When Does Camp Start? At “Hello.”

Everything you do, from the way you answer your phone to the design of your packaging, from your location to the downstream effects of your work, from the hold music to the behavior of your executives, and even the kind of packing peanuts you use – all of it is a form of marketing your brand.
- Seth Godin, from This is Marketing

This excerpt from Seth Godin's latest book reminded me of our team’s welcome phone calls to all first-time attendees of the JCamp 180 Annual Conference last year. When we called camp office numbers, we were surprised by what we found. 

In some cases, especially for those camps that are part of a parent organization like a JCC or Synagogue, we had to sit through a long list of options before being directed to the extension for the camp office. In at least one case, we were told to leave a message - “someone will call you back.” In other words, you will NEVER get a live conversation when you call the camp phone number.  When we were on hold, announcements rarely shared the excitement of camp; on-hold music rarely captured the ruach of camp.

We were shocked. As Godin mentions, how you answer the phone helps define your brand. What do you think the lack of a live person on the phone says about your brand to a potential family, or current family with an urgent issue, or a donor? 

P.S. Look for more thoughts from This is Marketing and what it means for your camp brand in a future blog post.

Written by Kevin Martone. Kevin is the Technology Program Manager with JCamp 180. His focus area is in applying technology (database management, communications) to support fundraising and outreach efforts. Kevin leads JTEC (JCamp 180 Training in Effective Communications) and co-leads Data2Donors, a program to help camps prioritize their database for improved Alumni outreach and fundraising.

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at