“We’ve noticed over the past few years that our international camper numbers were continuing to rise,” Colleen Bertiglia, director of international marketing and sales, said.
“We felt there was an opportunity to build upon that by putting together programmes most useful for an international camper and one thing they kept asking for was language programmes. ”
Youngsters study a week of English with ELS, then a week of sports with Nike
Bertiglia said 1,500-2,000 campers aged 13-18 from around the world attended this summer, with strong showings from Turkey and Russia. USSC aims to offer both languages and sports without sacrificing either one; students take the ELS language course for a week before beginning a week of sports with Nike.
“They just need that time early on to ease into the programme. And then when they start with Nike they jump right in and they’re so much more comfortable with the activities and making friends with the American campers,” she said.
The majority of the company’s recruitment has come directly through USSC’s website but they are keen to develop relationships further with agents. “Agents are great, they’re helping campers find the right programme,” said Bertiglia. “We recognise that we need to work with them and reach out to them but will continue to drive our direct business.”
“ELS seemed liked the best fit because they tended to be on college campuses”
USSC said it was attracted to ELS because of its more than 50 on-campus locations in the US, Canada and Australia. “ELS seemed liked the best fit because they tended to be on college campuses which is where we hold our programmes,” said Bertiglia.
Started in 1978, USSC camps host about 50,000 students a year. As well as new Nike-ELS ventures, the company said it wanted to partner with other English language companies to offer a sports supplement at language-focused camps. However, Bertiglia said, “Rolling out slowly has been great because we didn’t want to be too big before understanding the nuances.”