2020 North American Summer Camp Trends Report

Together, let's elevate the industry.

The Results Are In!

Is your summer camp behind the curve? Ahead of the game? And how do you know?

Last year we surveyed hundreds of camps of all sizes, compiling a significant amount of data on our industry. We asked them about their growth plans and programs, and how they ran their camps. But…that was so 2018. We’re about to begin a whole new season, and we want to arm you with the most up to date information we can.

Welcome to the 2020 North American Summer Camp Trends Report!

Survey Areas

Survey Methodology

Demographics

Tuition & Revenue

Sessions & Programs

Registration Data

Marketing Channels

Enrollment Trends

Technology at Camp

Camp Management Software

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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!

2020 Camp Trends Report: Demographic Data

Where are most summer camps located in the US?

What type of camps are they?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Demographic Data

Over half of surveyed camps are in the Northeast

The Western region reported 12% of all camps, and the Midwest and South regions contribute 10% and 22% 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 4 Canadian camp respondents, we didn’t have a large enough sample size to include in the final data set.

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Money Matters

What are camps charging for tuition?

What are camps earning in gross revenue?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Revenue Data

Camps are asking for – and getting – substantial tuitions

Survey Question: What is your average tuition per week?

50% of respondents’ camps charge $1,000 or more per session, while 50% charge less than that.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Revenue Data

Higher tuitions mean higher revenue

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

51% 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Sessions & Programs

How many campers do you serve per session?

What do people love most about your camp?

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Session Data

Nearly 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 2020 year?

Approximately 73% of camps feel dialed-in when it comes to the number of sessions they currently offer, however, more than quarter of camps are planning to change things up in 2020.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Session Data

Almost 7 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Registration Data

When do most camps open registration?

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

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Registration

More than one-fourth 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Marketing Matters

What marketing channels do you see the most results from?

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Enrollment Trends

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

2020 Camp Trends Report: Enrollment Trends

Great news: 85% of camps reported growth or consistent business year-over-year

Survey Question: Did you see any differences in enrollment numbers this year (2019) compared to last year (2018)?

This is a good sign for the state of the industry; 35% of camps didn’t just see marginal enrollment increases. Between 4 and 15% growth is fantastic. And with 50% 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Enrollment Trends

The trend continues into 2020: most are anticipating consistent numbers or significant growth

Survey Question: What do you expect for your enrollment in 2020?

Camp Trends 2018: Tuition Trends

Are tuition costs on the rise?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Tuition Trends

A whopping 76% of camps increased their fees last year

Survey Question: Did you make any changes to your camp tuition fees in 2019?

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 2019. But for those who increased tuition, how much did they increase it?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Tuition Trends

In 2019, tuition increases of 3-5% were most common

Survey Question: How much did you increase your camp tuition fees in 2019?

12% of camps, however, increased by a larger margin of 5-10% or more – which is significant!

2020 Camp Trends Report: Tuition Trends

In 2020, 74% of camps plan to increase tuition costs

Survey Question: Do you expect to make any changes to camp tuition for 2020?

With nearly 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?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Tuition Trends

In 2020, 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 2020?

Another 7% of respondents are going for more aggressive tuition increases.

Camp Trends 2018: Technology at Camp

How are camps treating tech?

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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 79% of camps surveyed keep it screen-free. What about those with ‘limited use’ policies?

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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.

2020 Camp Trends Report: Camp Management Software

Do most camps use a camp management software platform?

What are the tangible benefits?

2020 Camp Trends Report: Camp Management Software

Over 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?

2020 Camp Trends Report: 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.