How to Create a Camp App

Embrace your campers’ digital tendencies and create a camp app for better communication!

Camps come in all shapes and sizes, but at their core – camps are about community. You can also bet that all camps share another similarity these days: all their campers are using smartphones. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of that fact and grow your community with a camp app.

A common misconception about mobile technology is that it somehow replaces or supplants real-world interactions. We’ve found that the opposite is true – mobile tech is actually helping people increase and expedite their social interactions. And by providing a camp app, you will be opening up a new communication channel that will expand the window for engagement both before and after the camp experience.

What can you do with a camp app? Whether your campers are headed for the woods or a lab (science camp, anyone?) there are several app features that everyone can benefit from.

Packing Lists

camp app packing listEveryone wants to know what they’ll need when they go to camp. And no one wants to be one that forgets their shower shoes. Providing a packing list is the easiest way to ensure your camp app becomes an essential resource the second that it’s released. Pre-camp information like this is essential for driving early app adoption with your users.

And unlike an email or an information packet, you can actually include more than one packing list! There could be a list for those traveling from out-of-state, or a packing list for first-time campers.


camp app mapsCamps are not always in the most-documented or easily-accessible areas. Upload any custom maps that you might have right into your camp app. The best part is that, on mobile, you can make the maps interactive so that buildings and locations and linked to descriptions and schedules – instantly bringing your location alive and making your map a destination within the app.

And GPS is great – if you have a data connection. Not all of us host camps in areas with such luxuries, which will make your in-app map all the more essential.

Activity Sign-Ups

camp app sign upsHow do you manage who is doing which special activity? A sign-up sheet in the dining hall? An unwieldy Excel spreadsheet? Why not let your camp app manage it for you?

With Guidebook’s Session Attendance feature, you can put a cap on schedule items and allow app users to add that item to their personal schedule. The list for each activity then manages itself, giving you – as the administrator – visibility on the back end as to who has signed up, how many spaces are available, and even the ability to manage a wait list.

Private In-app Messaging

camp app messagingReady to take engagement and interaction to the next level? Add private messaging to your camp app. This will create an instant messaging layer in your app where campers can talk to each other without needing to offer up personal contact info. You can imagine a lot of “meet me by the lake” type messaging going on – but consider the impact on the lasting-power of your app.

With Private Messaging, your camp app users will have the ability to chat with other campers before they ever get to your camp. They will also have a platform for extending their relationships beyond the time that they were attending camp. And with the ability to send emojis, photos, and locations – it’s as useful as any other messaging app!

Push Messaging

camp app messagesThe unbeatable feature in a camp app is the ability to message your users instantly as a group. Push messaging sends a message to all of your app’s users that appears on their home screen. So whether or not they’re currently using your app, they’re sure to see whatever it is you want them to see.

Creative push messaging is key to an engaging app. If you want to direct users to a certain module, or make sure that they all arrive on time for the bonfire – the best way to make it happen is with a push message. No more putting information into the world and hoping campers find out. Now it’s guaranteed!

Getting people to use your camp app

Providing an app is great – but getting people to use it is a different story. Your app is mostly as good as the amount of use it gets from your audience. Luckily, ensuring usage isn’t too hard, but it does take some strategy on your part.

The number one rule is to make the information inside of it essential. Put things inside your app that aren’t available anywhere else. For many, this means discontinuing their printed resources and solely offering up information within the app. If you’re not ready to go quite that far, you could choose strategic pieces of exclusive information to list in the app. You could make it clear, for example, that the camp’s schedule will debut in the app a week before it’s available online.

The second key to app adoption is ensuring that it’s available early on. The sooner your users can add it to their phone and make it an essential part of their experience, the better. We recommend publishing your app 6 weeks out and reminding people about it at least once a week leading up to their arrival.

Ready to build?

It’s time to bring the camp experience into the 21st century! In addition to creating an informational hub, you’ll also be adding an engaging element that will make it easier for you to communicate with your campers, and your campers to communicate with each other. And with a native app on their phones, they’ll still have access to all the app’s essentials regardless of their access to a data or wifi connection.

Guidebook has already gotten a lot of the work out of the way and created a Camp App template for you to get a head start on creating your app. Try it out for free now by clicking below!

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