Camp Awakening is an integrated, outdoor recreation program for youth ages 9-18 with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and muscular dystrophy. It operates out of two mainstream summer camps in Ontario – Kilcoo Camp for boys and Camp Oconto for girls.
In the spring of 2011, Camp Awakening approached Endeavour for help with their marketing strategy. Camp Awakening was not filling their camp capacity – they felt their camp program to be strong, but not enough people knew about it. With only one full-time staff member and a small advertising budget, their marketing resources were limited. Camp Awakening needed a new recruitment and communications strategy.
Endeavor first analyzed the current state of Camp Awakening and completed a competitive analysis. This included interviewing board members, campers, and reviewing competitors and how they recruit campers. Next, Endeavour identified target groups for Camp Awakening and developed a target camper profile. Program recommendations were created to help guide Camp Awakening with programming that differentiates them from other camps that provide such experiences to youth with physical disabilities. This was vetted through focus groups and surveys involving campers and parents.
Endeavour provided Camp Awakening with program recommendations and a high level road map that was used to inform their strategic plan. Endeavour’s specific program recommendations were focused on:
- Developing a pilot youth leadership development (YLD) program
- Promoting inclusive practices
- Establishing a process for monitoring and evaluation.
“Endeavour pointed us in a better direction towards program ideas that kids are looking for…It ended up being the right thing at the right time for us.”
Since the initial consultation in 2011, Camp Awakening adapted and shifted their strategic plan to: 1. Create innovative and integrated in-camp and year round programs; 2. Increase their presence as a leading provider of integrated outdoor recreation for youth with physical disabilities; and 3. Strengthen organizational capacity. In 2012, they partnered with the March of Dimes to create a youth leadership development retreat for 19-24 year olds. This has now been operating for three years out of YMCA Geneva Park and is very successful. Inclusion practices are an important part of the camp with a lot more training on informal inclusion. Recruitment grew thanks to the YLD leadership program as well as in-camp leadership development for teen campers. They now serve a more diverse age groups of campers.
“One of the best things to come out working with Endeavour was not only a fresh perspective but a new lens on many of the issues we’ve been working to resolve for a long time.”
“In my experience when you do work with consulting groups, a lot of it is theoretical, and not practical. With Endeavour you get an actual tool that tells you how to do it as opposed to what to do which is especially important when you are a very small organization.”
How did Endeavour do?
Endeavour provided “affirmation and reassurance that we’re on the right track and their high level road map gave concrete and practical examples of what we can do with very limited funding.”
“Even if the report provided had not been practical and implementable, it was helpful to go through this exercise with a group of people who brought an outside perspective and asked great questions.”
“It’s a lot of work and a big time commitment for a single person organization so this was an amazing opportunity for us to interact with a whole team of experienced volunteers and accomplish stuff we could never accomplish on our own.”