Web Exclusive - June 2016
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A Look at Trends in Camps

The category called "camps" in the Industry Report research covers a range of facility types. These include youth and private camps, which made up 4.7 percent of respondents, as well as campgrounds and RV parks, at 1.8 percent of respondents.

Camp respondents were representative of a variety of business types, with the largest number, 63 percent, reporting from private nonprofit organizations. Another 23.9 percent said they were with private, for-profit organizations, and 12.3 percent were with public organizations.

Like most respondents, those from camp facilities were most likely to be located in the Midwest. Some 40.1 percent of camp respondents said they were from the Midwest. Smaller numbers were from other regions, including 20.4 percent in the Northeast, 16.1 percent in the West, 12.4 percent in the South Atlantic, 10.2 percent in the South Central region, and 0.7 percent located outside the United States.

As might be expected, camp respondents were far more likely than their non-camp counterparts to be located in rural communities. Some 75.6 percent of camp respondents said they were in rural communities, compared with 30.7 percent of non-camp respondents. Another 20 percent of camp respondents were found in the suburbs, and just 4.4 percent were located in urban areas.

On average, camp respondents said they serve a population of 61,500 people. Some 71.3 percent of camp respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer people, while 14 percent serve an audience of 100,000 or more.

While camp respondents were less likely than many others to report that they partnered with outside organizations, a majority had done so. Some 78.5 percent of camp respondents said they had formed such partnerships. The most common partners for camps were: nonprofit organizations (60 percent); local schools (44.4 percent); colleges and universities (28.9 percent); local government (27.4 percent); and state government (22.2 percent).

Respondents from camps were twice as likely as non-camp respondents to report that their primary audience was made up of teens. They also were much more likely to have an audience of children ages 4 to 12. While 33.6 percent of camp respondents said their main audience was children ages 4 to 12, just 17.3 percent of non-camp respondents said this was their main audience. And, while 18.4 percent of camp respondents had a primary audience made up of teens ages 13 to 18, some 9.1 percent of non-camp respondents said this was their main audience. Nearly a third (32.8 percent) of camp respondents said they served all ages. Another 11.8 percent said adults ages 19 to 64 were their primary audience, 2.9 percent served seniors 65 and older, and 0.7 percent said college students were their primary audience.

Revenues & Expenditures

Well over half of camp respondents reported that their revenues were increasing year-over-year. From 2014 to 2015, 56.7 percent of camp respondents said their revenues had increased. Looking forward, 58.8 percent projected an increase for 2016, and 59.2 percent are expecting an increase in 2017.

Camp respondents reported a decrease of 22.2 percent to their average operating expenses from 2014 to 2015, from $1,229,000 to $981,000. Looking forward, they projected a 7.1 percent increase from 2015 to 2017, with a projected average operating expenditure of $1,051,000 in 2017.

On average, camp respondents reported that they recover 70 percent of their operating costs via revenue. Camp respondents were twice as likely as non-camp respondents to report that they recover 91 percent or more of their costs back via revenue. Some 32.1 percent of camp respondents recover 91 percent or more, while 16 percent of non-camp respondents do so. Conversely, 21.6 percent of camp respondents reported that they recover 50 percent or less of their operating costs back via revenue, compared with 47.6 percent of non-camp respondents.

A majority of camp respondents—84.3 percent—said they had taken action in the past year to reduce their operating expenditures. The most common actions taken were: improving energy efficiency (57.5 percent had done so); increasing fees (56.7 percent); putting construction or renovation plans on hold (39.6 percent); reducing staff (27.6 percent); and cutting programs or services (15.7 percent).

Camp Facilities

More than half of camp respondents reported that the number of people using their facilities increased from 2014 to 2015, and similar numbers expect to see further increases in usage over the next couple of years. Some 55.8 percent said usage of their facilities grew from 2014 to 2015. Another 53 percent expect to see an increase in 2016, and 57.6 percent projected increases to usage in 2017.

Camps are much more likely than non-camp respondents to report that they have plans for construction over the next three years. Some 81.2 percent of camp respondents said they had plans for construction, compared with 65.4 percent of non-camp respondents. Among camp respondents, 39.9 percent are planning to build new, 35.5 percent are planning additions, and 63.8 percent are planning renovations to their existing facilities.

On average, camp respondents are planning to spend $1,055,000 on their construction plans, 70 percent less than the average for the general survey population. This represents a 44.6 percent decrease from the construction budgets reported by camp respondents in 2015, of $1,904,000.

The 10 features most commonly included at camp respondents' facilities include: open spaces and natural areas; walking and hiking trails; Wi-Fi services; park shelters such as gazebos or picnic shelters; playgrounds; outdoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; waterfronts and marinas; campgrounds; restroom structures; and challenge courses and ropes courses.

Camp respondents were more likely than others to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. Some 56.5 percent of camp respondents said they would be adding features, compared with 41.8 percent of non-camp respondents.

The most commonly planned additions for camp respondents in 2016 include:

  1. Park shelters like gazebos and picnic shelters (planned by 25.6 percent of camp respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Disc golf courses (24.4 percent)
  3. Splash play areas (21.8 percent)
  4. Playgrounds (21.8 percent)
  5. Outdoor courts for sports like basketball and tennis (17.9 percent)
  6. Climbing walls (16.7 percent)
  7. Challenge courses or ropes courses (16.7 percent)
  8. Park restroom structures (14.1 percent)
  9. Bike trails (14.1 percent)
  10. Wi-Fi services (11.5 percent)
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