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Summer Dance Camp: What works?

Are you thinking about starting a new summer dance program? Have you struggled with enrollment in the past? Half-day, all-day, mornings or evenings; there are several options for designing your studio's summer camp, but what works best?

Unfortunately, there is no "one-size-fits-all" recommendation to make. However, this blog will provide you with ideas to help increase the success of your summer dance program.

1) Poll your clients.

The simplest way to figure out when to hold classes is by asking your clients. Send out a quick SurveyMonkey or Google Form to narrow down general times and dates. Also, be mindful of the other camps occurring in your area (soccer, swim lessons, surf school, vacation bible school, volleyball, etc.). I'm not saying you need to plan your schedule around others, but do a little research so your camp doesn't land on the exact dates when 60% of your student population is out on a Girl Scout retreat.

What works best for me:

Shorter evening classes that run for one week a month work best for my studio. Why? With shorter sessions, there are fewer conflicts with other summer camp operations. A week-long class isn't a huge commitment. Families like to travel to the cabin on the weekend without having to work around a schedule. Parents still work during the day. Not all child care facilities will allow a week-long absence so the child can attend your camp. Finally, a day-long program can be more expensive in employment and material costs making it less profitable.

2) Offer something new and different.

Often times students have scheduling conflicts, are limited financially or don't want to commit to a full year in a new genre. Whatever the limitation might be, summertime should be a time for students to diversify, explore and grow. Here are a couple of options to switch up a "standard" class and make it more intriguing for a summer class:

- Provide a class on a new dance genre

-Allow more room for student creativity and/or choreography

-Learn stylized movement you don't typically use during a regular year

3) Have a theme.

If one of the above options doesn't work for you, try planning your summer camp around a theme. The added variety will create a spark of fun and intrigue that will get your clients enrolling. Pro tip: The Dollar Store has great accessories to decorate and transform your classroom.

Theme options:

Shimmer and Shine, Glamorous Under the Sea Fairy-tales

Villains and Superheros Jungle Beach

Snow & Ice/Winter Activities Camping Circus

Mystery Detectives Sports Pop Stars

If you would like more assistance with theme planning, check out the "Behind the Teaching" area of our website. Select camp ideas are listed and include music play lists, activity highlights and class descriptions for several ages and genres.

4) Provide an opportunity to perform at community events.

An extra opportunity to perform is always a fun incentive to increase registration. Bonus: It's free advertisement for fall classes!

5) Keep classes 30-45 minutes long.

Shorter classes are better for your financial overhead. You'll be able to serve more students the more classes you have.

6) Build community by grouping students with a larger age range and ability level together.

Typically enrollment is lower in the summer months. By combining similar ages and levels, you will not only increase the probability for full class sizes, but you will grow a sense of community within your school. Younger students look up to the older students and their abilities. Older students can build confidence and leadership skills working with younger students. Providing these character-developing opportunities will help your students grow and strengthen their investment in your studio.

If you desire your newly established summer program to be successful with high enrollment, the best advice a person can give is to figure out what the majority of your clients prefer and make the most of it. Keep in mind that what works one year might not have the same outcome the following year, so it is important to be flexible. Over time it will grow and change until you figure out what works best for your niche.


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