Today’s digital parents are tech-savvy and commonly use apps to monitor their children’s activities throughout the day. In response, a growing number of camp providers are developing communication apps that help them keep parents better informed about their child’s experience. Camp operators have long used traditional means of communication like newsletters, websites, and printed schedules to inform parents about important dates, locations, and policies. But now many camps are developing new communications strategies that help them stay connected with parents while also protecting kids’ privacy. If you operate a summer camp or plan to do so in the future, investing in an app-based communications strategy is essential for connecting with parents effectively. Read on to discover how technology can support your organization this year — and for many summers to come — by lowering barriers between campers and counselors, streamlining communication between parents and staff members, and more.
Managing the camp-parent relationship
The relationship between camp providers and parents is often the foundation of a successful summer program — but it’s not easy to maintain. There are many potential points of tension that could cause problems, including: - Scheduling: Finding a suitable time that works for both parents and camp staff can be challenging. - Geography: In-person meetings and activities can be challenging for parents whose children are far away. - Privacy: Some parents may be uncomfortable with the idea of sharing their child’s personal information with camp staff. - Cost: Some parents may feel uneasy about the cost of a single activity or the entire summer program. While it’s impossible to eliminate all of these potential barriers, technology can help you manage them by lowering the barriers to communication, improving accessibility for both staff and parents, and promoting a sense of trust between parents and staff members.
Streamlining parent communication
There are two main ways to streamline communication between parents and staff members: integrating communication tools into your existing app, and creating a separate app for communicating with parents. Integrating communication tools into your app If you’ve developed a communication app, you can use the same platform to support real-time communication with parents. Many communication apps allow you to integrate with third-party apps like WhatsApp and Zoom to make it easier for parents to connect with staff members. If you’ve developed a communication app, you can use the same platform to support real-time communication with parents. Many communication apps allow you to integrate with third-party apps like WhatsApp and Zoom to make it easier for parents to connect with staff members. Creating a separate app for communicating with parents If your communication app is designed to support one-way communication — i.e., you send out information but don’t engage in two-way communication — it may not be an ideal tool for parent communication. In this case, you may want to build a separate app just for parents. This option has several advantages. First, it allows you to create a more personalized experience for parents, tailoring the app to their specific needs and comfort level with technology. It also helps you keep parents’ communication separate from that of staff members, which may help you reduce the level of anxiety parents feel about sharing information.
Helping campers find their friends
Many communication apps offer a feature known as “friend finder,” which allows campers to search for other campers by name or contact information and connect with them. This feature makes it easier for campers to find their friends — and see how they’re doing. Friend finder can be particularly useful at the end of camp when parents are picking up their children. When a parent arrives to collect their camper, they can quickly search for their child and then use the friend finder feature to let the campers know they’re there. Not all communication apps offer friend finder, so if it’s important to your camp, make sure you select an app that has this feature.
Creating a digital record of camp experiences
Many communication apps offer a feature that allows users to record audio messages that are saved in the app’s database. This feature can be useful for three main purposes: - Recording memories: Campers can record memories or insights they’ve gained from their experience at camp. - Sending cheerful messages: Campers can use this feature to send cheerful messages to their parents, letting them know they’re having a good time. - Sending medical information: Parents may want to include medical information — such as allergies or asthma symptoms — in their children’s digital database. This feature may also be useful for staff members who want to record information about their campers, such as allergies, medications, or bedtimes.
The importance of digital amenities in camp
The rise of digital communication and social media has led many people to wonder why we need physical spaces like schools and offices, let alone summer camps — but the truth is that offline spaces are still important. In fact, offline amenities like libraries, cafes, and other public spaces are more essential than ever, as modern communication tools like social media can be a source of isolation, anxiety, and misinformation. What’s more, offline spaces like libraries and cafes let people choose the level of engagement they want to have with technology. You can use these spaces to support your campers and staff members by providing them with opportunities to disconnect from their devices and gain skills that help them manage technology in a healthy way. Alternatively, you can create offline amenities at your camp. One camp operator, for example, built a “no tech” room that included board games and other non-digital activities. This room was designed to create a safe space where campers could disconnect from their devices, interact with their peers, and enjoy old-fashioned activities.
Camps are increasingly using modern communication tools to help them stay connected with parents. One of the best ways to do this is to develop a communication app that allows you to send push notifications, send two-way communication, and create engaging content that is tailored to the needs of different audiences. If you’re an operator planning a new camp or an existing operation looking to improve your communication strategy, technology can help you manage the camp-parent relationship, streamline parent communication, and create a more personalized experience for campers.