5 Things I Learned When I Started a Summer Camp

This year I started a business that began with the idea of finding as many ways to present financial literacy to kids in elementary and middle school as I can. I wasn’t, and currently am not, fully aware of all the places this company will go. At the time I DID know I wanted to start a summer camp around this financial literacy concept with a few basic economics facts thrown in too. 

Once I found and was approved for a venue I had two weeks left to do some serious marketing. I had already started throwing the idea around out there, just putting out feelers, but now I had two weeks to seriously gather up some campers and get this started! 

The camp did not fill to capacity or exceed expectations (or even really meet them), BUT I learned so so so much and feel like it was a big success. Here’s why. 

1. Just go for it

I had an idea and I went for it. It was just a concept and I took it and created a whole curriculum and marketed it and had campers all but one week of this summer camp. It was 100% my baby from start to finish and I didn’t kill it. Not only did I not kill it, it thrived and I had campers asking to return. This taught me that the saying “everything we want is on the other side of fear” is such a powerful statement. If there’s something you’re wanting to start or do, just go for it and see where it takes you.

2. Self-discovery

I discovered new things about myself that helped me realize new potential. Starting a new business and having a whole world of mostly unknowns in front of you kind of feels like being thrown in the deep end of a pool. The more I learn along the way, the more I realize how much more I’m capable of. This on the job self-discovery is so important for success because it encourages you to move forward.

3. Keep your overhead low

Hiring an intern was a life-saver for my summer camp. Had I hired a full-staff I would have been paying them out of my own pocket. This was a new concept that hadn’t been tried before so I had no idea what level of revenue I would receive. I posted this opportunity for local college students looking for a summer internship and I found the most amazing intern. She was so ready to learn, needed the school credit, and saw it as a unique opportunity to grow. An option for interns is to pay a stipend which is what I opted for since I didn’t have a proven track record of profit to validate setting a wage. In the end it kept my overhead low and prevented me from going into the red. I also did other small things like snack planning for the week and reusable dishes/cups/utensils that helped with daily cost. It all adds up!

4. Word of mouth marketing works

When deciding how to market this concept, I wasn’t sure which one would be the best for Money Lit. I see billboards all over town for summer camps, yard signs, banners, flyers. While you do have to spend money to make money, I wanted to make sure my marketing avenue made sense and was reasonably affordable. I looked into the cost of different options and decided that I would go with word of mouth via social media and passing out flyers and see how that worked out for this first summer. I also had a couple of churches post it in their bulletins. Each avenue worked. I had had campers register from organic social media posts, the church announcements, and flyer posts.

5. Redefine Success

Money Lit’s first summer camp didn’t fill to the potential I hoped or planned for. I still call it a success. Why is that? I planned, marketed, had staff that were well managed and did a great job, had campers that had fun and want to come back, learned more about my community, learned more about marketing, and learned more about myself, and even though I didn’t make a profit I also didn’t go into the red. I know exactly where I will take this over the next year to be ready for next summer. Bring on Money Lit Summer Camp 2020.

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