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5 Reasons Why Your Health Club Should Have Kids Camps

A family-friendly brand can reap dividends that can last years. Here’s how to create a successful kid-friendly program.

When building your membership base, you want to take advantage of every tool at your disposal. Among the broad range of club features available, one popular program that’s often overlooked is hosting kids camps.

Kids camps aren’t just popular with parents, they’re part of the solution in tackling the increase in obesity and sedentary behavior in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18.5% of U.S. children and adolescents between the ages of 5-19 were obese, affecting 13.7 million kids and teenagers. It should be part of the broad mission of the industry to help increase opportunities for children to exercise.

Of course, not every health club is an appropriate setting for children. Many fitness facilities have a strict no-children policy, but if you have a brand that’s family-focused and is open to children’s programs, you’ll find that kids clubs can be rewarding in many ways.

Kids camps are also consistent with the strategies outlined in IHRSA’s new publication, 230 Million by 2030. Despite recent events, the long-term growth of the health club market will depend on the industry embracing inclusivity and community. Kids camps do both.

According to 230 Million by 2030, these are examples of programs clubs have used to increase children’s exercise:

  • School partnership program
  • Nutrition and physical activity education program
  • Movement education program and sports-based program
  • Hosting a free play space for kids and teens
  • Recreation and socialization programs with a curriculum designed to foster learning from play.

Kids camps increase opportunities for collaboration with like-minded organizations. This helps you draw from a larger pool of recruits to turn your club into a thriving community center.

Creating Customers for Life from a Young Age

If you’re still on the fence, consider these five reasons to host kids camps.

  1. Kids camps fill the void created by the elimination of physical education programs. Many schools are either cutting back or eliminating physical education for their students. With kids camps, you not only provide much-needed exercise for children, you’re also often giving them specific skill-based training (e.g., tennis clubs, swim instruction, gymnastics camps, martial arts, or other progressive tutoring).
  2. You make it easier for busy parents to use your facility. Hosting kids camps keep parents from driving their kids to other locations, like nearby martial arts studios or local public pools. You’re keeping them at your location. Also, pickup and drop-off times usually coincide with peak workout hours, so parents often can work out while their children are at camps.
  3. You increase retention by making your club part of a family routine. Kids camps are a matter of routine, especially if your programs teach a progressive skill. Your club becomes “family time.” This helps increase participation and repeat visits, which is beneficial to all concerned.
  4. You can upsell products and services. You can offer a number of products and services, such as pre- and after-care, food and beverage services, branded apparel, equipment, etc.
  5. Kids camps help you maximize resources. Besides upselling, hosting kids camps can make use of space in your club that’s under-utilized. You may find that members of your staff may have skills that can be used to lead a class (such as a former cheerleader who can host cheer camps). With kids camps in place, you can also offer multiple packages and incentives to increase other revenue streams.

What’s important when offering kids camps is making it as easy as possible for parents to sign up their children for these programs. At the same time, you have to have a digital system in place for your club to schedule and manage camps. This is crucial when keeping kids safe and engaged while keeping parents happy.

A Digital Platform That Does It All

One digital supplier in the industry that has made managing kids camps their focus is Exerp. A leader in creating innovative and versatile digital products for large fitness chains and multipurpose clubs, Exerp is planning to roll out a robust, interactive tool this coming autumn that will make planning and managing kids camps easy for staff and parents alike.

The timing couldn’t be better. With busy parents wondering what the school year is going to look like as the COVID-19 crisis lingers, Exerp’s platform targeted toward creating kid-friendly programs will be a godsend for your health club members this fall.

Exerp’s employee and member solutions are intuitive and highly responsive. Their technology eliminates conflicts and redundancies, while providing a calendar with a high-level overview for scheduled programs. Because kids camps can be unpredictable in terms of popularity, your staff needs to be nimble in altering camp offerings. Exerp provides your staff with maximum flexibility in planning capability with plenty of safeguards, including strict role governance of designated staff who are allowed to access and override data.

Wellness and community programming children playing in kiddie pool unsplash stock column

Exerp makes registration as painless as possible for parents. It offers the following features:

  • A search function that makes it easy to find and schedule camps by names, dates, interests, and age levels.
  • Allows for easy booking for a full week or single days (along with easy management of the system, so clubs can open up single-day registration late in the process to maximize attendance).
  • Forms that use auto-populate so information is already provided (e.g., kid’s name, DOB, etc.).
  • Streamlined check-in/out process with waivers, missing information, signatures and/or photographs of authorized pickups. (Curbside check-in/out is great for parents in a hurry.)
  • Automated notifications when a child is dropped off and picked up.
  • Communication/messaging to parents on who the instructors are, what the kids are up to throughout the day, and the skills that the kids graduate from (if applicable).

Exerp empowers staff with simple, intuitive solutions to:

  • Manage kid/instructor ratios.
  • Monitor the sales funnel.
  • Run real-time attendance reports (in the event of emergencies or fire drills).
  • Digitally store and govern access to waivers, medical documentation, and emergency contact information. This can add up to huge cost savings when compared to printed paper.
  • Expose participants to as many activities as possible that your club provides (e.g., swimming, tennis, martial arts, educational classes, etc.) and inform parents what the kids loved best.

Exerp’s club management software is also able to communicate with multiple locations for chains of any size. Its CRM acts as a management and revenue engine, while simplifying the management needs of today’s complex facilities.

With its ability to help with kids camps and programming, you’ll be creating customers for life from a young age while delighting their parents at the same time.

Visit Exerp’s website to keep an eye out for the launch date of their upgraded platform. And while you’re there, check out their range of digital club management solutions and other innovative products for your club.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org