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Web Exclusive - June 2019
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Trends in Camp Facilities

A Look at Trends in Camps


Respondents who represent camps in the Industry Report survey results make up a variety of types of facilities. Respondents from youth and private camps made up 3 percent of the survey population, while campgrounds and RV parks made up 2.1 percent of survey respondents.

Camp respondents represent a range of ways of doing business. More than half—52.1 percent—are from private, nonprofit organizations. Another 28.8 percent said they are with private for-profit organizations, and 19.2 percent are with public organizations.

Camp respondents were most likely to be located in the Midwest or Northeast. Some 40.3 percent of camp respondents said they were in the Midwest, while 25 percent were in the Northeast. Another 18.1 percent were in the West. Smaller numbers call the South Atlantic region (9.7 percent) or the South Central region (6.9 percent) home.

Not surprisingly, camp respondents were far more likely to be found in rural communities than in other types of communities, and they were more than twice as likely to be located in rural areas as non-camp respondents. Some 64.4 percent of camp respondents were in rural communities, compared with 31.4 percent of non-camp respondents. Another 28.8 percent of camp respondents said they were in suburban communities, and 6.8 percent were in urban areas.

On average, camp respondents said they reach a population of 91,700 people. That said, well over half (58.3 percent) of camp respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer people, while just 20.8 percent reach an audience of 100,000 or more.

Camp respondents were among those least likely to partner with outside organizations, though a majority—73.2 percent—do so. This compares with 88.8 percent of non-camp respondents. The most common partners for camps were: nonprofit organizations (46.5 percent of camp respondents had partnered with them); local schools (43.7 percent); local government (35.2 percent); state government (33.8 percent); and colleges and universities (26.8 percent).

Respondents from camps were most likely to report that the audience they reach is all ages. Some 39.7 percent of camp respondents said they reach all ages with their facilities and programs. The next largest group, 23.3 percent, primarily serve children ages 4 to 12. Another 19.2 percent said adults are their primary audience, and 13.7 percent named adults as their primary audience. Some 2.7 percent named seniors as their primary audience.

Revenues & Expenditures

Last year, 63 percent of camp respondents said they expected their revenues would increase in 2018. This year, 54.2 percent of camp respondents said their revenues had, in fact, risen, while 8.3 percent reported a decrease. Looking forward, more camp respondents are expecting revenues to increase in the coming two years, with 60 percent projecting an increase in 2019, and 69.7 percent projecting an increase in 2020.

Camp respondents this year reported an average annual operating expense for 2018 that was 55.7 percent higher than that for 2017, $1,370,000 vs. $880,000. Looking forward, they projected a further increase of 2.2 percent by 2020, to an average of $1,400,000.

On average, camp respondents said they recover 73.3 percent of their operating costs via revenue, a higher percentage than any other facility type covered by the survey.

Camp respondents were among the most likely to report that they had taken action in the past year to reduce their operating expenditures. Some 91.7 percent had done so, up from 82.1 percent in 2018. This compares with 79.8 percent of non-camp respondents who had taken such action. The most common actions taken to reduce costs included: increasing fees (49 percent); improving energy efficiency (46 percent); putting construction or renovation plans on hold (31 percent); reducing staff (16 percent); and cutting programs and services (12 percent).

Camp Facilities

Some 51.4 percent of camp respondents said that the number of people using their facilities increased from 2017 to 2018, down from 60 percent who saw a decrease in 2017. Looking forward, 53.5 percent expect to see increasing usage in 2019, and 50.8 percent are expecting increases in 2020.

Those from camps were the respondents most likely to report that they have plans for construction over the next three years. Some 83.6 percent of camp respondents are planning construction, compared with 69.9 percent of non-camp respondents. Nearly seven out of 10 (69.9 percent) camp respondents said they are planning renovations (up from 60 percent in 2018). Another 46.6 percent are planning new construction, and 42.5 percent are planning additions.

On average, camp respondents are planning to spend $1,540,000 on their construction plans, a substantial increase from 2018, when camp respondents were planning to spend $990,000.

The 10 features most commonly included at camp respondents' facilities include: park shelters; Wi-Fi services; open spaces such as natural areas; walking and hiking trails; campgrounds; playgrounds; waterfronts and marinas; outdoor sports courts; and outdoor aquatic facilities.

More than half (50.7 percent) of camp respondents said they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years, compared with 42.5 percent of non-camp respondents. The most commonly planned additions include:

  1. Disc golf courses (planned by 21.6 percent of those who will be adding features)
  2. Playgrounds (18.9 percent)
  3. Climbing walls (16.2 percent)
  4. Splash play areas (13.5 percent)
  5. Fitness centers (13.5 percent)
  6. Fitness trails or outdoor fitness equipment (10.8 percent)
  7. Dog parks (10.8 percent)
  8. Park shelters (10.8 percent)
  9. Bleachers and seating (10.8 percent)
  10. Community or multipurpose centers (10.8 percent)