Web Exclusive - June 2020
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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 3.2% of the survey population, while campgrounds and RV parks made up 2.5% of survey respondents.

Camp respondents represent a range of ways of doing business. The largest number—54.7%—are from private, nonprofit organizations. Another 29.3% percent said they are with private for-profit organizations, and 16% are with public organizations.

Nearly half (46.7%) of camp respondents said they were located in the Midwest, a big change from 2019, when camp respondents were much more geographically dispersed, and only 23.5% were in the Midwest. In 2020, fewer camp respondents were located outside the Midwest. Some 25.3% were to be found in the West, 13.3% were in the Northeast, 9.3% were in the South Atlantic region, and 5.3% were located in the South Central region of the United States.

Camp respondents were far more likely to be found in rural communities than in other locations. Nearly two-thirds (65.3%) of camp respondents said they were in rural areas. Another 22.7% were in suburban communities, and 12% said they were in urban communities.

Camp respondents were among the least likely to report that they had partnered with outside organizations. While 89.7% of non-camp respondents were involved in such partnerships, 76.7% of camp respondents had partnered with outside organizations, down from 80% in 2019. The most common partners for camps in 2020 were nonprofit organizations (58.9%), local schools (47.9%), and colleges and universities (38.4%).

Respondents from camps were most likely to report that they reach an audience of all ages. Some 44.6% of camp respondents said they reach all ages with their facilities and programs. The next largest group, 20.3%, primarily serve children ages 4 to 12. Another 17.6% said adults are their primary audience, while 13.5% primarily reach teens, and 4.1% primarily reach seniors.

Revenues & Expenditures

The percentage of camp respondents who reported that their revenues had increased year-over-year was up slightly for 2019, with 55.4% of camp respondents reporting that their revenues had increased from 2018. This compares with 54.2% who reported an increase from 2017 to 2018. Another 29.7% of camp respondents said their revenues held steady in 2019, and 14.9% reported a decrease.

In January 2020 when the Industry Report Survey was taken, camp respondents were very optimistic about the year to come, with 69.3% expecting revenues to increase over 2019, 29.7% projecting no change and 4% expecting a decrease.

The COVID-19 Update Survey taken in early May showed the majority (92.3%) of camp respondents were now projecting a decrease in revenues in 2020, with 7.7% expecting no change. Some 15.3% of camp respondents were expecting revenues to be down by 10 to 20% in 2020. Another 38.5% were expecting a decrease of 30 to 40%, and 38.5% were expecting revenues to fall by 50% or more in 2020.

Camp respondents in 2020 reported that their operating expenses in 2019 were 21.2% lower than in 2018, falling from an average of $1,370,000 to $1,080,000. Looking forward, they projected an increase of 10.2% from 2019 to 2021, to an average of $1,190,000.

On average, camp respondents said they recover 74.4% of their operating costs via revenue, a higher percentage than any other facility type covered in the survey, and up from 73.4% in 2019.

Camps were more likely than other respondents to report that they had taken action over the past year to reduce their operating costs. Some 87.8% of camp respondents said they had taken such action, compared with 80.8% of non-camp respondents. The most common actions camp respondents had taken to reduce their costs include: improving energy efficiency (60.8%), increasing fees (56.8%), putting construction and renovation plans on hold (35.1%) and reducing staff (20.3%).

Camp Facilities

Camp respondents were the most likely to report that they had plans for construction over the next three years. Some 85.3% of camp respondents said they were planning construction, down slightly from 85.9% in 2019. Some 37.3% of camp respondents said they were planning new construction, while 41.3% were planning additions, and 69.3% were planning renovations.

On average, camp respondents were planning to spend $2,170,000 on their construction plans. This represents a 40.9% increase from 2019, when camp respondents planned to spend an average of $1,540,000.

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

Camp respondents were among the most likely to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. Some 58.7% of camp respondents said they had such plans (up from 52.9% in 2019), compared with 42.4% of non-camp respondents.

The most commonly planned additions were:

  1. Disc golf courses (planned by 20.5% of camp respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Challenge courses (20.5%)
  3. Splash play areas (18.2%)
  4. Park shelters (18.2%)
  5. Playgrounds (15.9%)
  6. Nature centers (15.9%)
  7. Outdoor sport courts (13.6%)
  8. Fitness centers (13.6%)
  9. Climbing walls (11.4%)
  10. Outdoor aquatic facilities (11.4%)