North American Summer Camp Industry Trends

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The Results Are In!

We were overwhelmed with the response to our first annual Summer Camp Trends survey in 2018.
Hundreds of you showed up in force to share how your camps are doing, from enrollment trends to programming changes and a bit of everything in-between.

Now…it’s our turn to share with you!

Survey Areas

Survey Methodology

Demographics

Tuition & Revenue

Sessions & Programs

Registration Data

Marketing Channels

Enrollment Trends

Technology at Camp

Camp Management Software

Camp Trends 2018: Data Methodology

Can this data be trusted?

We’re working with a significant sample size and a very strong data set. Based on comparison to other existing industry reports, this is perhaps the most robust set of data of its kind in the summer camp industry.

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Survey Respondents

This survey is based on anonymously gathered, self-reported information gathered through this survey which was submitted by camp owners, directors, and staff. Notwithstanding inherent flaws that can come along with self-reported data, with such a significant sample size the statistics represent an excellent cross-section of camps across the US. We’ve also taken basic measures to validate and normalize the data set you see in this report.

Feel free to connect with us if you have any questions!

Summer Camp Trends 2018: Demographic Data

Where are most summer camps located in the US?

What type of camps are they?

Camp Trends 2018: Demographic Data

Roughly half of surveyed camps are in the Northeast

The Western region reported 24%of all camps, and the Midwest and South regions contribute 15% and 12% respectively.

For this study, we decided to divide the United States into four regions – Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. While we failed to indicate in the actual survey which states belonged to which regions, the groupings are logical and the information for this survey can still be viewed as reliable. Canada was initially included in the survey, however with only 6 Canadian camp respondents, we didn’t have a large enough sample size to include in the final data set.

Camp Trends 2018: Demographic Data

Nearly 80% lead residential or residential/day camps

Survey Question: What type of camp do you operate?

When it comes to summer camp, we refer to residential camps as those whose campers stay overnight. Day camp attendees arrive at camp in the morning and leave in the evening. Combination Residential/Day Camps offer both sessions, sometimes depending on the time of year but sometimes concurrently.

Summer Camp Trends 2018: Money Matters

What are camps charging for tuition?

What are camps earning in gross revenue?

Camp Trends 2018: Revenue Data

Camps are asking for – and getting – substantial tuitions

Survey Question: What is your average tuition per week?

31%of respondents’ camps charge $1,000 or more per session, while 69% charge less than that.

Camp Trends 2018: Revenue Data

Higher tuitions mean higher revenue

Survey Question: What is your camp’s average annual gross revenue?

Nearly 40% of respondents’ camps make more than $1M per year in gross revenue. And in terms of revenues earned, the industry of summer camp is stronger than it’s ever been with over $18 billion streaming through it each year.

Summer Camp Trends 2018: Sessions & Programs

How many campers do you serve per session?

What do people love most about your camp?

Camp Trends 2018: Session Data

From less than 50 campers per session up to more than 500, there is no one-size-fits-all

Survey Question: How many campers do you serve in each session?

Camp Trends 2018: Session Data

1 in 4 camps plan to add new sessions next season

Survey Question: Do you plan to make any changes to your sessions in the 2019 year?

Approximately 75% of camps feel dialed-in when it comes to the number of sessions they currently offer, however, a quarter of camps are planning to change things up in 2019.

Camp Trends 2018: Session Data

Almost 6 in 10 camps run 10 or more different programs

Survey Question: How many different program types do you run for your campers?

The data shows that the majority of camps offer greater than 10 programs. There may be a correlation between the number of programs and revenue as well; bigger camps offer more programs and thus increase the number of campers they appeal to, thus increasing their revenue.

Camp Trends 2018: Programming

Programs and Staff make (or break!) campers’ experience

Survey Question: What do people love most about your residential or day camp?

For residential camps, there’s no surprise here. Program offerings and staff are what you believe keep kids coming back, year after year.

Camp Trends 2018: Registration Data

When do most camps open registration?

How far in advance of the season do they reach capacity?

Camp Trends 2018: Session Data

Camps tend to open registration during summer or in January

Survey Question: What month does your camp open registration?

Opening registration immediately after the season is a great way to capitalize on the post-high of summer camp to try to fill camp for the following summer – and can work especially well if this registration session is limited in some way. Opening (or re-opening) registration in January is when most camps tend to try to fill remaining spots.

Camp Trends 2018: Registration

One-third of camps reach 80% capacity well in advance of opening day

Survey Question: When does your camp typically reach 80% of registration capacity?

One marker of a healthy camp is how quickly registration tends to fill up. Are you waiting until the last minute to fill the final 20% of your open slots? If so, you may consider modifying your strategy by seeking to improve your camp experience to keep kids coming back, opening registration immediately after the season, or marketing earlier to campers and parents.

Camp Trends 2018: Marketing Matters

What marketing channels do you see the most results from?

Camp Trends 2018: Marketing Matters

For camps, nothing compares to word of mouth

Survey Question: What are the top three methods that attract *new* campers to register for your camp?

While email, direct mail, and paid digital help nudge more registrations, nothing compares to word of mouth and connecting with campers and parents on social media.

Camp Trends 2018: Enrollment Trends

Is the camp industry in a growing – or declining – state?

Camp Trends 2018: Enrollment Trends

Great news: 90% of camps reported growth or consistent business year-over-year

Survey Question: Did you see any differences in enrollment numbers this year (2018) compared to last year (2017)?

This is a good sign for the state of the industry; nearly 50% of camps didn’t just see marginal enrollment increases. Between 4 and 15% growth is fantastic. And with 42% of camps staying consistent, it’s safe to say that right now the state of the summer camp industry looks to be on a good trajectory.

Camp Trends 2018: Enrollment Trends

The trend continues into 2019: most are anticipating consistent numbers or significant growth

Survey Question: What do you expect for your enrollment in 2019?

Camp Trends 2018: Tuition Trends

Are tuition costs on the rise?

Camp Trends 2018: Tuition Trends

A whopping 75% of camps increased their fees last year

Survey Question: Did you make any changes to your camp tuition fees in 2018?

Higher tuition without measurable increases in costs translates directly to the bottom line – and almost everyone in the industry raised tuition or kept it the same in 2018. But for those who increased tuition, how much did they increase it?

Camp Trends 2018: Tuition Trends

In 2018, tuition increases of 3-5% were most common

Survey Question: How much did you increase your camp tuition fees in 2018?

Nearly a 10% of camps, however, increased by a larger margin of 5-10% – which is significant!

Camp Trends 2018: Tuition Trends

In 2019, 75% of camps plan to increase tuition costs

Survey Question: Do you expect to make any changes to camp tuition for 2019?

With 3 in 4 camps planning to increase tuition, the pulse on the market shows that camp directors are feeling pretty optimistic about the future. How optimistic?

Camp Trends 2018: Tuition Trends

In 2019, the majority of camps that plan to increase tuition will increase it by at least 3%

Survey Question: How much do you expect to increase your camp tuition fees in 2019?

Another 10% of respondents are going for more aggressive tuition increases.

Camp Trends 2018: Technology at Camp

How are camps treating tech?

Camp Trends 2018: Technology at Camp

The vast majority of camps maintain a screen-free environment for campers

Survey Question: How does your camp handle the use of technology by your campers?

In a world that’s being overtaken by screen-time, nearly 75% of camps surveyed keep it screen-free. What about those with ‘limited use’ policies?

Camp Trends 2018: Technology at Camp

For camps that allow electronics, most of them set boundaries on times and/or devices

Survey Question: If your camp has limited use of electronics, do you…

While some camps – such as coding camps – must use electronics, for more traditional camps the trend is clear: limiting screen time and challenging their counselors and campers to prioritize engaging with each other. This is, in part, why we believe that camp is becoming more important than it’s ever been before.

Camp Trends 2018: Camp Management Software

Do most camps use a camp management software platform?

What are the tangible benefits?

Camp Trends 2018: Camp Management Software

9 in 10 camps use some sort of camp management software platform

Survey Question: Do you use any sort of camp management software platform?

Most of the industry now understands the significant, tangible benefits of using a paid system to manage their camp. What are the main reasons, however, that they identified as to why?

Camp Trends 2018: Camp Management Software

For camps that don’t use a management software, their staff bear the burden

Survey Question: Approximately what percentage of staff time would you estimate is spent handling registrations, updating records, and on general admin that a software could easily handle?

For the 9% of camps who still use spreadsheets and paper to manage their campers, they estimate that at least 10% of their staff time is spent on registrations and admin tasks.