Data and Statistics
- More than 12,000 day and resident camps exist in the U.S.
- Each year more than 11 million children and adults attend camp.
- Nonprofit groups including youth agencies and religious organizations operate approximately 8,000 camps, and 4,000 are privately owned independent for-profit operators.
- Camps employ more than 1,200,000 adults to work as counselors, program/activity leaders, unit and program directors/supervisors, and in support services roles such as maintenance, administration, food service and health care.
- 48% of camps report a staff return of 50% or more.
- In the past 10 years there has been an increase in the use of international staff to expose campers to different cultures.
- Of the estimated 12,000 camps in the U.S., approximately 7,000 are resident camps and 5,000 are day camps.
- The number of day camps in the U.S. has grown by nearly 90% in the past 20 years.
- Of ACA-accredited camps, approximately 12% are tour/travel camps, while 22% offer wilderness trips.
- 15% of ACA-accredited camps offer both day and resident camps.
- Camp Costs: Fees to attend camp can vary anywhere from $100 to $800+ per week. There is a camp for every child and for every budget.
- 90% of ACA-accredited camps offer some form of financial assistance to over one million children who are from economically deprived families, have special medical needs, or special situations that might preclude them from attending camp.
- Programs: 88% of ACA-accredited camps offer swimming, 48% offer horseback riding, 22% offer wilderness programs, 12% travel/tour programs, 57% teambuilding, and 21% community service.
- In an ACA survey, 75% of camp directors reported adding new activities and programs over the last few years. The newest program additions in recent years are challenging and adventurous activities, including high and low ropes courses, climbing walls, zip lines, backpacking, mountain biking, and cave exploring.
- Over 50% of ACA-accredited camps offer ropes course activities or have other constructed adventure/challenge facilities.
- In an ACA survey, over half of the camps reported having community service or good deed programs incorporated into their programs. The top projects conducted at camps were community clean-ups, food drives, recycling programs, and volunteering with senior citizens and hospital patients.
- School Trends: Nearly 4% of all students attend school year-round. Camps are extending the season and diversifying their services. The 1999 ACA-accreditation standards program changed from accrediting just the summer program to accrediting the year-round operation. New partnerships with school systems are emerging as a way to help children retain learning over the summer.
- Technology: Computers are now used not only for camp registration and financial records, but also for program scheduling and client data. Use of the Internet as a marketing tool continues to increase. ACA's Web site receives an average of over 120,000 visits a month and an average of 4,000 visits daily. Of the approximately 2,400 ACA-accredited camps, 79% have their own Web site.
- 65% of camps report enrollment that stayed the same or increased within the past five years, while 12% of camps reached capacity level and 35% of camps are reportedly 90-99% full. (Fall 2012 enrollment survey)
What Do Parents Think About Camp?
Parents cite the following as the most important reasons for sending their children to camp:
- Camp helps build self-confidence and self-esteem
- Camp is a safe environment
- Camp is a place to build social skills and make friends
ACA's opinion research reveals:
- Parents see fun and safety as most important to the camp experience
- Parents have very definitive perceptions of the value of camp for their children, believing developmental value is important - social and emotional growth - but this is secondary to providing their children with safe and secure facilities, along with positive and fun activities
- Parents were also surprised to learn that there is no government oversight of camps; they assumed that because camps involved children that some form of regulation was taking place. Most parents did not know that ACA accreditation was voluntary