New Wisconsin Summer Camp Economic Impact Study Highlights Important Role of Camp Industry

March 30, 2021

Martinsville, IN – (March 30,2021) – A new study conducted by Neighborhood Analytics, LLC, in Wauwatosa, WI, and the Strategic Research Institute at St. Norbert’s College in De Pere, WI, focuses on the 348 day and overnight camps in Wisconsin that annually serve more than 600,000 campers.

Collectively, year-round and summer camps in Wisconsin contribute 7,844 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs to the state annually, with an estimated statewide impact of $717 million in economic activity. This is supported by the direct and significant effect camps have on the state economy, with $184.8 million in labor income and $518.5 million just from operating expenditures. The new study details how a single overnight camp in one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties contributes, on average, $2.3 million in economic activity to that county.

In addition, 52.5 percent of camps that participated in the study operate year-round programming, representing job security and viable career paths in the Wisconsin camp industry.

Beyond the substantial economic impact of summer camps in Wisconsin, it is important that we share the positive social-emotional learning outcomes achieved through the Wisconsin camp experience. Laurie Browne, PhD, director of research at the American Camp Association (ACA) and a Wisconsin camp staff alumni from Clearwater Camp for Girls, shared, “Decades of summer camp research now shows how incredibly beneficial the camp experience is for youth.” Beyond attending camp, Dr. Browne highlights how “the opportunity to work at camp provides young adults with a skill set that’s beneficial in college and early in their careers.”

Camp Director Maggie Braun of Camp WeHaKee, said, “When young adults work at camp it’s a win-win-win for the state of Wisconsin, positively impacting the economy, supporting the social-emotional health of our children, and providing young adults with college-ready skills and early career strategies for success.”

Summer camp is clearly an integral experience for campers and families in Wisconsin, a tradition started in 1906 by Camp Helen Brachman and an important industry for the future of children across the state. Of the camps that participated in the study, most reported revenue between $1 million and $2.5 million annually. “While the camp industry is still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, camps may be able to serve more campers this summer and next if the state provides camps with the opportunity to apply directly to the state for out-of-school and outdoor recreation funding from the American Recovery Act Plan,” said Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association.

With approximately 830,000 children of school age, Wisconsin camps’ legacy of economic contributions and playing a crucial role in child development is secure. “Camp continues to provide whole-child health through time away from technology, opportunities to spend time outdoors in nature, access to new experiences, and 21st-century learning skills unique to the camp experience,” said Rosenberg. “Our kids will need camp experiences to recover from the isolation and disruption brought on by the pandemic. Summer camps in Wisconsin are ready to answer the call to serve our kids this summer and beyond.”

 

Report: 2020 Wisconsin Camp Economic Impact Findings

Infographic: Summer Camp Impact in Wisconsin

 

About American Camp Association 

The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization serving the more than 15,000 year-round and summer camps in the US who annually serve 26 million campers. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy, evidence-based education, and professional development, and is the only independent national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. ACA accredits more than 2,400 diverse US camps. ACA Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp's voluntary commitment to the health, safety, risk management, and overall well-being of campers and staff. For more information, visit acacamps.org or call 800-428-2267.