President Signs Executive Order That Helps Camps Using Public Lands

June 1, 2018
Grand Teton national park

On May 25, President Trump signed into law an exemption from Executive Order (EO) 13658 for Recreational Services on Public Lands, which will greatly help camps that operate on federal lands. EO 13658, signed in 2014, established a higher minimum wage and overtime requirement for federal contractors and permit holders.  Many camps partner with the US Forest Service and the National Park Service as outfitter-guides. Camp programs teach young people “Leave No Trace” skills and inspire respect for public lands. Unfortunately, the original EO 13658 posed a large threat to these camps.  The increased labor costs to comply with EO 13658 for multi-day trips would have resulted in a significant increase in camp tuition, making camp programs less available to low- and medium-income families and endangering the economic sustainability of these camps. The American Camp Association (ACA) strongly supported creating an exemption for camps and other entities that provide recreational services on public lands. ACA conducted multiple advocacy efforts this past year to raise awareness and generate support for this issue.

US Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke strongly supported the new Executive Order and noted, “The order will have a positive effect on rural economies and American families, allowing guides and outfitters to bring tourists out on multi-day hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping expeditions, without enduring costly burdens.”

The new exemption, which specifically cites camping and youth camps as allowable seasonal recreation services, provides relief from the minimum wage and overtime requirements in the original EO 13658. This was necessary to preserve the educational opportunities that camps are currently providing for children. ACA applauds the President, Secretary Zinke, and important Members of Congress who helped to make this exemption a reality, as this new law will have an immediate impact on camps that operate on federal lands.