ACA Facts and Trends

Association Facts

  • Our mission is enriching the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.
  • Founded in 1910, ACA is a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.
  • Our Audience: 9,000-plus members encompassing all segments of the camp and youth profession, including educators, camp owners & directors, staff, executives, parents, and families.
  • ACA is the largest association serving the organized camp industry.
  • ACA is the only organization that accredits all types of camps, with up to 290 national standards for health and safety that are recognized by courts of law and government regulators. ACA accreditation is a standardized, voluntary system of review with a fifty-year history.
  • Our Reach: 2,400 ACA-accredited camps, employing more than 300,000 camp staff and serving over 5 million children. See more. (2010 ACA Camp Compensation and Benefits Report)

Camp Trends

National Data and Statistics*

  • $15 billion dollar industry (2012 ACA Business Operations Report)
  • More than 12,000 day and resident camps exist in the U.S., 7,000 are resident (overnight) and 5,000 are day camps. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Since 2002, the number of ACA day camps has increased by 69% and resident camps have increased by 21%. (CRM Camp Statistics Report, June 2013)
  • Each year more than 11 million children and adults attend camp in the U.S. (2010 ACA Camp Compensation and Benefits Report)
  • Nonprofit groups including youth agencies and religious organizations operate approximately 9,500 camps, and 2,500 are privately owned independent for-profit operators. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Camps employ more than 1,500,000 adults to work in various camp positions. (2010 ACA Camp Compensation and Benefits Report)
  • In the past 10 years, there has been an increase in the use of international staff to expose campers to different cultures. Nearly 20% of staff are from other countries. (2010 ACA Camp Compensation and Benefits Report)
     

ACA Camp Data and Statistics*

  • $2.8 billion industry (2012 ACA Business Operations Report)
  • 41 percent offer family sessions (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • 47% of camps offer specialized programs for individuals with disabilities. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • 47% are primarily resident (overnight) camps, 28 percent are primarily day camps, 26% offer both day and resident camps. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • More than 80 percent of ACA camps offer coed programs, 17 percent offer female-only programs, and 10 percent offer male-only programs. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • According to ACA’s National Outcomes study, females make up almost 60% of the total camp enrollment and males make up almost 40%.
  • Nearly 75% of camps report the same or more staff returning compared to last year. (2013 Spring Enrollment "Sneak Peek" Survey)
  • Camp Costs: Fees to attend camp vary: resident camp average = $690 week (can cost up to $2,000+ a week); Day camp average = $304 week (can cost up to $500+) as of 2012. There is a camp for every child and for every budget. (2012 ACA Business Operations Report)
  • 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. (2012 ACA Business Operations Report)
  • Programs: 87% of camps offer recreational swimming, 67% offer camping skills, 48% offer climbing/rappelling, 38% offer horseback riding, 78% teambuilding, 47% community service, 23% farming/ranching/gardening, and 28% wilderness trips. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Activities: Top five camp activities — Recreational Swimming, Arts/Crafts, Challenge/Ropes, Archery, and Aquatic Activities (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Camps adapt to the evolving interests of campers. According to ACA’s 2013 Emerging Issues survey:
    • In the past two years, camps have added programs such as adventure camps/programs (40.7%); family camps/programs (35.2%); nature/environmental education programs (31%); and gardening programs (28.3%).
    • Other new programs include college planning programs; health, wellness, and fitness programs; service learning / community service programs; and cooking with food from the camp's garden.
  • Over 50% of ACA-accredited camps offer ropes course activities or have other constructed adventure/challenge facilities. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Nearly half of camps report 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. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Two in five residential camps (40%) report some relationship to schools or school curricula. About half of these (22%) partner directly with schools as part of their academic programs during the school year. New partnerships with school systems are emerging as a way to help children retain learning over the summer. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)
  • Technology: Of the approximately 2,400 ACA-accredited camps, 86% use a Web site and 80% use social networking sites for marketing purposes. 74% of camps do not allow campers to use personal electronic devices at any time. 84% of camps use handwritten correspondence (letters/postcards) as a means of communication between campers and parents. (ACA 2013 Emerging Issues Survey)
  • Enrollment Trends: 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. (ACA Fall 2012 Enrollment Survey)

What Do Parents Think About Camp?

According to ACA’s 2005 Directions: Youth Outcomes of the Camp Experience report, 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

Parents also reported that the camp experience helped their child:

  • feel good about themselves
  • gain more self-confidence or self-esteem
  • increase in independence and show more leadership skills
  • increase their friendship skills and feel more socially comfortable
  • gain in their adventurousness and willingness to try new things

*Projected estimates based on survey results.

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