Start the Camp 1. Big Picture

start the camp

Say you really enjoy a certain skill or activity, and you want to share it with others.  You do it a few times, and realize that this is totally something that you could make some money from.  You’re idea is not any less than that of the arts school down the street, so why shouldn’t you be able to teach it too and add your own area of expertise?  This was my story.

I have a variety or creative pursuits, and so I decided to start an arts and crafts camp, and was excited to see that a lot of girls enjoy it.  So I did it the next year, and the year after that, and this year too, and have learned so much about running camps through the process.  The cool part though is that since starting my little enterprise, I’ve seen 3 friends start drama camps, another friend start a gymnastics camp, and my cousin held a ballet camp. Running camps is so doable, and I think that it could become a legitimate source of income for teens, just as much so as working fast food or something similar.

So here’s the start of this series!  I hope if you ever decide to try it (do it. do it. do it.), these posts will be helpful!

1. big picture

The very first step in planning a camp is, obviously, thinking of the camp you want to run. I suggest sitting down with a notebook in the first stages and writing ideas as you go.  That way, even if you don’t end up incorporating an aspect at first, you can go back later if you need more ideas.

What will camp look like?

What do you want to teach at the camp?  It’s a simple enough question, but an important one to nail down. Make sure that what you want to do is sort of unique and if it’s not, how can you make it different from all the other ballet camps out there? Maybe yours is for not-serious young girls who want to learn some basics, but their moms don’t want to investing in a pair of ballet shoes and a leotard. Or maybe your camp will teach all sorts of different styles of dance in one camp.  Or maybe your camp will have a really cool opportunity to perform what they did at the camp at somewhere on the last day (can you tell I’m not a ballerina).  With Creative Chicks, I wanted to teach a variety of crafts forms (painting, drawing, sewing, baking, and drama) and to do actual projects that would teach the beginnings of a skill.  Basically, I wanted to teach projects that were cool skills, as opposed to projects that were dumbed-down or easy to teach.  For now, just think in terms of broad categories instead of individual activities.

Where will the camp be?  The easiest answer is of course your house. It’s an easy place because it’s also where you live and will store all your craft supplies, and you don’t have to pay to use it.  I’ve also heard of some art schools hiring people to run their own camps at their location, or of creative writing camps held at a neighborhood pool, or of drama camps being held at a church.  It never hurts to ask the owners if a different place is more conducive to your camp!  And if their will be any sort of going “off campus” or “field trips”, it’s good to start thinking about logistics early.  For Creative Chicks, we’ve walked across the street to a park to do some nature craft projects and drove in vans to a fabric store so the girls could pick out their own fabric for the skirts we were sewing.

Who would your ideal camper be? Think about ages, interests, gender, etc.  For me it was elementary school girls who couldn’t get enough of creative projects. Do your campers need to know anything in advance before coming to the camp (how to read…how to operate a sewing machine…be potty trained if it’s a camp for really little kids!)? Start thinking if you know people in your niche.  You can either limit your camps to only allow certain ages, or you can keep it more open but focus your marketing (more on this later…. (:) on the specific age group.

Try to visualize a day at camp.  Figure out how many campers you would idealistically have, and then picture them doing some of the activities they are doing.  Do you do things in a large groups, or split into small groups for rotations at any point.  Will you have anyone else help to run the activities?  It’s okay to be very broad at this point, because you’re just brainstorming.  You can decide what exactly you want to do later.

painting is always a highlight.

Painting is always a highlight.

If you’re a teenager still, pitch your biz idea to your parents.

You’ll want them on board for this, and I found my mom to be so helpful in bouncing ideas off of and helping me work through some practical things. Especially if you want to hold a camp at your house, you should talk about what you’re doing before hand.  It’s better to know that you are in no way allowed to paint on dining room chairs before camp starts.  #beentheredonethat.

With all this in mind, start thinking/discussing what dates and times you’ll be having the camps. I’ve had one “overnight” sleepover camp for middle school girls once, and it was a completely different deal than day camps.  If you are starting out, I highly recommend doing a week long or four day camp.  I think those are the ones of the best value to parents, so you’ll earn the most money. For example, having a one day long from 9-5 camp is the exact same number of hours as having a camp from 10 am – 12 pm Monday through Thursday.  But moms will probably pay more for the week long camp, just because it seems like more instruction time.  I’ve tried it all, but a typical Creative Chicks session goes from Monday to Thursday and I have a 3 hour morning session and 3 hour afternoon session (same crafts morning and afternoons but different girls).  Another thing to start mulling over is how much you want to earn from this, and how much you think you could charge.  I’ll have a whole separate post on that, but it’s good to start thinking.

Get your name

This is SO hard for extremely indecisive people like me.  Maybe you have a knack for names and already have ideas, but if you are stuck you could try looking at similar camps’ names and see if you like them. Think of personal things you could use.  It may be as simple as “Lane’s Art Extravaganza” or “Periwinkle [a nickname of mine] Camps”. Start making a running list, even if you don’t like the names you come up with and think they’re completely stupid.  Think of as many event/class/camp/or even blog names as you can. What made you remember them. Was it somehow funny or ironic, cute, did it have alliteration (think Caddy’s Corner or Sewing Skirts with Sarah, if you’ll exuse the lameness of those examples). Or did the name just roll? See if you have any similar names on your list. And if you’re still stuck, ask others for ideas.  My mom came up with Creative Chicks!  At last though, you just have to pick it and stick with it.  In the long run a name will not affect your camp nearly as much as it seems. It’ll probably grow on you the more you use it anyway.

Walking to the park to do some nature crafts.   Doing different things through the week is fun.

Walking to the park to do nature crafts. Varying the kinds of projects through the week is fun. (:

Wowww, that was a long and really text heavy post!  I hope it’s not overwhelming.  These are all things to be mulling over when you say you want to run a camp, and if it’s the right idea, it should be fun to think about.  I start thinking of camps months before I even send out a flyer, so even though next summer is about as far away as it can get, it’s never to early to start planning.  Or you could think about having a short camp over Christmas or spring breaks!  So many ideas….

have a good weekend!


1 Comment

Filed under business, start the camp series

One response to “Start the Camp 1. Big Picture

  1. mom

    Wow, I came up with that name? Brilliant! Just make sure your name doesn’t limit your customers (for example, Creative Chicks might not be appealing to boys if you ever wanted to open it up to them in the future…unless it is a teenager camp and boys wanted to come check out the chicks; so in that case, it’s a great marketing plus!)

    Liked by 2 people

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