Advice on Retaining Summer Participants

So your participants had a great summer experience… now what?! 

Does this sound like your typical summer experience? You spent countless hours forming relationships with camp members teaching them to play instruments, record songs, perform on stage and more. The summer ends and you never see those participants again… it’s frustrating! Below are some strategies that have worked for seasoned Youth Development professionals to help retain summer participants in the new school year.  

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Example #1 – Create hype with parents

“We’ve been hyping up school year programming with members and their parents – some just need to be aware that the fun doesn’t stop after summer. ”
 – Submitted by Nick Tetrault, West End House Boys & Girls Club
  • Parents are the biggest asset for ensuring consistent attendance 
    • Invite as many parents into your program as possible during the summer. Invite them to performances, recording sessions and community events
    • Send a letter home to advertise your programs – Highlight the wording “Invitation to enroll” 
    • Host a parent info-session before the summer ends
      • Have google forms ready for enrollment in particular programs. This helps gather data on what resources are needed to prep for the Fall semester (ie. what instruments are popular, how many sessions of a program are needed, etc.) 
      • Create a program brochure to hand out to parents – Design it with lots of pictures, describe core schedule, be sure to include contact information and print it at Staples

Example #2 – Have an exciting and fun summer camp!

“The goal is to create enough excitement during the summer so that they’ll want to come back in the Fall.”
Submitted by Mike Joyce, Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester
  • Extend membership periods (ie. allow parents to register for the Fall programming during the summer) 
  • Conduct outreach during the summer ie. social media, local papers, website. 
  • Conduct “inreach” – make sure other staff members are aware of your programming in the Fall – they can help spread the word too! 
  • Schedule orientation sessions and tours for families 
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