“8 Small Busines Social Media Tips from the Pros” – a great resource for camps, too!

This morning, I took a break from sifting through the MANY emails about our new website (glad you’re all logging on and checking things out, by the way… I hope you like what you see!) to read this great little article from the Social Media Examiner on how to create an engaging social media page (be it Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube) for your small business — or in most of your cases, for your camp.

You know I’ve been harping on all of you to get into social networking more. Summer camp is built on young people. They’re your campers and they’re your staff. Chances are, they want to stay connected with you, and newsletters through the mail might not be the best way to reach this audience.

Social media can be a powerful tool to generate support for your camp. And it can be really easy. Feel free to contact me if you need any help!

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Birch Bay Ranch: CCI/Canada’s Camp Video Contest Winner – December!

Congratulations, Birch Bay Ranch! Your winter wonderland video was the winner of this month’s video contest!

Check out the video in all its festive glory:

Most kids who attend camp have no clue what happens at camp over the wintertime. They don’t know what it looks like or what kinds of activities are offered. A video like this can help connect your camp to its supporters all winter long.

We loved the rustic scenes shown in this video: a wintry barnyard complete with an assortment of farmyard animals, sleigh rides, a lodge all decorated for Christmas banquets and parties, a crackling fire… doesn’t it just make you want to drink hot cocoa and listen to Christmas carols?

We still want to see more winter camp videos! Your video can be as simple as a little tour of your facilities in wintertime. If your camp is on, say, the West Coast of British Columbia, where there’s little to no snow, your video can be tongue-in-cheek!

Send all video submissions to Deanna at communicate@cci-canada.ca!

Photos from CCI/Canada’s 2011 Executive Leadership Conference: Moving Forward!

It’s the third day of the Executive Leadership Institute in Muskoka, and everyone is having a really great time. CCI conferences are always a great time to network and share with others. Plus there’s a lot to learn on how to move forward with your ministry this year.

I’ll leave this quick post with a few photos of our participants.

 

Here’s a shot of some conference participants listening to Jim Cantelon, founder of VISIONLEDD and host of 100 Huntley Street. I’m sure they’re learning a lot!

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And here’s our keynote speaker, Ron den Otter speaking on Building Healthy Organizations.

Ron den  Otter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, I’ll leave you with a photo of our participants enjoying a great time of worship.

worship

Wintertime news from CCI/Canada

November is almost half over already, and many of us are getting ready to deck the halls. How is your camp doing at the start of this winter season? What are some of the programs or activities you offer at your camp or conference center during the wintertime?

Speaking of wintertime, I wanted to tell you about the rules for next month’s video contest! I’ve really enjoyed watching all of the videos of your camps’ awesome summer programs, but now that the temperature is falling (at least here in Alberta) and some of us are starting to see snow, I’m really interested in what your camp looks like in the wintertime! I want to see what activities you offer, and whether you decorate for Christmas, and how your onsite staff deal with the chill and snow!

Our Winter Video Contest will run for the next three months (or until I change my mind!), so get out there with your camera, camp friends! As usual, videos can be sent to me at communicate@cci-canada.ca.

Now, November doesn’t just mean first snowfalls and and falling temperatures. It also means that the Executive Leadership Institute is upon us! We are so excited to see all of you on November 21st. We’ve got the whole conference packed with great stuff for you to grow as a camp leader.

If you’re unable to attend, keep an eye out for news about regional conferences and events in 2012, as well as our National Conference!

One more piece of news: CCI/Canada is gearing up to launch its brand new website. I hope you’ll keep your eyes peeled for it, because it’s going to be great. By this time next week, it should be totally up and running and ready for you to explore. We’ll keep you posted about how our new Members-Only Portal is going to work. We’re really excited about all of this, and we know you’ll all appreciate our swanky new site.

Well, camp friends, I hope you’re able to attend ELI next week! And if not, I hope you’re still finding ways to improve your ministry all the time.

The Quest at Christopher Lake: November Video Contest Winner!

It’s November 1st… which means we’re ready to announce the winner of this month’s video contest!

Congratulations, The Quest at Christopher Lake!

Check out their super fun and upbeat video:

This video is great because it is so upbeat, and also because it looked like it took a lot of coordination to pull off! Seriously, how did those kids on the jet ski know exactly when to drive by and wave? Amazing job. All of the campers look like they’re having an absolute blast, and their energy and happy smiles will definitely help draw people to their camp. Thanks again for a great video, The Quest!

Now, YOU need to send me a video from YOUR camp so that it can be considered as December’s winner! But here’s the thing: all video entries for December’s video contest MUST show what your camp is like in the wintertime. Even if it’s just a little tour of your own piece of winter wonderland. What kinds of activities do you do in the winter? Do you host Christmas banquets? Do you do sleigh rides? What about skating on the lake? Show me what you’ve got!

Ontario Pioneer Camp: CCI/Canada’s First Monthly Video Contest Winner!

We are proud to present the first ever winner of our monthly camp video contest, Ontario Pioneer Camp!

 

We loved this video because we truly thought it captured the meaning and ministry of this camp. Not only did it highlight the camp’s strengths through programming and activities, it also displayed the purpose of Christian camping: to provide a safe, fun environment where kids can experience God. The video showed both fun activities and quiet God-moments. We loved seeing the way the staff were interacting with kids to show them God’s love.

I should mention that this contest was an extremely close call. We received so many fantastic videos showing off your awesome camping ministries. It really was hard to choose.

We’ll still consider the videos we’ve been sent to date for next month’s winner, but feel free to continue submitting camp videos for consideration. Next month’s winner could be your camp!

Promotional camp videos, search engine optimization, and why it’s important to your camp.

A great video is an excellent way to promote your camp. So you’ve made that great video… how great are you at making sure it’s seen on the Internet?

Here are some tips!

VIDEO HOSTING IS FREE! WHY DON’T YOU HAVE AN ACCOUNT YET?

While I do think it’s a great idea to upload videos to your website, I don’t think that’s enough. Having videos on your site makes for interesting content, and can really help sell your camp to interested clients. But in many cases, a person looking for a summer camp might not first go specifically to your website. For this reason, it’s important to host your videos on other sites as well.

Sites like YouTube, Vimeo, VideoBamBlip, and Viddler will host your videos for free. Putting videos on sites like these not only save you the sever bandwidth, they provide another point of entry to your website. An interested client might find your YouTube video before they’ve even seen your site. (By the way, you can read up on some tips for having a super website here.)

When signing up for an account:
–  Make sure you have a branded user name. Don’t just use someone’s personal account. Make a new account with the name of your camp as your user name.
–  If your camp is part of an umbrella organization (like Canadian Sunday School Mission camps, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship camps, etc.) make sure your user name is still just the name of your camp. It’s easy to get lost within a larger organization. If your user name is specific to your camp, it will be more easily searchable on Google and other search engines.
–  Sign up on multiple websites. The more sites your video is hosted on, the better the   chances you have of it coming up on a simple web search. To save time uploading videos to a whole bunch of sites, you can use a web service like TubeMogul’s OneLoad Video Distribution. They will distribute your video across all of your account sites, and they’ll also provide analytics to determine how broadly your video has been viewed. Their basic service is free, but you can upgrade to more MB and more services if you choose.

CHOOSE THE BEST WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR VIDEO

Try to think of what a person looking for a summer camp would type into Google. Will it be the exact name of your camp? Probably not. So your video shouldn’t just be titled “XYZ Camp” (or whatever your camp is named), and your description and tags should include specific search-engine keywords.

Ways to optimize your video’s searchability:
–  Think about what kind of camp you run and use those words in the title. If your camp is a wilderness adventure camp in Nipigon, Ontario, consider titling your video something like “[Your Camp Name] Wilderness Sleepaway Adventure Summer Camp, Nipigon, Ontario”. That way someone typing in “sleepaway summer camp, nipigon” may be more likely to find your video.
–  Put a link to your website first and foremost in the description of the video. Then go on to describe your camp, keeping in mind those important search-engine keywords. Although it’s probably smart to include contact information at the end of your video, you’re assuming people are going to watch it all the way through. If your link is the first thing they see in the description, they might click on it even if they don’t watch your video to the end.
–  Use tags! Think of every specific keyword someone might search, and tag your video as such. You can even use descriptors like “exciting” or “inspirational”. Use different words to describe the same activity, like “horses”, “horseback riding”, “Western riding”, “equestrian”, etc. And make sure to include general terms like “summer camp“, “sleep-away camp”, “residential”, “sports camp”, “arts camp”, “horse camp”, etc. Some people know the kind of camp they want to send their kids to, and some people aren’t sure yet. You need to use both specific and broad terms to make sure your video comes up no matter how they search it.

SHARE YOUR VIDEOS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

You might have a lot of “likes” on your Facebook page and a good contingent of followers on Twitter (and if you don’t know how to use those sites, contact me and I’ll hook you up) — so use that audience to gain some views on your video’s page.

You can set up Facebook to publish your YouTube videos to your camp’s page. Just add an application like this one to your profile and it will automatically publish your likes, favourites, and video uploads from YouTube to your Facebook page.

You can also upload your videos to applications like these ones, which will publish your videos to your Twitter feed. Some of these applications are more complicated than others. For its simplicity and awesome user-friendliness, I’m leaning towards TwitVid, but there are some other great options as well.

ONE OTHER WAY TO GET YOUR VIDEO SEEN:

Submit it to our video contest!

Sorry, I couldn’t help but plug our contest. But seriously, I’m going to post the winning video to Facebook, Twitter, this blog, and our monthly newsletter. That’s an big audience!

Keep thinking creatively to market your camp in our digital age. From the entries I’ve seen in our contest, I can tell that you’re all doing some really great things. The videos you submitted exceeded my expectations. Now you just have to make sure your hard work gets seen!