an extremely high price point. While not necessarily a bad thing, this reduces the potential customer base for each camp significantly. There are about 3 million potential customers in the US who make over $500,000 a year. If you reduce that down by geographic location, you are talking about pretty small audience sizes.

Other-summer options, such as sports, science and college camps, are growing as alternatives: There have always been alternatives to summer camp, but we are definitely seeing these “other-summer options” growing as real alternatives to summer camp. Especially for kids who have already shown a great deal of promise in sports or academia, these options tend to be less expensive and are readily available in almost every city.

There are more opportunities to reach your customers on more platforms than ever before: This was a really exciting year for the social media and advertising industry. We saw the launch of Facebook lead form ads, Google customer match, Instagram ads and more. There have never been more opportunities to reach your audience on different platforms. When I worked at Facebook there was a motto that we could reach all the people you care about, at any time on any device. This is more true than ever.

But there are more camps using social media and advertising than ever. It’s harder to reach a unique customer: Reaching your customers is just half of the battle. There are now more camps using social media and advertising than ever before. This means that many potential customers are seeing ads from multiple camps in any given year. It is much harder to reach a unique customer as they are often seeing many summer camp ads before yours.

Word of mouth continues to be important, but there is a lot of it: Word of mouth has always been important for summer camps, but unfortunately there is a lot of it out there right now. For each mom deciding on a summer camp, she might have great personal recommendations from 2 or 3 different friends. Just relying on word of mouth isn’t as good of a solution as it once was.

So what does all of this mean? 

It is more important than ever to have a unique content strategy on social media: The social media content strategy of a camp often gets overlooked for the more interesting advertising strategy, but the content strategy is SO important. Almost every prospective parent & camper will end up scrolling through your organic social media content on either Facebook or Instagram. What do they see? A stream full of great quotes, testimonials, photos and videos, or a page that is devoid of any meaningful content? This makes a big difference in the final steps of recruiting.

Your advertising strategy can not be one size fits all: In this climate you must have a marketing strategy that reaches exactly the people you want to reach. Wasted impressions from a one size fits all strategy means wasted marketing dollars on your end. Your advertising strategy should be highly targeted, include extremely unique creative and be measurable every step of the way. 

It’s time to find a partner you trust: When I talk to summer camps they run the gamut of who works on their social media and advertising strategy. Some people are using inexperienced college students and some are paying six-figure agency fees. I respect all of the choices that individual camps make, but now is the time to find a partner to help you maximize your strategy. A partner who you can trust. At Social Summer Camp, we don’t underestimate the sacrifices our clients make to use our services. We are deeply committed to the summer camp industry and highly knowledgable in the marketing space. 

With summer winding down, we are so excited to continue our work in this dynamic industry! We will begin taking on new clients starting 9/1 as we expand our services to offer even more unique marketing and advertising strategies. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about Social Summer Camp, please email me anytime at