1. There are nearly 10,000 camps in the U.S. (about 60% are sleepaway camps) with over six million children attending camp each summer. Summer camp is a year round occupation which is quite unique as a business. Camp owners work for 12 months so that their camp can operate for 2 months.
2. Most camps (over 70%) are privately owned family businesses; 25% are organizational (non-profit), ie. Scouts, YMCA; and less than 5% are private corporations (companies).
Family or individual owners of camps occasionally have partners. Most (over 95%) private camp owners own only 1 camp. The camp business is a real hands-on hierarchy of command and control which necessitates the Owner/Director be present at all times. During the camp season, the Owner/Director may expect one day off (meaning off the camp premises) - many don't even take that.
3. History - Summer camp is truly an American phenomenon whose origins date back to the early 1900's. Many of the original camps are still in business today.
4. Financial (pertainining to private, for profit camps)- Average tuition: $2500 x Average stay: 4 weeks x Average # of children in camp 225, per four week session (or 450 per summer) = Average gross revenue per camp: $1,125,000 x 10,000 camps = Total industry: over 11 billion dollars.
With tremendous overhead costs (year round), a successful camp owner can live a comfortable lifestyle but certainly not extravagant. HIGH COST ITEMS: insurance, staff, marketing, food, maintenance of facility, telephone usage, travel. Average cost to operate a camp (this does not include mortgage payments): $750,000 to $1,000,000.
Typical profile of a camp owner - a person with a background in education, recreation, who possesses entrepreneurial ambition, a great love of children, and an appreciation for the total camp experience.
5. Condition of the camp industry - Quite strong and so long as children are born and parents must work to support the family this will continue. Traditional (general) camps which are the foundation of the industry continue to flourish. The industry has also diversified with a steady growth of specialty camps which concentrate either in a special area (ie. tennis, arts, wilderness, etc.) or provide for a special need (ie. weight loss, academic study, ESL, learning disabled, etc.). Specialty camps have a higher mortality rate than traditional camps due to the nature of the specialty, the narrow focus, and the more limited marketplace that they may appeal to.
Source: ©1997 - 2013 National Camp Association – www.summercamp.org