Web Exclusive - June 2012
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Camp Trends

A Look at Trends in Camps, Campgrounds & RV Parks

By Emily Tipping


Slightly fewer respondents in 2012 were from youth and private camps, campgrounds and RV parks. While 7.7 percent of 2011 respondents were from this type of facility, in 2012 that number fell to 5.7 percent.

Respondents from camps were most likely to be from the Midwest, with nearly one-third (32.8 percent) indicating they worked in that region. Another quarter (24.1 percent) were from the West, while nearly a fifth (19.8 percent) were from the Northeast. Smaller percentages were from the South Central (12.9 percent) and South Atlantic (10.3 percent) regions.

As you might expect, camp respondents were far more likely to report that they were from rural communities than respondents from other facility types. While around a third (33.5 percent) of all respondents were from rural communities, more than two-thirds (67.8 percent) of camp respondents worked in rural areas. Another quarter (24.3 percent) indicated that they worked in suburban communities, and 7.8 percent worked in urban areas.

Camp respondents were slightly less likely to indicate that their facilities were meant to serve all ages. At the same time, they were more likely to serve children and teens. More than a third (36 percent) of camps serve all ages, compared with 38.4 percent of all respondents. But nearly twice as many camps (30.7 percent) served children ages 4 to 12, compared with all respondents (16.2 percent); and 11.4 percent of camps served teens age 13 to 18, compared with 9 percent of all respondents.

Nearly three out of 10 (29.3 percent) of camp respondents indicated that they do not partner with other organizations, making these respondents the least likely to report that they form such partnerships. Their most common partners include nonprofit organizations (51.7 percent of camps partner with nonprofitst); local schools (35.3 percent); corporate or local businesses (25.9 percent); and colleges and universities (23.3 percent).

Usage, Revenues & Expenditures

From 2009 through 2013, camp respondents were more likely than others to report that the number of people using their facilities was falling. But starting in 2010-2011, they also were more likely than many other respondents to report an increase in usage, and the percentage reporting a decrease fell from 21.7 percent in 2009-10 to just 5.8 percent projecting a decrease from 2012 to 2013.

More than half of camp respondents saw an increase in usage in 2011 (53.9 percent), and more than six in 10 expect increases in 2012 (61.8 percent) and 2013 (65.4 percent), compared with lower numbers for all facility types for these years (51.6 percent in 2011, 54.4 percent in 2012 and 55.4 percent in 2013).

Camp respondents were far more likely than other respondents to report that their revenues had increased in 2010 and 2011, and were also more likely to expect further increases in 2012 and 2013. While 38.4 percent of all respondents saw an increase in 2010, and 37 percent saw an increase in 2011, those numbers jumped to 46.1 percent and 55.3 percent, respectively, for camp respondents. Further, 60 percent of camp respondents expect revenues to rise in 2012 (compared with 41.5 percent of all respondents), and 61.5 percent expect an increase in 2013 (compared with 42.1 percent of all respondents).

Camp respondents continue to be among the lowest spenders when it comes to operating costs, with an average annual operating budget for fiscal 2011 that was 41 percent lower than the across-the-board average. For all facility types, fiscal 2011 saw an average operating budget of $1,552,000, while camps reported an average budget of just $916,000.

However, camps reported slightly quicker growth in projected operating budgets over the next couple of years. While for all respondents, average operating budget is expected to increase by 5.1 percent, to $1,631,000, camp respondents projected an increase of 7.5 percent, to an average of $985,000.

A similar percentage of camp respondents reported that they had taken measures to reduce their operating expenditures in 2012, compared with 2011. In 2011, 91 percent had taken such measures, while in 2012 that number dropped slightly, to 90.2 percent. By far, the most common measure taken by camp respondents to reduce their operating expenditures was improving energy efficiency. In fact, camp respondents were more likely than many other facilities to have undertaken this endeavor. While 57.4 percent of all respondents said they had taken measures to improve energy efficiency, 61.6 percent of camp respondent had done so.

Other common measures taken to reduce operating expenditures among camp respondents included increasing fees (50.9 percent); putting construction or renovation plans on hold (43.8 percent); and reducing staffing levels (37.5 percent). They were far less likely than other respondents to report that they had cut programming or services (17 percent, compared with 30.1 percent of all respondents) or reduced their hours of operation (10.7 percent vs. 26.6 percent).

Nearly a quarter (24.1 percent) of camp respondents reported that they have plans to add staff in 2012, making them among the most likely to have such plans. They are, in fact, second only to community recreation and sports centers in this, and well above the across-the-board number of 15 percent who plan to add staff. Camp respondents will add an average of 13 new employees in 2012, dominated by seasonal workers and volunteers.

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