Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Kids Don't Go To Camp: Money

A big stressor in most teenagers' lives is MONEY.  When they see camp flyers they often skip right over the description promising "The Best Week of Your Life." Their eyes focus right on the $$$.  

"There's NO WAY my parents can afford that!" 
"I'm already saving for a car."
"I still owe $300 for my drinking ticket and lawyer."

We can go blue in the face telling kids "Don't let money keep you from going!" BUT... until we show them (and their parents) a plan for how we're going to raise the cash flow, our words are empty promises. 

How To Communicate The Plan
  • Create information in an online format that is easily accessible for parents. 
  • Make a simple video of yourself explaining how the fundraisers work. Link to the video on your area's YL site. 
  • Make hard copies of the plan. Keep them in your car so you can be prepared to give them to a parent or potential camper along with the camp registration form.
  • Include the fundraising plan on the back of your camp flyers. 
  • Make individual phone calls to parents. Give them the website to visit so you can both view the plan as you walk them through it.
The Fundraising Plan
  • Lay out the total cost
  • Ask them to pay the deposit
  • Ask them what additional they can pay
  • Break down the fundraisers with practical examples of how they could raise the remainder along with how much time it would take.
$799 (Total Cost)
- $150 (deposit)
- $100 (could pay additional)
$ 550 (left to raise)
- $50 (from carwash general donations: 3 hrs)
-$175 (Trash-A-Thon sponsors, 7 people giving $25 each: 3 hrs) 
-$150 (Selling coupon books, greeting cards or Yankee Candles: 5 hrs)
-$100 (YL Yard Sale: 4 hrs)
-$75 (Yard work for a friend of YL: 4 hrs) 
 $0 remaining camp balance after 19 hours of work


Location is key. Find a busy road and ask to use a parking lot in view of the road. We've had success with Chick-fil-a, Walmart, and grocery stores in the past. 

You will probably make $200-$400 in donations if you have 20 kids wash cars for 3 hrs. That's not even minimum wage per kid. In order to boost the kitty, you can find donors to match donations or have kids get sponsors. 

The Best Carwash Secret: About 2 hrs in, when kids are getting tired and discouraged by the $2 donations, have a pre-arranged friend show up to get their car washed. They were going to donate $100 to campership anyway, why not throw a $100 bill in the pot and encourage the kids to keep going strong for the last hour. 

Yard Sale
Publicize well. Start early in the morning. Make sure you have lots of stuff to sell. Go to churches, neighbors, family, friends and collect people's junk.  Three weeks before the Yard Sale designate a place where you can store the goods, maybe an unused classroom in a church?  Have the campers label every item they brought so when customers check out, the parent cashier knows where to credit the $.

Greeting Card Boxes
Call "Paper Magic," a paper company in Scranton, PA (for all you "Office" fans out there, I'm not even kidding.) Call 800-328-9257 ext 249. Talk to Diane.  You can order 100 of these boxes for under $575.00. Your cost is less than $6/box, but you can sell them for $25/box because there are 24 All-Occasion greeting cards in each one (along with a nice decorative storage box that they come in.) Profit margin=almost $20/box. 

Sitting in front of places of business (like Chick-Fil-A or a grocery store) works great to sell them. Make sure you get permission ahead of time from the management. Lowes Foods & Harris Teeter asked me to call headquarters and both turned me down because they have limited solicitation spots and I called too late. Last year King Soopers and Safeway both gave me permission, granted by the in-store managers.

Some of the leaders on our team placed them at their offices and folks they worked with bought them. I'm selling them at church next week. Have your high school friends knock on the doors of their friends and ask their parents. Its really a good product for a fair price. It's the same price as Amazon

Support Letters
Last week we got a letter in the mail from a friend who is a YL leader in another area asking for $ to help take his high school friends to camp. We sent him some. Why? Because I can't think of a much better investment to make in someone's life. If you ask your friends and cast vision for them as to how incredible an investment this will be in a high school student's life, they will support you. Ask your high school friends to send out letters too. 
Yardwork/Housework For Friends Of YL
Jim Rayburn started a movement 70 years ago that has impacted millions of lives. There are 60 year olds in your community who still remember their first YL camp experience. Now they have good jobs and have to give some tax-deductible money away. They would love for you to move that pile of wood from under their deck or pick weeds out of their garden. Just ask. They'll pay your high school friends way more than they deserve because they learned 30 years ago at YL camp about this thing called grace that changed their life forever.  

Find sponsors per back of trash you pick up to clean up the highway. One of our gals made $350 in an hour doing this last weekend. 

Fun YL outing to do after club has stopped for the year! Kids and leaders both can get pledges per pin they would bowl over three games. Most kids get pledges of 5-10 cents per pin. If a student gets around $2 per pin in total sponsorships and knock down 300 pins in 3 games, that's $600! You can also get businesses to be lane sponsors (much like hole sponsors at a golf tournament) to cover the overhead cost for the lanes and the food. 
Missions Trip Products
If you're going on a missions trip bring back something unique from that place and sell it as a camp fundraiser. Example: coffee from Latin America (buy for $4/lb) and sell it for $15/lb.

Other Fundraising Ideas That Have Worked

Bake Sale
Run a 5K

Selling Coupon Books
Selling Yankee Candles
Working Concession Stands at local events

What would you add? How do you eliminate the $ excuse from kids not going to camp? Please comment below.


  1. We are selling the Young Life coffee from Nicaragua - Beyond Beans Coffee. You buy the bags of coffee from Beyond Beans at $7 per bag and sell them for $12 per bag. You have to cover the shipping ($50 for 100lbs to ship to NJ) but the coffee practically sells itself. It really is amazing coffee and you're not only helping your local kids, but you're also helping Nicaraguan teenagers go to Vida Joven (that's YL in spanish) camp. I've had kids selling the coffee for 2 months now and one has sold over 85 pounds of coffee to date. That's over $425 towards his camp costs. Another kid has sold over 60 pounds so that he can invite a friend who can't afford camp. And it worked! Last night at club one kid who's never been to camp turned to him and said, "Man, I'd love to go to Saranac... but the money..." and he said, "I can help you get there!" check it out at beyondbeanscoffee.com and feel free to email me with questions!

    1. Oh, you can email me at marcuseiland at gmail

  2. Krispy Kremes is a big hit where we live... we pre-sold 122 boxes (cost is $5, but you sell for $10) and they gave us 10 extra boxes for free. Ended up raising $720 for camp and I picked up the donuts on the way back from a wedding that I was going to anyways (no extra gas money costs). You have to pre-order the donuts 48 hrs before pickup, but the form and info is on their website.