If they come . . . will you be ready?
Every summer affords the opportunity to record still photos or video footage for use in marketing tools that will attract enrollments in your camp. If this is the summer when you engage the services of a photographer or videographer to come and capture the images, will you be ready?
Reflect for a moment on this unfortunate scenario: Your camp hires a video company. The crew arrives at camp, and both you and they realize that little or no preliminary discussion has taken place. But, there they are. You hastily try to rustle up a staff member to escort them for the next two or three days, but nobody has been given advance notice of their schedule or their needs. It comes time to record staff and camper interviews. Respondents stand in front of the camera, speechless, because they have given no thought as to how they can best express their feelings. Everyone does the best they can in this "punt" situation, and the end result is inevitably disappointing.
How can you avoid this? Think of five sequential steps that together spell "image."
Often a video crew leaves camp with interview clips that do not include the emotional, heartfelt thoughts that are shared around the campfires. Why? Because your folks don’t know her or him. Your campers and staff are not likely to open up to the camera on the spur of the moment unless you have told with them beforehand how important their thoughts are. Your staff and campers need to think a bit about what they want to say, and they need to know how important it is to you and to the camp that they speak from their heart.
G: Go for It!
Pointers to Prepare for the Shoot
Based on what I have learned from past experiences, here are some pointers to make the most of your camp’s video or photography shoot.
In advance of the shoot:
On the shoot day or days:
Don't Forget about Bunk Life
Don’t let the crew go before they thoroughly cover the bunks. Yes, those structures that many camp directors are not really proud of. That is the facet of resident camp that children say they want to really understand. After all, most children who are scouting first camp experiences have been swimming and most have played tennis, but few have slept in a cabin with six or more others for a week or longer. They want the visual reassurance that they will enjoy this, so show them.
Using In-House Talent
Some camps choose to produce the images in-house rather than hire outside professionals. If this is your situation, the same tips and pointers apply to the staff members chosen to record these precious images of camp. Your staff members must take this assignment with utmost seriousness and dedication. In addition, the staff members can be encouraged to actually leverage their familiarity with the campers and fellow staffers to elicit more personal moments. As an example, the on-staff videographer at one camp stood right at the buses on the last day of the season and campers allowed him to get close-up footage of their tear-stained faces. He recorded indelible images, such that no outsider would have been allowed to get in the same way.
The key to obtaining successful marketing images of your camp is the amount of involvement a hard-working photographer or videographer — and you — commit.
Steve Cony is a marketing consultant who assists children's camps with the development of strategic plans and the execution of marketing materials. Camp directors may contact him at 914-271-8482.
Originally published in the 2001 January/February issue of Camping Magazine.