A Look at Trends in Camps
The category referred to as "camps" in the Industry Report research covers a range of facility types. These include youth and private camps, which made up 5.1 percent of respondents, as well as campgrounds and RV parks, which made up 1.5 percent of survey respondents.
Camp respondents represent a range of ways of doing business. The largest number—65.8 percent—are from private nonprofit organizations. Another 23.7 percent said they were with private for-profit organizations, and 10.5 percent said they were with public organizations.
Like most respondents, those from camp facilities were most likely to be located in the Midwest. Some 30.4 percent of camp respondents said they were from the Midwest. They were followed by the Northeast, home to 21.4 percent of camp respondents. smaller numbers were from other regions, including 19.6 percent in the South Atlantic region, 19.6 percent in the West, and 8.9 percent in the South Central states.
Not surprisingly, camp respondents were far more likely than others to be located in rural communities. More than three-quarters (75.2 percent) of camp respondents said they were located in rural areas, compared with just 30.8 percent of non-camp respondents. Another 17.7 percent of camp respondents said they were located in suburban communities, and 7.1 percent said they could be found in urban areas.
On average, camp respondents said they serve a population of 118,000 people. That said, a majority of camp respondents, 59.8 percent, said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer people. Only 22.3 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 77.7 percent of camp respondents said they had formed such partnerships. The most common partners for camps were: nonprofit organizations (63.4 percent); local schools (41.1 percent); local government (25.9 percent); corporate or local businesses (25.9 percent); and colleges and universities (22.3 percent).
Respondents from camps were much more likely than non-camp respondents to report that their primary audience was made up of teens. They also were more likely to have an audience of children ages 4 to 12. While 27.2 percent of camp respondents said their audience was made up of teenagers, only 8.1 percent of non-camp respondents named this as their primary audience. And, while 37.7 percent of camp respondents said their primary audience was children ages 4 to 12, only 17.7 percent of non-camp respondents named this as their primary audience. Another 25.4 percent of camp respondents said they serve an all-ages audience, while 8.8 percent reach adults ages 19 to 64, and 0.9 percent said they serve seniors 65 and older as their primary audience.
Revenues & Expenditures
Well over half of camp respondents reported that their revenues were increasing year-over-year. From 2015 to 2016, 56.8 percent of camp respondents said their revenues had increased, while 6.3 percent reported a decrease. Looking forward, 58.2 percent are expecting revenues to increase in 2017, and 61.5 percent are expecting an increase in 2018.
Camp respondents reported a slight increase of 1.8 percent to their average operating expenses from 2015 to 2016, from $981,000 to $999,000. Looking forward, they projected a further increase of 1.6 percent from 2016 to 2018, with a projected average operating expenditure of $1,015,000 in 2018.
On average, camp respondents reported that they recover 67.3 percent of their operating costs via revenues. They were twice as likely as non-camp respondents to report that they earn back at least 81 percent of their operating costs. Some 44.5 percent of camp respondents said they recover at least 81 percent of their operating costs back, compared with 22.3 percent of non-camp respondents. Conversely, only 25.5 percent of camp respondents said they earn back 50 percent or less of their operating costs, compared with 47.3 percent of non-camp respondents.
Camp respondents were more likely than those from any other facility type to report that they had taken action in the past year to reduce their operating expenditures. Some 90.1 percent of camp respondents said they had taken such action. They were more likely than other facility types to report that they had improved energy efficiency (61.3 percent), increased fees (62.2 percent) or put construction plans on hold (37.8 percent).
More than half of camp respondents reported that the number of people using their facilities increased from 2015 to 2016, and similar numbers expect to see further increases in usage over the next couple of years. Some 53.2 percent said usage of their facilities grew from 2015 to 2016. Another 54.1 percent expect to see an increase in 2017, and 56.9 percent projected increases to the number of people using their facilities in 2018.
Camps were much more likely than non-camp respondents to report that they have plans for construction over the next three years. Some 84.2 percent of camp respondents said they have plans for construction (up from 81.2 percent in 2016), compared with 67.2 percent of non-camp respondents. Among camp respondents, 41.2 percent said they are planning new construction, while 43.9 percent are planning additions and 63.2 percent are planning renovations.
On average, camp respondents are planning to spend $819,000 on their construction plans, 80.9 percent less than the average for the general survey population. This represents a 22.4 percent decrease from the average construction budget reported by camp respondents in 2016, of $1,055,000.
The 10 features most commonly included at camp respondents' facilities include: open spaces and natural areas; walking and hiking trails, waterfronts, marinas and beaches; Wi-Fi services; campgrounds; park shelters; outdoor sports courts; playgrounds; classrooms and meeting rooms; and natural turf sports fields.
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 50.9 percent of camp respondents said they would be adding features, compared with 40.8 percent of non-camp respondents.
The most commonly planned additions for camps in 2017 include:
- Disc golf courses (planned by 22.4 percent of camp respondents who will be adding features)
- Challenge courses or ropes courses (22.4 percent)
- Park shelters (20.7 percent)
- Splash play areas (15.5 percent)
- Fitness trails or outdoor fitness equipment (15.5 percent)
- Wi-Fi services (15.5 percent)
- Open spaces (13.8 percent)
- Climbing walls (13.8 percent)
- Playgrounds (12.1 percent)
- Nature centers (10.3 percent)
The most common programs found among camp respondents' facilities include: day camps and summer camps (offered by 71.9 percent of camp respondents); arts and crafts (68.4 percent); camping (64 percent); water sports such as kayaking and canoeing (57 percent); teen programs (55.3 percent); educational programs (54.4 percent); holidays and other special events (49.1 percent); environmental education (39.5 percent); climbing (36.8 percent); and trips (30.7 percent).
Some 29.8 percent of camp respondents said they are planning to add programming at their facilities over the next three years.
The 10 most commonly planned program additions for camp respondents include:
- Educational programs (no change from 2016)
- Environmental education (up from No. 4)
- Day camps and summer camps (up from No. 9)
- Holidays and other special events (down from No. 3)
- Festivals and concerts (did not appear in 2016)
- Trips (up from No. 7)
- Mind-body balance programs such as tai chi and yoga (up from No. 8)
- Arts and crafts (did not appear in 2016)
- Aquatic exercise programs (did not appear in 2016)
- Camping programs (down from No. 2)