Author: Cassie Scott
School is out and kids are bursting with energy and excitement. Parents, meanwhile, are seeking ways to channel that enthusiasm while keeping their kids entertained. And you’re waiting for the bowhunting rush to hit, and wondering how you’ll fill your range with customers next winter and spring.
The solution? Short-term archery camps. They introduce kids to archery and create sustainable revenue for longer-term programs that you can run in the fall, winter and spring.
To start creating future archers and bowhunters, focus on a one-day or one-week archery camp format. Depending on your needs, you can plan and implement a summer camp with just under a month of planning, which gives you plenty of time to bring in new customers through the remainder of the summer. The possibilities are endless when you use our seven-step plan.
Step 1: Define Your Target Age Group
Based on your target age group and available camp staff, set a total participant number that’s easily managed. Limited spaces prompt customers to act fast before they’re gone. Photo Credit: learnarchery.com
To increase your success, start planning for your archery camp about a month in advance. Are you patient enough to teach archery to 5- or 6-year-olds? Or would you prefer to work with teenagers? If you have time, create different camps to accommodate multiple age groups. With each camp, identify its capacity. Based on your target age group and available camp staff, (see Step 2) set a number that’s easily managed. Put a tagline like “Only 20 spots available!” on your advertising materials (see Step 6) to encourage parents to sign up quickly – and ensure your program is safe and valuable to customers.
Step 2: Select Your Staff, Designate a Leader
Selecting fun and approachable coaching staff is a must for hosting archery camps. Archery coaches provide beginners with a crucial first impression of the sport. Photo Credit: Parentguide News
After determining who you want to teach, find staff willing and able to instruct the campers. Everyone who works with them should be polite, responsible and personable. It’s best practice to pick a certified archery instructor to lead the way. An instructor with a USA Archery Level 1 or 2 archery certification will help you and your staff teach with authority, credibility and confidence. Plus, certified instructors give parents peace of mind, and teach newcomers proper form and technique, which ensures fun and success.
Step 3: Pick a Theme and Curriculum
Explore Bowfishing offers a great curriculum and introduces campers to a fun, new way to shoot archery. Photo Credit: ATA
Keeping your age group and instructor(s) in mind, decide which program to teach. Do you want to drive sales of recreational archery equipment? Run an Explore Archery camp! Are you focused on recruiting more bowhunters or bowfishers? Explore Bowhunting or Explore Bowfishing camps can deliver a lot of value.
As an ATA-member retailer, you have access to the Explore Archery, Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing programs and curriculums. Each program helps instructors, educators and program leaders teach kids basic archery, bowhunting or bowfishing skills.
Once you pick your camp’s theme, plan its schedule and choose the curriculum. Good news: These programs include outlines that make lesson plans a cinch. Use each program’s handbook to select lessons and activities based on the age groups you’re teaching. You can definitely create short-term, camp-based events using any of these programs.
Step 4: Identify Needs
If you decide to include 3-D archery at your summer camp, make sure your targets are up to the challenge. Younger kids tend to lean on targets; your gear must be able to withstand the wear and tear of younger campers. Photo Credit: ATA
With your staff and curriculum in place, what else do you need? Is your indoor range large enough? Will you take the campers outside for activities? Do you have enough equipment for them? Do you need to buy materials for lessons and activities? Do you have access to a pond or other water for bowfishing lessons? Will you provide lunch, or will campers bring their own? Will you give away T-shirts? They’re great marketing tools, but require extra work and money. As you plan each day, consider everything you’ll need to deliver fun success. Identifying needs takes a little time, but the potential return on your investment is huge.
Step 5: Determine Dates, Times and Prices
Study the dates of other camps in your area to decrease competition and maximize your number of potential campers at your archery camp. Photo Credit: Camp Dickenson
Consider the pros and cons of one-day and one-week camps. Planning and scheduling is less intensive for one-day camps, and time commitments are less demanding. On the other hand, you’ll likely make more money and build a better archery foundation with one-week camps. That means hooking more kids on archery and converting them into gear-buying customers.
Either way, study the dates of other camps in your area to decrease competition and maximize your number of potential campers. Next, determine the most convenient drop-off and pick-up times for parents. Last, consider everything from Step 4 to help set a reasonable price for your campers. Factor in the time, materials and benefits you’ll provide each camper. Study what similar camps in your area charge for services they provide, and go from there.
Step 6: Advertise, Market and Promote
Market your archery camp in newspapers, on social media and on your website. Event listings like this make it easy for potential campers to find and register for your event. Photo Credit: Whiteman AFB Youth Center via Facebook
Do all you can to promote your store, and boost attendance at your camp. Market your event in newspapers, on social media and on your website, and post fliers in windows and bulletin boards of nearby gyms, businesses and recreation centers. Provide news briefs about the event to media, and include the dates and times of the next class.
Use local resources to create advertising materials and a T-shirt design. Work with college or high school students pursuing marketing, graphic design or journalism careers, and offer them real-world experience. Plan at least a month in advance because cooperative projects take time to create, edit, review, revise and approve.
Step 7: Registration and Fee Collections
After your first archery summer camp, ask children and parents to evaluate the program to identify strengths and weaknesses. Provide a survey to get them thinking. Photo Credit: Smith and Associates Real Estate
Some camps provide online registration. Work with your web developer to see if this is possible. You may also use providers like archeryevents.com or active.com to set something up. They are easy and secure. Otherwise, create a signup document that parents can print, fill out, and mail or drop off. Make the document available on your website and wherever you advertise, and provide directions on how to get a copy. Keep track of these documents and update the participants’ list as you receive them. Set and enforce a registration deadline, and provide the number of slots available. The registration document should include a liability waiver for parents to sign.
After your first camp, ask children and parents to evaluate the program to identify strengths and weaknesses. Provide a survey to get them thinking. Realize you won’t get everything right the first time. Then, learn and adapt. If you create a detailed plan and revise it as you learn, your shop will deliver successful summer camps that are kid- and parent-approved! Encourage them to spread the word. Next stop: plan your fall programs, and keep in touch with your campers to get them excited about your fall archery classes!
To receive the ATA’s Explore Archery, Explore Bowhunting and Explore Bowfishing curriculums, and learn more about summer camps, contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of retail programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 640-0944.
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