Get Kids to Go to Band Camp with a Band Camp Launch Day!

This article contains ideas about how to increase the number of students you have attending band camp this year.  You must educate parents and students about what is available to them over the summer.  A band camp “Launch Day” is a great way to do that.

*Be sure of your district rules about ‘endorsing’ a band camp. Choosing one camp to recommend is a great idea – especially if you have one particular one you work closely with and really believe in. However, don’t get yourself in trouble recommending one if the district has a policy against it. Some districts might have a policy where you can recommend if a parent asks you. If you can’t recommend a particular camp, you can recommend ‘band camp’ in general and tell the parents to do research before choosing.

Parent emails
Send out an email as soon as possible with basic information about benefits of band camp. Give them the date for a parent meeting if you are going to have one.

Put up posters around the band hall.  On the walls, classroom doors, office doors, practice room doors etc. These can be posters from the camps, signs about benefits of camp, signs like “Who will be at band camp in June?”, Top 10 lists, and/or include reviews from students that have attended.

Put up signs about Top 10 Reasons to Go to Band Camp (Make them unique to your local camp.)
Some examples:
– You improve about a months worth in 5 days
– You will meet friends from all over that also love band
– You will get to learn from the BEST teachers in the state!
– Tons of fun activities including movie night, band camp ball…
– Play really fun music and give a great concert
– Activities center with basketball, swimming, racquetball, bowling!
– Stay in a dorm and see what college is like
-Get away from your brothers and sisters for a week!

Put up a sign up sheet with kids names that are attending when they turn in forms for camp.  If the kids send in their forms directly to the camp, you could ask the kids to bring a note from their parents that it was mailed in with payment and then add their name. When kids start seeing their friend’s names on the signup they get excited about going.

Have one official ”Launch Day” when you talk with the kids at length about camp.
Depending on how much you know about the camp (if you’ve taught there, taken lots of kids etc.) it may take most of the class period.  If there are kids that have gone before they can come talk to the younger kids. You can read testimonials from older students that went to camp.

Launch Day Topics:

  • Where is it? Which camp do you recommend – where is it located?
  • What is their day like at camp? What classes do they have? Who teaches them? What will they learn in each class? What do they do for food? What do they do for fun activities?
  • How do the final concerts work? (Fun music, learned quickly and performed at the end)
  • What kinds of friends will they make? (Talk about how everyone at band camp loves band.  If there are kids that come from all over the state, country, world talk about that.)
  • Supplies – What kind of supplies, clothes, money etc do they take with them?
  • Transportation – Do they drive in every day or stay on campus? Is there a school bus shuttle available? Or carpooling? If they stay on campus, talk a lot about the dorms and how fun that is and how they have people (resident assistants) that take care of them.
  • Independence – What do they get to do on their own time at camp? Do they get to pick an ‘elective’? Do they get free time to hang out on campus?
  • How will this benefit them for the next year? (Kids that don’t play in the summer come back a worse player, kids that play and go to band camp come back better players.)
  • How this can benefit them long term?
  • Emphasize how fun it is and how they will be better players.

What to give out on Launch Day
Give every child a packet with a cover letter about benefits of band camp & deadlines, band camp application, scholarship application (if you have one) and anything else you think is applicable. I think giving them the form is much more helpful than just sending them to a website. If you recommend more than one camp, include as much info as possible and maybe benefits of each camp. Try to have the cover letter be on bright colored paper where it will be noticed and not lost.

Scholarship applications
If you have band camp scholarships – or can figure out a way to get a couple (full or partial) – sending home scholarship application forms the day of the launch is a great way to increase interest. (Be sure you are aware of district policy on scholarships/partial scholarships.)

Parent meeting
Have a parent meeting the same week as you do the launch with the kids.  Get the kids pumped up so they will get their parents to the meeting. At the meeting give out as much information as possible. Have extra copies of the packet you gave the kids as well as tryout music if possible. Give the parents a similar talk as to the one you give the kids, but with more emphasis on the safety of the camp. (Be sure you know about the camp so they will trust you on the safety.  And obviously, only recommend camps you know are good for the kids.)

Things to emphasize with parents (preferably at a meeting – if not, then by email)

  • Educational benefits
  • Safety of the camp
  • Encourages independence (especially if students are staying away from home)
  • Nice ‘vacation’ for parents
  • Email you with questions about if camp would be a good fit for their child

Get your staff on board
If you have a private lesson staff or other directors that interact with your kids, be sure they are talking about camp as well.  Let them know which camp or camps you encourage kids to go to and ask that they mention camp to the students and parents when possible.

After Launch Day
Try to mention band camp daily or every few days. If someone turns in a form make a big deal about it. As you working on things in class mention how they will learn more about that at band camp. At the spring concert mention it in your announcements to the parents. After the spring concert talk about how much fun concerts are and how band camp is a great chance to learn music quickly and give a concert. Make it a ‘band camp friendly’ climate in your band hall by talking about it a lot. 

If it’s your first year to do this and you only have a few kids go – that’s ok!  It’s a start. Then next year use those kids to help get more kids to go.  If you haven’t been a part of a band camp personally, become invested in a camp. You being a part of a camp can make a huge difference in how excited the kids and parents get about sending their kids.

Also, If you’ve never done anything like this it will be a bit of work the first year.  However, you can reuse most of the information year after year. So save everything and pull it out again next year!

Related Reading:
Middle School Solos – Tried & True Favorites
Key Signature Chant
4 Clarinet Hacks – Better Clarinets in 30 Seconds

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