Marketing Your Camp to Diverse Populations

by Teresa Nicodemus

Cultural differences enhance the wonder of camp for children, youth, and adults. Camp directors recognize, value, and promote diversity within their camp environments. The following tips--inspired by camp directors--can help you gear your camp's marketing to diverse populations.

Emphasize Diversity in Your Marketing Materials

Your camp's marketing materials are key to reaching and inspiring campers and parents to attend your camp. Keep these points in mind as you create literature that appeals to diverse populations:

  • Show your prospects how you are a multicultural camp rather than just 
    saying you cater to multicultural populations. In your marketing materials, 
    emphasize nondenominational programming. Show details and give 
    examples, such as "We play sports games from all around the world – Israel, 
    Spain, America. . . ."
  • In your marketing materials, identify common links between all populations 
    such as honesty and helping others.
  • Create flyers describing what your camp offers, fees, and dates of your camp sessions. Distribute them to apartment complexes and homes in the diverse neighborhoods you wish to target.
  • Be aware of cultural distinctions, have a diverse staff, and be willing to show 
    diversity through pictures you use in your brochures, flyers, or videos.
  • Have literature about your camp available in different languages.

Your Community Can Be a Marketing Tool

Valuable opportunities exist in your own communities to reach multicultural audiences:

  • Establish a camp committee of parent volunteers from the community
    to pair with parent prospects. These volunteers meet with the prospective
    parent or call them and relay their personal experiences at your camp. 
    Community volunteers can help make the new prospects feel more comfortable
    about sending their child to your camp for the first time.
  • Post your camp's literature at your community centers to reach 
    inner-city prospects.
  • Find out the most popular radio stations and programs among the 
    ethnic communities and access ad and interview opportunities to promote your program and desire to recruit campers and staff from the community. An
    estimated eighty percent of the African-American community listens to culturally
    based programming on the radio, so radio can be a useful tool to reach ethnic populations.
  • Offer camperships to camper who might not otherwise be able to afford
    camp. Work with community organizations that have a camp connection and
    can help you appeal to diverse populations and subsidize scholarships. Ask
    about programs that sponsor camperships at your local United Way office.

National Advertising

Using national advertising can be a strong conduit for relaying your multicultural message. Consider these suggestions:

  • Contact organizations geared to diverse populations: the National Association
    for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Council of 
    La Raza (NCLR), the Spanish counterpart of the NAACP. You may be able to 
    attend their conferences and set up a booth to advertise your camp.
  • Advertise in various ethnic publications, for example, Jet, Ebony,
    Hispanics Today
    , or Latina.

Reaching International Staff and Campers

Extend your camp's message to international staff and campers:

  • Ask about student exchange programs at the schools within your target
    community and direct your marketing to exchange students. Contact the 
    local PTA. They may provide a summer activity expo where you can set up 
    a booth to welcome exchange students to your camp. Inquire about the 
    opportunity to sponsor PTA bulletins.
  • Be aware that your camp's Web site has an international audience and can
    be a strong tool for recruiting international staff and campers.

Teresa Nicodemus is the assistant editor of Camping Magazine.
Tips contributed by Heather Dauzvardis, Rhonda Robinson, Henry Thomas, and Angela Kunkel.



Originally published in the 2000 July/August issue of Camping Magazine.