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Dan Weir has been working in youth development & summer camp for over 20 years. He is a host on the CampHacker Podcast, volunteers at with American Camp Association NY-NJ & the New York State Camp Directors Association, and works at the YMCA of Long Island. He tweets at @danlovescamp.

 

 

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Thursday
May062010

An elevator speech that works.

For years I've been hearing from industry leaders like Gary Forster that a summer camp director needs to have a great elevator speech. 

The term "elevator speech" or "elevator pitch" refers to a concise and compelling description of a product (in this case summer camp).  Roughly in a minute, a director wants to be able to convey to a stranger the magic, purpose, and need for a child to go to summer camp.  In a field that is based so heavily on having a positive relationship and trust with parents, it is key that your speech is dialed in to your audience.

BusinessWeek wrote a great article on "The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch" but it is missing something.  It is missing the important question "Why?".

This question is answered in the TED Talk by Simon Sinek. Simon's lecture featured below is is titled "How great leaders inspire action."  His examples of Apple, TiVo and other tech companies are great comparisons to the differences in a camp directors' elevator speeches. 

In a minute, summer camp professionals need to get past their bells and whistles (waterfront inflatibles, climbing towers) and answer the question "Why?".  Why should my child go to your camp? Why should I trust you with my child?  Why should I pay you $1500 to do what my town recreation program will do for a quarter of the price? 

If you can't answer any of these questions, it's time to re-think your speech.  Parents don't care how much you've spent on a water slide or an ATV.  They care about the impact your camp is going to have on their child's life.

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