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Get Ready. Get Set. GO for Summer Day Camps: Article or Project

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Summer day camps for kids are a gold mine for ceramic studios.

When you have children’s groups, you cannot ignore the needs and preferences of your regular clients. You need to keep in mind that not everyone wants to work around children and that many of your shop dwellers come to escape children and family distractions. With that in mind, you may want to schedule as many children’s activities as you can during the summer months, but leave plenty of time for your ‘regular’ customers. You must keep it clear that summer camps are NOT a baby sitting service; but rather a scheduled activity. Your resources for recruitment of potential students are virtually unlimited.

Suggestions for types of camps

The open workshop camp – Parents register their kids for particular time slots and pre-select various projects within a budgeted amount. Kids are dropped off and work on these projects in an informal, yet supervised setting. Usually for older children who can primarily function without constant attention.

The Structured Camp – Parents register their kids for a specific course that would be developmental and all kids enrolled would work on the same or similar projects under the supervision of the counselor/instructor. Usually 1 – 2 hour blocks of time, often multi-sessions for several weeks.

Closed groups sessions – A group of parents or counselors from other programs would bring in their group of kids to work on specific projects or an assortment of projects from a pre-determined list on a scheduled basis. Usually 1 – 2 hour blocks of time and usually only one or two sessions.

To save time, you should have some pre-determined, basic packages available that parents can choose from. These packages should be age (group) appropriate and have flexible budgets. Where possible, they should be adaptable to topical interest and appropriate skill levels. Custom packages can be created per individual interest. Package prices should include all materials, firings and something for the instructor’s time. Projects and techniques should be chosen that would enable the average child to complete them within the workshop time. Workshops can be a one visit or multiple visits schedule. Having a series of one (or two) day a week at the same 1-2 hour time slot for 3 to 4 weeks is a good workshop framework. You can run several of these at a time and then repeat the sessions one or two times during the course of the summer break. Sometimes parents (and kids) will be so thrilled with the activity, they will renew and sign-up for the following series (IF there are any openings).

For the scheduled open workshops, it should be required for parents to come in and sign-up their kids and open a pre-paid account with a set amount of money and the kid/s works on whatever they want during the workshop times until the account is depleted. Pre-evaluation of the child’s interest will help to have a stock of projects available by the time summer workshops get started.

Rules should be set like:

*Children under a specific age have to have an adult or older companion present in case the child becomes bored or unruly.
*Any child who is not picked up on time (within reason) can not return.
*Any child who does not behave appropriately will not be allowed back,
*All enrolments should be pre-paid.
*A no-refund policy once camp starts, and
*Cancellation penalties should be agreed to/signed by parent/guardian when enrolling a child.

For the more formal structured group, it would be a good idea to teach a brief introductory course of all basic aspects of ceramics and clay. Things you can include:

*a tour of the studio and discuss how molds are cast. Maybe even let them try casting a simple mold.
*explanation of how a kiln works, how to load, set cone, etc.
*a simple project working with molded clay
*how to clean greenware
*a project using non-fired techniques
*a project using glazes and fired techniques
*a project using special effects or overglazes like decals or snow

Where do you find the kids?

First of course, draw from your current customer base. Emails, fliers, in-store signage, out-side signs and posted on your web page, blog and web-network.

Second, send letters to the local schools to be disseminated to the teachers who in turn could pass on the information to their students. This often needs to be cleared with the principals or school districts administration; however they are often very accommodating for educational type summer programs.

Contact local day care centers. You can even schedule group classes with many of the day care centers who will bus in the kids for single day camps or even scheduled series of sessions. Most daycare centers look for activities for older, school age children only in their care during summer months.

Contact the Boy and Girl Scout leaders in your area via the GSA and BSA council…sometimes the schools can give you this information.

Contact Boys and Girls clubs in your area

Contact local churches. Many have vacation bible schools and they could work out something for their groups or pass on the information to their parishioners.

Place fliers and bulletins in laundromats, libraries, grocery stores, etc. Wherever there is a bulletin board – post the information. Make sure your fliers have tear off tags for contact information or people will take them down for their own use/reference. Most libraries have tables and displays where you can leave information to be picked up.

*Start advertising now and escalate it as you get closer to the end of the school year.
*Make contacts with the various organizations and get their input as to what they need in order to work with you in using their contacts and resources.
*Set-up assorted packages and pricing levels.
*Gather projects geared to various age and skill levels.

Get set…Get ready………..GO FOR SUMMER CAMPS


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Get Ready. Get Set. GO for Summer Day Camps

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