Junior summer camps are popular. These language programmes appeal to parents who want their children to learn a language while being supervised by professionals. While language schools need to offer an attractive programme, agents need to manage their clients’ expectations.
Here are four tips from IALC managers and directors to ensure a successful summer camp experience.
Find out what the students and parents are looking for: their needs and goals. “Managing the expectations of the parents and of the student is always the first step in getting off on the right foot in the first days of the program”, explains Michelle Reynolds.
The programme must work for the client. “The nicest sports camp on earth is inappropriate for a child who doesn’t like sports at all,” says Sandra Weber. And it rarely works to force a child to attend a camp when he really doesn’t want to. Sometimes parents try to place their child in a camp meant for slightly older children. Resist this pressure – it normally creates problems and the parents should be made aware of this.
The student’s age and interests will guide you on whether to recommend a bustling city or a small town. But any good summer camp will provide students with a safe environment, a great learning experience and lots of fun.
In all events, make sure it’s “a highly structured program, the English classes are small and well-organized and the activities are activities that appeal to juniors” recommends Vanessa Plmieri. So ask for a sample timetable and check the content of the package. A good programme will provide a warm atmosphere, classes with a range of levels and plenty of opportunities for students to learn, make new friends and enjoy their holiday.
While the main reason parents send their children on junior summer camps is to improve their language skills, the first question they’ll ask their child on her return is if she had fun, says Michelle Reynolds.
Talk the students through exactly what will happen at the airport and on arrival, and explain the differences they can expect in the food, housing and any other cultural aspects of the country they are visiting.
Student safety must be included in every aspect of the programme: booking, choice of location, accommodation, activities, health, rules, etc.
Always communicate closely with the school. Check the safety criteria and ask for the teacher and staff qualifications, suggests Stéphane Vaillant. Make sure it’s clear in advance who is responsible for what.
A solid relationship between agent and school is essential for a successful summer programme and ideally you should visit the summer school in operation. “It is the best way to understand the culture, the programme, the facilities and what will be best for each individual” explains Yvonne Chapman.
“Remember that there are always two sides to the story”, says Richard Mountford. “A good school will understand the difficulties that agents face from worried parents and will have the attitude “we are in this together”!”
Article written by International Association of Language Centres (IALC).
Contributors from IALC-accredited language schools:
Sandro Humann, Marketing Manager, Estudio Sampere, Madrid, Alicante & Salamanca in Spain, Cuenca in Ecuador, Havana in Cuba | Stéphane Vaillant, Sales and Business Developer, France Langue, Paris, Bordeaux, Nice & Biarritz, France | Richard Mountford, Operations Director, Studio Cambridge, Cambridge, UK | Vanessa Palmieri, Director of Marketing, English Language Center, Boston, Los Angeles & Santa Barbara, USA | Michelle Reynolds, Teen Programs Director, Rennert International, New York & Miami, USA | Sandra Weber, Summer Camp Coordinator, GLS German Language School, Berlin, Germany | Yvonne Chapman, Director of Young Learner Programmes, Cambridge Academy of English, Cambridge, UK