For families, it is important that parents understand the structure of the program and feel comfortable sending their children to the program site. These pre-summer events are great for answering questions, completing paperwork, and relationship building with staff.


Here are some proven examples of successful engagement events:

Family events

  • Depending on context, family events could be an informal get-together, a simulation of a program day to get parents and students excited about summer, or a more formal orientation.
  • Check out this Snapshot from the Field: Open House at Jackson Mann
  • Check out this Snapshot from the Field: Courageous Sailing’s Orientation Agenda
  • Consider having “parent ambassadors” available to speak about their positive past interaction with the program or having children talk a bit about their favorite experience. Follow this link to see how Hale Reservation captured parental video testimonials to share with other parents/guardians at future events.
  • Holding raffles for prizes related to the program can be an effective way to increase attendance at the event.

Student workshops

Hold an event, during or after school, to extend activities from the summer into the school year. Examples: an art class, science experiment, recreational activity Click here to check out the blog and photos from one event held in 2014.

“Holiday” event at summer site

Bring families together to celebrate “holidays” – an opportunity to create a themed event: Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, and Memorial Day are options. Event can take place before or after the actual holiday so attendance will be higher.

Field trips

  • Could happen during the school day (with school permission), immediately following the end of the school day, or on a weekend/vacation.
  • Strategies include: students attending site after school for activities, or inviting students and families to site for simulation of program day.
  • Consider serving dinner at this event.

Community service event

A strategic date to organize a community service event would be Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is the National Day of Service. Or pick another day where students who have registered for your program can volunteer together and get to know each other (and staff) before the program begins.