You own a martial arts school because you’re passionate about martial arts and how it changes lives. But we also know you need to run your school as a business in order to keep doing what you love. For that reason, we bring up the financial value of a martial arts student.
When you think about the value of a single student, you think about things like their ability to refer other students, the average dollar amount they will spend on equipment and special clinics, and how long they will be a student at your school. In all aspects, school-age kids win. Hands down, they are the most valuable students.
Once a child signs up for martial arts, it’s only a matter of time before the other children in their family do too. It’s also possible that one or both parents will join them as students. And when you hook a school-age kid in martial arts, you’ll likely have a student for life.
One of the best ways to get kids into your martial arts school is with a camp. Camps give kids the opportunity to have fun and see what martial arts is all about. With spring break right around the corner, it’s a great time to hold a camp for kids in your area. It’s not hard to do, and if you start the planning process now, you’ll be ready for the group of students you’re sure to enroll.
To help you launch a camp this spring break, we’ve outlined the step-by-step process for planning one below.
Plan the Week
Start the planning process by selecting the dates for your camp. If you’re not already connected to local elementary and middle schools, this is a great time to start working with them. Check out your school district’s calendar on their website for the dates their students will be out for the break.
Once you have the dates set, you’ll want to plan the curriculum and activities for the week. Have fun with this process and be as creative as you want to be. If you have an involved team, invite them to a planning meeting and solicit their ideas.
You need to decide if you’ll host a full or half-day camp. If you plan to run camp for the full day, still give parents the option to enroll their child in only half of the day. Ideally you’ll schedule your camp in two blocks so that parents can choose the schedule that works best for them.
Full day participants should bring a sack lunch for the midday break. If students plan to only attend a half-day session, they can choose to stay later or come in earlier for the hour of lunch. Here’s an example:
1st Session: 9:00 am -12:00 pm
Lunch: 12:00-1:00 pm (For full day students, optional for half-day campers)
2nd Session: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
(Each session would have an individual cost, or parents could choose the combined full day cost if their children attended both sessions)
You might want to offer before and after care for an extra fee, or just offer early drop-off and late pick up on a complimentary basis. As you think through this process, try to be as helpful for parents as you can. Of course, you don’t want to create policies that hurt your business. But if you can accommodate parents and make this camp easy for them, you’ll end up with more attendees.
It’s great to have a daily theme to keep your students excited. One of our favorite themes is Star Wars, especially with its returning popularity. You can have a craft session with the kids in the morning and make light sabers. Then you can teach them “sword skills” with their light sabers in the afternoon session. Other theme ideas include wacky sock day, school spirit day, pirate or under the sea day, favorite movie day, and so on.
After you pick your themes, you’ll want to plan out each day’s activities in 1-2 hour time blocks. Your camp is a great opportunity to show kids how much fun they can have while learning new things. To get your ideas flowing, consider your basic martial arts and self-defense skills, as well as life skills, group games, and bully prevention workshops. You can also hold proficiency or skill tests and award badges or certificates. Finally, plan to provide snacks, water, and juice for your students too.
As you plan your activity blocks, be sure to plan your staffing. The worst-case scenario is that you end up not having enough coverage for all you want to do. But if you plan your staffing in conjunction with your events, you’ll be set up to pull your camp off without a hitch.
Consider your reservation and payment policy for the camp in advance. Most schools take a deposit and require a short application to assess each child’s needs, abilities, and interests. It’s a good idea to offer some promotions too.
Offer a discount off your basic camp tuition for additional children in a family. Another fun promotion is a free uniform with paid-in-full camp tuition. That way your students have their uniform, and it will help make them want to come back for classes after the camp is over.
You should also consider offering a regular program enrollment discount for camp students who want continue with classes at your school. For example, you could offer a new student the first month free if they enroll for a minimum of six months.
To keep the process of tracking registrations and payments manageable, you should use student management software. Software ensures things are well organized. Registrations, payments and any associated discounts will post directly to the correct accounts, which will help with reporting and communications. You’ll also get paid quicker too, and you’ll have all this data in your student accounts so it’s seamless to transition campers into long term students.
Promote Your Camp
Next you’ll want to start advertising your camp. Create promotional flyers and post them around your school. Be sure to have flyers at the front desk so students and parents can see them when they check-in for classes. Take flyers to local kid-friendly places, like frozen yogurt stores or skating rinks. You can also ask your school contacts to share them with parents and students.
Advertise your camp in your monthly newsletter or by automated email using your student management software. Be sure to promote your event on social media and your website too. One great way to promote your camp on Facebook is by creating an official event. Doing this allows you to invite your page followers with a single click and automatically send out event reminders.
Finally, create a list of students to invite personally. This is the best way to sign students up for your camp. You can either talk to parents when they come into your school for regular classes or call or email them. At the very least, invite your students when their parents are with them because parents will usually encourage their kids to attend.
Rally Your Team
You’ll also want to get your team excited about the event. A large part of your event’s success will rest on their buy in, so take the time to include them in the process. Once they are enthusiastic about the upcoming camp, encourage them to invite and enroll students. Have them announce the camp before all their classes and mention it to parents as they come in to drop off and pick up their kids.
Camps are one of the best ways to attract news students and grow your martial arts school. The steps we outlined may seem like a lot of work, but they’re not. You can accomplish all that planning in a few short hours. From there, advertising your camp is just an ongoing thing. One great aspect of this planning process is that you’ll end up with a template you can use again and again for other camps.
Looking for additional ways to continuously bring in more white belts and grow your school? We’ve gathered some of the best lessons for building a long-lasting school in our guide, “How to Run a Successful Martial Arts School.” Get your copy of this informative free guide today!