How to Explain Online Camp Registration to Your Camp Director

What’s the hardest part of rolling out new software? It’s not implementation or the cost of training.

The biggest challenge is getting your team to accept the change.

Let’s face it – we all get accustomed to the way we do things. This is true almost regardless how archaic or difficult they’ve become in light of better solutions. Simply put, change can be scary, and unless there’s a compelling reason for it, we don’t go out of our way to make it happen. 

This rings true for the camp industry in particular; change tends to come slowly. Many camps choose to utilize the same workflows year after year because it’s comfortable, and it works.

Until it doesn’t.

Technology is rapidly changing, and the truth is the right mix of technology can help your camp work smarter and more efficiently than ever.

Take a look at camp registration. The marketplace is flush with tools that can transform your registration and bring it into the 21st Century. An online platform can enable you to accept online forms and payments, deliver messaging to camp families in minutes and bring your camp into the 21st century.

And you don’t have to be a computer wizard to add these features. Today’s tools are designed for fast integration into your website.

In other words, technology won’t change your camp. But it will enhance the way you do business. And the benefits are clear: You’ll save time. You’ll increase the number of payment options you offer. Your camp forms will be returned faster. And you can do all this without investing in new equipment or expensive web development.

As a camp administrator, chances are, you recognize the impact online registration could have. You probably love the idea of saving time and increasing convenience for parents.

But now, you must get leadership to love the idea just as much as you do. So how can you go about gaining buy-in for new camp software? Here are a few tips and strategies for warming your camp director to the idea of new software.

camp registration tips

Fear of the Unknown: What Is Camp Registration Software?

Many camp directors are uneasy about a switch to online registration because they aren’t quite sure what it is. That’s understandable. It can sound complex, and make it seem like your camp is losing a bit of control.

As you seek to gain leadership support, part of your job will be calming these fears. Start by describing online registration in layman’s terms.

You might say something like: “Online camp registration will allow parents to register and pay for camp right on our website. Parents can click a link or create an account right on the registration page, without leaving the site. Once logged in, parents can then complete an application, register their camper for a specific session, and pay for camp.

You’ll also want to explain a bit of what goes on behind-the-scenes, and if you’re using a system like CampMinder, how online registration then ties into the rest of the system giving you a full picture of each camp and camp operations as a whole.

A great platform offers complete control over the process. You can customize your online forms so that they match your paper forms. And you control where those forms are routed once they’re complete, i.e. your registration database.

A Deeper Dive: Defining Online Summer Camp Registration

Software often seems more intimidating than it actually is. Why? Because these programs are often described with industry jargon.

Don’t let your pitch get bogged down with scary buzzwords. Instead, make those terms accessible for your camp director. A few terms you’re likely to come across include:

  • Parental Dashboard: The dashboard is essentially the parent’s created account. But it serves many purposes. Here, parents can complete registration tasks, like filling out forms and applications. They can receive notifications about important deadlines, access photos and newsletters, and schedule one-time or recurring payments.
  • SaaS (Software As A Service): Many camp registration programs are SaaS applications, which sounds like a term straight from the NASA handbook. But essentially, SaaS means the software is accessed online. Your camp can log in and can access your data any time, anywhere there is an internet connection – which is a key benefit of SaaS programs. Google Docs and Dropbox are examples of popular SaaS applications.
  • Automation: Automation is another scary buzzword. But it’s actually a key benefit of online registration software. Essentially, it’s the process of automating tasks that were previously done manually. For example, once a registration is complete, a record automatically gets stored in your registration database. Automation can reduce or eliminate the need for manual filing, communications, and/or reporting. And as we all know, time is money!
  • Form Builders: The best online registration tools allow you to build customized online forms. You do this with a form building tool. You can personalize the questions you ask and the drop-down answers for each option. Basically, form builders give you complete control over what you ask during registration.
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR): Parents can submit digital health records through online registration platforms. The good news: This data is protected. EHR data is secure and encrypted — that means the data is disguised as it’s transmitted and when stored in your database.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Want to analyze your registration data? Analytics tools allow you to crunch data quickly, which is another key benefit of online registration. Utilizing an analytics tool, you can also generate reports that include graphs and charts so you can visualize your data.

Making Your Case: Key Benefits of Online Camp Registration

You’ve explained the basic functionalities of online camp enrollment software and cleared up some common terms. But now’s the fun part; you get to showcase all the great things online registration can help you do.

And you can make a strong business case for using enrollment software because the benefits are so compelling. Key benefits include:

  • Cost Savings: Online registration software for camps saves costs in a few ways. No capital expenditures are required to upgrade equipment because it’s all online. There are typically no maintenance costs to update the latest version. No per registration fees. Plus, the time savings alone (i.e. no manual filing or data entry) contributes to camp overhead savings.
  • Improved Productivity: You can stop spending time storing and retrieving paper files. With online registration, your digital records are searchable at any time. Plus, these tools allow you to automate communications and reporting. Information will be at your fingertips.
  • Cleaner Data: Have you ever received a registration form that you just couldn’t read? Of course, you have! With digital records, your data is perfectly legible, all the time.
  • Payment Flexibility: Instantly add a full range of payment options. Use a wider list of promotional prices – for early bird registrants, for first-time campers, for multi-session discounts, etc. And allow parents to pay how they want, i.e. in installations, with auto debits, or paid in full.
  • Improved Security: If you’ve ever had a parent lose records or send to the wrong fax number, you know the risks of using these methods. With online registration, that data is secure. EHR files are protected by cutting-edge security measures, including advanced encryption and authentication.
  • Convenience: Online registration offers parents the ultimate convenience. They can complete forms and registration wherever and whenever they want. No need to print forms and mail them in. Meaning you’re more likely to get the forms you requested back on time.
  • Robust Reporting: You don’t need to master spreadsheet formulas and complex math problems to find answers from your data. With online reporting tools, you can segment, analyze and find information faster. Create reports in minutes and use what you learn to make data-driven decisions.
  • Smarter Marketing: An online summer camp registration platform can energize your marketing efforts. Your messages will be more personal, you can segment your audience by a range of variables (i.e. # of sessions, # of campers, etc.) and you can deliver messages seamlessly through the parental dashboard.

Going Paperless: What Online Registration Looks Like

Another reason directors might be hesitant to adopt a new technology: They can’t visualize how the process will look. Play tour guide! Walk them through the process and show off the key points of the user experience. For example, your registration might look like:

  • Account Creation: When parents navigate to the registration page on your website, they’ll be prompted to create an account. Even though they’re using third-party software, the account registration form will look like it’s a part of your website.
  • Application/Registration: If your camp uses an initial application, you can build a digital version, which parents will be prompted to complete. After the application, parents may then register their child(ren) for a specific session(s), as well as begin adding additional registration information. Prompts to fill out forms, to add a payment method or update contact information will be sent to them via their account.
  • Enrollment: You have the control to set enrollment parameters. First, you’ll want to set quotas for the available number of spots in each session. This will prevent over-enrollment. Additionally, you might choose to close enrollment, allowing your staff to conduct interviews or manually enroll students. Or you might choose to allow parents to enroll their kids on their own once registration is complete.
  • Payments: Parents can personalize payments to meet their needs. First, they’ll add a preferred payment method. Then, they’ll be prompted to pay a required deposit. Finally, they can determine how they will pay, i.e. automatic debits, in installations or pay in full.
  • During Camp: The accounts that parents create during registration become their portal into camp during summer. Here, they can access photos, newsletters and email letters to their campers. Plus, some platforms even allow campers to respond with a handwritten note that is uploaded into the parent portal for them to read.
  • Post-Camp Marketing: In the fall, winter, and spring, you can reach families through their existing accounts. This helps you rollout early-bird campaigns, referral promotions and camp improvement surveys.

Ultimately, the best way to visualize the digital enrollment process is during a live demo. The best summer camp software providers offer a free demonstration, which can be a powerful tool to help you make your case to your camp director.

Working Smarter With Online Camp Registration Software

It might be easy for you to see the value of online camp registration tools, but it’s your job to gain buy-in with your team and with leadership.

This starts with providing a clear overview of what registration software is, how it works, and the key benefits. Finally, you’ll want to walk them through a mock registration or live demo.

The good news: A strong business case can be made for updating how your register campers.

A web-based platform will help you save money, improve your productivity and security, and help you better serve your camp families. Bottom line: it will make your life easier and help your camp run more efficiently. And what camp director doesn’t want that?