From the outside, CAMP stores might resemble ordinary toy stores, with brightly colored storefronts and shelves stocked with educational games, toys and stuffed animals. But the company is revolutionizing retail by also offering family experiences inside their shops. During CAMP’s “family experiences,” kids and parents can enjoy a 30 to 45-minute multimedia adventure hosted by a “CAMP Counselor,” which includes a thematic story, video, music, dance, and hands-on activities such as going down a slide and throwing strawberries at a wall.
“With a mix of play, product, and rotating shows, we help families answer the question, ‘What should we do today?'” says Nikki Kaufman, the cofounder and chief people officer of CAMP. “In just a few years, CAMP has become a destination for young families.” Launched in December 2018 and in spite of needing to shut down retail stores, experiences and birthday parties during the Covid pandemic in 2020, CAMP already operates nine retail locations and sells children’s products on its website.
Currently at the 5th Ave Store, CAMP has created a themed experience in collaboration with Disney called Mickey & Friends: An Extra Big Adventure. The Brooklyn location is currently offering a Star Trek experience. People living in NYC can attend an event in Domino Park on Thursday, August 11 hosted by CAMP together with Walgreens. In addition, CAMP has partnered with Urban Dessert Lab, the beloved oat milk ice cream company that went viral on TikTok, to create exclusive flavors for the 5th Avenue location.
“I actually do not have any formal HR degree or training, but learned it all by doing,” says Kaufman, who is also the mother of three children. “I’m so thankful I get to learn every day from the inspiring team around me at CAMP.”
Kaufman says that she particularly enjoys growing CAMP’s team and culture. “One of the things that makes the CAMP experience so unique is the role that Counselors play. These extraordinary individuals are the face of CAMP. They perform, teach, inspire, play and have fun in our stores every day! This not only creates a strong corporate culture, but also builds brand loyalty and real connection and community within our stores. There is not a day that goes by where we don’t receive very specific customer feedback of the impact a Counselor had on a family’s visit to a CAMP store.”
Leading a business that earns much of its revenue by bringing together large groups of people indoors has certainly been a challenge during a global pandemic. But Kaufman feels proud of the way CAMP has treated its staff and pivoted to more online business during this time. On March 15, 2020, they had to close all five of their stores and could no longer host birthday parties. However, the very next day the company launched a public platform for Zoom celebrations, where CAMP has since celebrated over 20,000 kid parties. It wasn’t long before the company was able to reopen and even add four new stores.
To people looking to tap into their life purpose, Kaufman offers this advice. “Just do it! Thank you, Nike. I do live by this slogan! Also, be open to learning and improving daily. If you put your head on the pillow every night knowing you did the best you could, that’s all you can ask for. Be there for all the highs and lows. It’s all part of the journey.”