How a summer camp got $11,000 in referrals from one customer

Casey Hill

Tim McElravy, director of Camp Lake Wenatchee YMCA, stared at his screen in bewilderment. 

His data was showing $11,000 in sales from Grants Pass, Oregon. The only thing was…Tim runs a YMCA in Washington. These sales were from a completely different state. How could that be?

It turns out that one out-of-state camper was so amazed by their welcome experience that they told their friends...and lots of them. Pretty soon the crew from Grant Pass Oregon was booking out lots of Cabins. 

But what exactly did Tim do to create such a wildfire of referrals?

How Tim's YMCA camp uses personal video to generate $100,000+ in referrals

For the last two years, Tim has been personally welcoming EVERY single new camper that elects to join them. It’s a way that Tim connects with the families who are sending their kids to camp, builds trust, and establishes the relationship. 

Here is an example.

Pretty cool, huh?

As Tim described it to me in an interview, “Imagine you are sending off your kid for the first time to hang out with other strangers at a cabin in the woods somewhere. Parents are nervous. Personal video is a way to show the humans behind the scenes. You can see someones face, hear how they talk, and read their body language. It’s a great way to kick off the relationship.”

And engagement is off the charts!

While Tim’s standard email newsletter has around a 10% open rate, his Bonjoro personal video emails have an 85% open rate. There is something about hearing your name in a video and knowing that a Director made a video just for you that is pretty special. It shows how much each camper is valued.

Tim said when he first got Bonjoro (he was actually referred to the platform by Camp management specialist Travis Allison over at he was using it to respond to inbound inquiries. He thought what the heck, when someone writes in with questions, I will respond with a personal video.

What normally would have taken him 10 minutes to respond to, suddenly took 2 minutes via a video. 

Tim told me, “Right away I was hooked. The first video I sent to a customer converted them to Camp and they paid $600. I paid for several years of Bonjoro subscription in the first 5 minutes”.

Not bad ROI.

Why Tim's personal videos work so well for generating referrals

So why do Tim’s personal videos work so effectively for generating referrals for his summer camp? There's a few key things going on in the example video above that you could copy and replicate yourself.

He establishes trust:

In a lot of businesses, and camps are definitely no exception, one of your first big barriers is trust. You need to help people feel comfortable with your brand, your level of service and quality and the results they are going to see from working with you. Using video as a way to put a human face behind the name reduces barriers and improves transparency.

He shows the product:

Notice how Tim does the video from inside of the cabins? How he talks about it being Harry Potter week? Tim is showcasing exactly what is going to happen behind the scenes and this makes the recipient feel immediately more connected to the service at hand. This is a common theme amongst our most successful Bonjoro users: Show people what they are getting. 

He leverages personal context:

It is very clear, right off the bat, that this video was made specifically for Hillary and her son Parks. She talks about the cabin he will be getting, how one of his friends is already signed up too but the other one would need to waitlist etc. The more you can make the video feel like it was recorded and made just for them (not someone reading a routine statement off a script), the higher your success rate with your Bonjoro videos will be. 

But Tim didn’t just stop with welcome videos. He started to dream up how else he could leverage video. 

One application became communicating better with volunteers and new employees. Like this video:

Another became thanking people who had donated to the camp to fund sponsorships or new campus developments.

This exact video here led to a $3,000 donation THAT night after he sent it.

I really love this example because to me, it encapsulates what Bonjoro is all about. Tim is a little out of breath as he walks around at altitude, but he is real. This video oozes authenticity, genuine gratitude, and care. 

The wonderful thing about personal video is you don’t need a studio, perfect lighting, or an ideal script. In fact, having no script and talking straight from the heart is ideal. Personal video is about building connections with people and we relate far more to people that are authentic and imperfect than someone who looks like they are on a movie set. 

And check this out, during the pandemic, they have had to close down all their camp operations. It has been a huge financial hit for them. But Tim, never being one to wallow or throw in the towel, is using Bonjoro for yet again another innovative use case!

To reach out to people who he is trying to rent the cabins out to with AirBnB to give them a personal look! 

Once again, anywhere where trust can be built, personal video helps bring down barriers.

Get your own blueprint for sending personal videos

If you run a camp and want to emulate the success of Tim and Lake Wenatchee YMCA, here is your own blueprint.

Show people around:

Whether you are welcoming a new camp attendee or showcasing an awesome event your team does at camp, use Bonjoro’s mobile app to record the video on-site, easily from your phone! People love to see the cabins, trails etc. of your camp!

Welcome each new registrant and encourage them to invite their friends:

People love to attend camp with their friends and if you give them something that is easy to share, like a great personal welcome video, the chances of them bringing more friends goes way up! So welcome each new camper and tell them to bring their friends for some added fun!

Use videos just for gratitude:

When you make a video for someone and the vibe they get it is it just genuinely to show appreciation and thankfulness, vs. an upsell or some other “sales” objective, that is how you start to build real relationships. So send them a cool highlight video of something their kid did, or send them a thank you after camp for choosing you. Just be you and invest in your customers.

If you need more inspiration, download our personal video playbook here. It's got tons of advice on sending videos, and other great tactics.

A personal message from us at Bonjoro

At this point in the article we usually encourage you to take a free trial of Bonjoro. But after speaking with Tim, we'd like to do something else we think is much more worthwhile right now.

This year, COVID 19 meant that Tim's YMCA camp could not do traditional summer.  COVID-19 also meant that they had to close the YMCA from March 13 to September 16.  The financial loss to their YMCA this year is over 2 million dollars in lost revenue. The Annual budget is about 3.2 Million. When COVID hit, Tim and the team shifted their fundraising raising money for youth scholarships (swim lessons, Summer Camp, Day camp) to supporting and sustaining the YMCA through this pandemic.  

Lake Wenatchee YMCA is an incredible chapter that is bringing joy, priceless memories and lifelong friendships to kids, as this video shows so beautifully. 

If Tim's work, and dedication has struck a chord with you please feel free to support them via their fundraising page here:

As an added bonus for donating, Tim promises to send a thank you Bonjoro wearing the bear suit to any generous patrons!

About the author
Casey Hill
Growth Manager
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