Duncan Robinson from Camp Tree reached out to me to ask if I’d review his new camper referral system. I said I was interested, because:
A. I didn’t know much about it and I’m always down for learning new things.
B. It sounded like something that could help other camp directors and I like to be helpful in spreading good ideas.
C. As a freelance writer I’m a big fan of getting paid to have opinions on stuff!
So we were almost in agreement, but I had one very important question to ask first. “Are you comfortable with me giving an honest review, even if there are elements I don’t love?”
Duncan was very gracious in his response and said, “Absolutely, we always welcome feedback!” which was great because it would have been super awkward if I had to tell him it’s a deal breaker if I was expected to only say positive things even if I didn’t believe them just because this is a sponsored review.
With all that said, I have lots of great things to say about Camp Tree!
So here’s my honest review.
In a nutshell, Camp Tree makes it easy for your current camper families to be ambassadors of your program and help you recruit more campers.
You’re essentially gamifying your traditional ‘bring a friend’ campaign by giving each camper a sharable tracking code (basically an affiliate link). Then encouraging them to “play” by offering awesome incentives for different milestones such as traffic to your site or referrals. So you can completely customize the milestones and the incentives without actually having to track who’s referring whom, because the system tracks it for you.
You can even have a page on your website where it shows the leaderboard and all the prizes they could win.
I think that’s pretty neat!
Here’s what I learned about Camp Tree:
- If you’re going to check out Camp Tree, I strongly suggest you book a demo with one of their team. (Talking to other humans during the office season, I know, I’m asking a lot – but it’s totally worth it). The walk through was really comprehensive, and Duncan was super patient with all of my questions … and anyone who knows me knows I ask A LOT of questions.
- The back end of the system is pretty straight forward.
They give you step by step instructions on how to set it up and integrate it into your current website and registration system, and offer training for setup as well.
- The system was created by Camp Directors, who I assume were tired of trying to track how many campers Sally Jane sent their way yet understood the power of camper to camper recruitment. So created what is basically peer to peer recruitment on speed.
- It’s a stand alone platform so you can use it with any registration software and website.
- It’s currently only available to Canadian & American camps, although Duncan did say that it may be available to Mexican camps too. (Mexican camps, let them know you’re interested!)
- The currency is USD.
- There’s a free 14 day trial.
- I clicked the conversation button in the bottom right corner (that’s linked to FB messenger) and received a friendly and helpful reply after about 3 hours.
- Each camper family gets a special link that the system uses to track clicks and registrations.
- Even if you’re still using paper registrations, you can still give families their personalized tracking code to refer others. (If you’re still using paper applications, I’m so sorry for your troubles! I remember that pain. Ask me or a trusted camp friend for help. There’s a better life for you.)
Here’s what I’d fine- tune:
- I’d actually like to know more about the folks who created the system. So I don’t have to make up my own backstory involving poor ol’ Sally Jane.
It’s mentioned briefly in the explainer video that it’s created by camp directors but I think it would build more trust and confidence in the system if we knew a little bit about those folks. There’s something to be said for seeing the face and personality behind the product.
- I had some trouble with the little conversation button, the conversation box popped up every time I switched pages, which was mildly annoying when I was checking out the blog posts and doing lots of clicking from page to page and the box didn’t want to close. But that only happened during one visit and I was on the site a number of times.
Here’s what I LOVED about Camp Tree:
- The blog.
I know I’m supposed to talk about the system, but the blog was SUCH a pleasant surprise, it’s totally worth mentioning. They’re very generous with their knowledge and there are some really great tips and ideas in the blog posts. They even give away an 8 page downloadable guide to creating a referral system.
Lots of gems in there.
- There are loads of examples of types of incentives or “prizes” you can offer and how to present them, email templates to let families know about your new incentive program, what your referral page can look like, etc.
I really like visuals so this was pretty huge for me.
- I think what I loved most is how upfront they are about the reality of the ‘bring a friend’ system.
When I spoke with Duncan he said that their goal is to “help GOOD camps grow”. He stated the first step in creating great ambassador programs is to have an exceptional camp program to begin with. That people WANT to talk about. And I saw that sentiment echoed in the explainer video and in various spots on the website.
They’re very honest about the fact that this isn’t a magic bullet (the metaphorical one, not the tiny blender – although, it’s definitely not that either!), you can’t just send the links to your families and have new campers flock to you, you have to have a program worth talking about in order to really make this system work, and you’ll likely need to do a little hand holding at first and send some reminders.
They’re super upfront about what you’ll need to put in to make it work, which is something I really appreciate, because as we know, I value honesty.
So, all in all, I think it’s a pretty cool system and it seems like the camps who have used it have had quite a bit of success (some more than others – because again, you get out what you put in). I’m excited to see this company grow and can’t wait to hear what you all think about it.
Is Camp Tree something you’d be willing to try? What do you currently use for peer to peer recruiting? Tell me about it in the comment section below.