6. Publicize the program.
Publicizing your program is an important step that shouldn't be overlooked. It is easy to become so involved in the logistical duties of planning any kind of camp that you overlook recruiting and public relations--a pity, because promoting your efforts can be fun. There are a number of places you can advertise your program. The most established are your standard mailings to organizations and previous campers. When you update your brochures, don't forget to highlight your new Internet activities. The local newspaper is another good place to start promoting your program; most have a section that lists upcoming events--often providing the listing without charge. The deadline for these listings can be several weeks before the publication date, so plan ahead. Even a thirty-five word blurb on page 27 of the last section will get the word to someone you need to reach. A sample of a short news announcement follows.
Sample News Blurb
DO-IT in the News
High School sophomores with disabilities who have a knack for numbers, neutrons and the like are invited to apply to a unique program through the University of Washington.
Now in its second year, DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) uses home computers and electronic mail to link talented high school students year-round with each other and to others around the world. Students also attend two weeks on the UW campus in Seattle in the summer. Call 206-685-DOIT for information.
Radio stations also provide the same kinds of services, and a call to the station will get you the information you need for providing text or a taped message. If you work with special populations, you may be more likely to get a promotional spot free or at a reduced rate. When you call radio, TV, or newspapers, let them know who comes to your camp and make sure that you show your enthusiasm during the conversation. The people you talk to may want to send their kids, or they may want to volunteer their time or services. Find the team member who likes to speak to groups and book him or her to present at school or civic functions. Often organizations like the Rotary Club or the Jaycees sponsor luncheons with featured speakers. Your representative can talk about your camp and explain how you plan to add Internet activities to the curriculum. You can do the same kind of thing at school sponsored meetings or neighborhood gatherings. These kinds of speaking engagements can be formal or informal, and they provide an excellent forum for your camp.
If you have a team full of people who are afraid of public speaking, now is a good time for them to gain some valuable experience. Start with smaller, informal settings, and work your way to the big meetings. Preparation, enthusiasm, and practice are all it takes to sell your camp via the public speaking route. And, don't forget to bring handouts to distribute to the group; encourage them to spread the word in their schools and communities. Who knows, someone may be impressed enough to donate money to your cause.
The sample speech that follows is an example of a short talk appropriate for a group like the Jaycees. The speaker is interested in telling the audience about the new Internet activities that will be introduced in his camp. The format is relaxed and informal. The use of visual aids will help the audience more fully appreciate the message because they can both hear and see it.
Sample Speech Text for Speaking to the Masses
Using a visual aid listing the title of your speech, your name, and your affiliation will get you off to a good start. A visual aid showing examples of the Internet sites your campers will be visiting would also enhance your presentation.
Good morning. I'm John Smith from Camp Does A Lot, and I thank you for inviting me to speak to you about our summer programs. We appreciate how much the Jaycees have done for our camp in the past, and we want to introduce you to one of our most exciting new additions-Internet activities.
Remember when you were ten and you and all your pals packed your new stuff into overstuffed packs in preparation for the bus ride to camp? You were sure you would be the best cowboy of the bunch, but you were a little worried about learning to sail. And your older brother didn't help when he kept telling you that the boat would sink and you would flap around until some girl had to save you.
Well Camp Does A Lot does still teach horseback riding, and we do also teach sailing; and no one has suffered long-term humiliation from either activity yet. But this year we are introducing an exciting new activity: We are offering Internet classes for both young novice computer users (probably users like us only younger), and advanced classes (probably best suited for people like your ten year old, who knew enough about technology to reinstall all your software after you inadvertently deleted it).
The novice Internet classes will cover basic tools, interesting educational sites, and helpful search techniques. The advanced class will learn how to design great Web pages, and their finished product, the camp home page, will be proof of all they learned about design, linking, team work, and deadlines.
As you can see from these examples, our campers will learn valuable skills, but they will learn through a fun camping experience. They will come home with the usual memories of camp food, bug bites, and new friends, but they will also have worked in teams to learn lessons that will serve them at home and at school, as well as in their future when they join the work force.
Thank you for allowing me to give you a preview of the future of summer camps as we at Camp Does A Lot envision it. I'll leave camp brochures and applications for you. I'll be happy to answer any of your questions. Please help us spread the word about this great program.
And don't forget to publicize the success of campers after the program is complete. Let them share their stories in presentations or in your newsletter. For example, Camp Courage in Minnesota offers a 10-day program on Internet use and college preparation for teenagers (See Case Study #6). In the following newsletter article a camper shares her insights.
Sample Camp Article The Voice of a Camper
Experiences from Camp
This was my first year ever at Camp Courage. I enjoyed it a lot. Here at camp, we do everything from horseback riding to surfing the Net. It was really fun and interesting. Every day here was different because the counselors plan different activities every day. It was impossible to get bored. My favorite activities here were the Talent Show and chatting on the Global Chat service. My friend's favorite activities were swimming in the pool and walking on the paths through the woods.
Camp Courage is not like any other camp you've been to. Everyone there is disabled from things like Cerebral Palsy to blindness. In fact Camp Courage is the only one of its kind in the entire U.S. Last year, three brand new cabins were built with money donated from companies like TCF Banking. The cabins are like mini resorts rather than cabins.
Camp Courage is located on Cedar Lake. We tube and swim on that too. If you like to help people or if you want to be a camper at some summer camp, you should definitely look into Camp Courage.
Now that you've thought through the process, it's time for you to "do it" for your camp. Answer these questions:
- Who can form our instructional and technical team?
- What should be our instructional goals? What campers should we serve with this program? What materials should we use and what activities should we offer?
- What facility, computer, and software should we use? How can we secure the room, equipment, and software we need?
- How can we obtain access to the Internet for our program?
- How can we best integrate the Internet offering into other camp activities?
- How can we publicize the program and recruit campers?
The following template can be used to help you "do it." The case studies that follow give you examples of how other camps have done it. For more information about these and other Internet camps in which DO-IT has been involved, consult www.washington.edu/doit/Programs/camps.html.