The Western North Carolina Nature Center implemented a lottery style system for summer camp registration in 2023. There was a large audience but not enough capacity for the program. The need arose from parents rushing to sign up their children before the camp capacity was reached. The outcome of switching to a lottery style signup was viewed as a net positive by both parents and staff at the Nature Center.


Problem to Solve

The Nature Center is a popular choice for parents looking to enroll their children in a summer camp program. One difficulty expressed was the day-1 rush to register their children. This becomes an equity issue for parents wanting to participate. Sometimes the camp program would go on sale during a period when the parents were at work or not available to sign up. In addition, parents with multiple children in different age brackets would find that space was available for one age group but not the other on a given week. This resulted in many phone calls with parents and time spent by the Nature Center staff addressing confusion and frustration with the registration process. 

The Nature Center also wanted to implement an easy camper check-in process. Historically forms and information was completed during the first day of check-in which resulted in long waiting times as parents filled out forms to drop off their campers.

Solution: Thinking Inside and Outside of the Box

The Nature Center wanted to avoid the day-1 rush of camp registration and provide a way to allow parents to participate even if they were unavailable. They decided to use a lottery system by using a registration form to allow parents to put their families into a pool. The information gathered resulted in a camper list and a camper waitlist for those names not pulled. The window for sign up was long enough to allow anyone interested in the summer camp program to submit the form without rushing.

The Nature Center staff then pulled families from the pool of registrants and invited them to sign up for camp. Using an invitation-only linking style on ACME’s ecommerce gave the parents the flexibility to register their campers on their time. The parents appreciated this less stressful style of camper registration. Overall, the Nature Center received positive feedback from parents on the lottery system. 

The Nature Center also wanted to improve the data collection for campers. including camper and emergency contact information, consent acknowledgments, etc. In the past, this information was collected physically via different form documents. Using ACME’s form tool, the Nature Center was able to consolidate the required information into one place and collect it digitally. This ensured all the data was complete at the time of registration and sped up the check-in process when campers arrived, since the data was already collected. The lottery system also brought peace of mind for parents since they did not need to rush to fill out the forms as their spot was already guaranteed. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Nature Center's process or want to workshop a similar idea, please contact your ACME Client Success Manager!