While we usually think of summer as “time off,” it’s actually a great occasion to flex your creativity muscles. That’s right – theatre camps will reap major rewards if you invest the right amount of time and energy into them. On The Stage presents seven things you shouldn’t skip before and during your summer programming

7 Ways to Maximize Success at Your Theatre Camp   

Find a Strong Summer Camp Theme

There are a variety of great themes you can choose for your summer camp. (Psst, if you need some ideas, On The Stage’s Guides to Summer Success have a wide array.)

While you may want to go with the most attention-grabbing or flashy theme, there are several things to consider before landing on one in particular. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your program’s biggest needs? Think about what areas of your program need improvement or expansion. Do you struggle with technology, choreography, acting, or something else in particular? Consider creating a theme that helps you strengthen those areas. 
  • What is most interesting to your campers? If you want to draw a big crowd, make sure you’re appealing to your core demographic. 
  • What is the general skill level of your campers? Your theme should be age- and skill-appropriate. 
  • What are the strengths of your leadership team? Make sure your theme and programming play to the strengths of yourself and other employees/volunteers of the camp.  
  • What does the future of your program look like? Design your camp curriculum to align with the content of future theatre showcases.

Get Your Administrative Ducks in a Row

We know, we know – the admin portion of camp is boooooring. But getting all the back-end details secured early will make camp run so much smoother. A few things you’ll need to do before launching marketing efforts for your camp include:

  • Securing your location, dates, and times: The earlier the better on this one, so you can avoid conflicts with other summer offerings in the community. 
  • Creating detailed daily schedules: The last thing you want is a group of campers with no real itinerary. Make sure you have detailed plans for each day of camp, with specific activities and goals. 
  • Getting staff lined up: Your theatre camp won’t be possible without volunteers or staff to help you run it. Make sure you’re recruiting these folks long before camp registration opens. 
  • Gathering the necessary supplies: Whether that’s snacks, props, set pieces, costumes, or whatever else you need, make a list and make sure you have what you need. 
  • Determine your pricing: Is your pricing reasonable? Is it structured well? Is it competitive? Do some research and comparisons to other camps in the area. 
  • Securing transportation: If you plan on taking field trips or transporting campers at all, getting the right permission slips and vehicles is paramount. 

Balance Entertainment and Education 

Summer theatre camps are a great opportunity for campers to explore creativity and improve their general skills, all while having fun. But you need to plan accordingly to ensure the camp is engaging, entertaining and educational – not just one (or two) of the three.

A few ways to keep your programming dynamic include: 

  • Incorporating exercises and activities that help campers develop their theatre skills. Consider voice and movement exercises and scene work. 
  • Creating camaraderie and icebreaker games to make people feel comfortable with each other. 
  • Bringing in guests performers or experts for certain days/times during camp 
  • Offering both indoor and outdoor locations for different exercises 

Incorporate Technology 

It’s no secret that technology is integral to modern-day theatre. So, utilizing tech on both the front and back ends of your programming can create a strong camp experience for everyone. A few ways to utilize technology include:

  • Creating a camp website. Your camp should have its own portal that’s easily accessible and intuitive. OTS offers an easy-to-use website builder, where you’ll have everything your campers and their parents need to know front and center. These should include camp dates, pricing, a listing of activities, general themes, etc. 
  • Utilizing video production elements. During camp itself, you can create a more interesting experience by bringing video production into the picture. Consider a day where campers make a short film and work with editing/production software. 
  • Utilizing lighting and sound design elements. Your theatre camp shouldn’t just be for actors. Make sure you’re appealing to those on the back end of theatre productions – lighting and sound technicians, stage managers, etc. 

Prioritize Marketing and Fundraising

Marketing and fundraising for your camp should be major priorities before enrollment begins. After all, early marketing can help you secure resources for your program – whether that be funding, volunteers, or equipment … all of which can be in high demand in the summer.

Start marketing your summer theatre camp as early as possible to maximize interest and attendance. Utilize school newsletters, social media, fliers, email lists, community partners, and local media outlets. 

You should also plan early for summer fundraising ideas – everything from car washes to talent shows will work to secure money for your camp. If you’re looking for inspiration, the Summer Fundraising Ideas Infographic can help. 

Engage Feeder Schools Before Camp Enrollment

Your programming won’t succeed if you’re not able to scout out campers and get their interest prior to enrollment. A great way to find potential campers is through engaging with feeder schools in your community. 

If you’re not familiar with the term, a feeder school is an institution from which many or most students progress to a particular higher-level educational institution. (Think elementary and middle schools in your area.) The students at these feeder schools could be the future of your program – your next potential pool of actors and crew members if you’re at a school yourself. So, creating and maintaining relationships with these institutions is important. 

Young actors (and their parents, too) are always looking for things to do in the warmer months. Capitalize on that open market by engaging with these kids prior to summer. 

Engaging feed school students to become your campers can look like:

  • Hosting acting/dancing/technical workshops
  • Creating open house events where interested campers can visit 
  • Hosting multi-age talent shows
  • Scheduling field trips with feeder schools to tour your amenities 

Create a Summer Showcase for Your Campers

Last, but not least, remember that this camp is all about the campers. Hosting a final performance is a great way to prove that. 

Consider a showcase of scenes or monologues, or even a film screening if your programming allows it. This will help your campers feel accomplished and will also show parents what you’ve been working on. This, in turn, will surely impress – leading to more loyal patrons and campers down the line. 

On The Stage Can Help

Whether you are a drama teacher, involved in community theatre, or work at a theatre company, On The Stage’s informative guides can provide you with all the essential knowledge to organize a successful summer program.

If you’re looking for a partner to help elevate your summer camps, book a personalized demo with On The Stage to get started today!

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