For Camp Professionals
Our unique summer camp resources for camp professionals -- offering comprehensive information and valuable advice for profit and not-for-profit camp owners and operators.
Families look for camps that are ACA accredited because it means they are high-quality and safe programs. Every few years, the American Camp Association (ACA) visits summer programs to inspect their policies, procedures, and general program. This doesn’t have to be a stressful situation, especially since most visitors are camp peers or professionals who run their own programs.
Summer programs have to build their image if they want to keep enrollment up and find the best staff. Understanding how advertising works helps directors spread the way in an organic and effective manner. All it takes is understanding how to use the Internet, word of mouth of current participants and social media.
With thousands of camps opening their doors this summer, you may find it difficult to distinguish your camp from others in the crowded marketplace. In the Internet age, parents can easily compare dozens of camps and select one with a matchless program, unique specialty, or competitive marketing.
Summer camp enrollment in 2015 has soared. Every year, approximately 11 million children and adults attend a camp of this type in the United States. This number is continuing to grow as American parents are gradually seeing more of summer camp's positive effect on their children's self-esteem and social skills. There are two specific types of specialty camps that have retained their popularity or increased it in 2015: technology camps and athletic camps. The technology summer camp is currently the most explosively popular type of specialty camp. A nationwide review of summer camp trends in 2015 could be useful for professionals with an interest in the industry.
Many kids today are getting involved in activist causes, from environmental initiatives to human rights advocacy to local community development. Middle schools and high schools often require a certain number of community service hours, and in addition to supporting a worthy cause, volunteer work is fun and rewarding.
Camp should be a safe haven for kids, a place where they can learn, develop, have fun, feel comfortable being themselves, and experiment with new things. Unfortunately, as schools are experiencing a rise in bullying, so are camps. The old attitude of "kids will be kids" has been squelched by greater awareness that bullying can deeply damage young lives.
Parents worry. No matter how safe your camp is, the No. 1 thought on the minds of moms and dads will always be their child's well-being.
Cultural trends and common interests among kids change year to year, so why should camps stay the same? Many summer camps are developing unique programs for kids who want an incredible experience beyond S’mores and swimming.
How important is it to assemble a great summer camp staff? Consider this: When hundreds of excited, nervous kids step off the bus the first day, their counselors are the ones who greet them. When a worried parent calls, an administrator is the reassuring voice on the other end. When an emergency arises, when a kickball game needs another player, when a young nature enthusiast wants to identify a species of lizard, when a scraped knee needs some immediate TLC, or when someone needs to teach the spirit song, staff members are the ones who rise to the challenge.
As a summer camp director, your job doesn’t end when the school year begins. The year-round responsibilities of an administrator include preparing for next summer’s program, recruiting and training new staff, addressing parental concerns that crop up weeks or even months before or after camp, maintaining the facilities and equipment, and much more.
Nature has given a lot to summer camps. Without nature, we could not hike through the woods, swim in the lake, ride horses or build a bonfire on the beach. As a director, you can give back to nature by establishing patterns of healthy and sustainable living at your camp. No matter what type of program you run, going green will help the planet, set a good example for campers and staff, and make everyone’s experience more rewarding.
In the hectic months leading up to summer, when marketing your camp, registering campers, communicating with parents and preparing fun activities all compete for your time, it can be easy to overlook staff orientation. However, a helpful and thorough training session reduces stress and saves time and effort in the long run by ensuring that everyone understands his or her responsibilities. Staff orientation should unite the team, outline camp operations and procedures, smooth over any areas of concern and reinforce the camp’s philosophy.
For many families, summer camp marks a time of transition. Kids who have never lived away from their parents for longer than a night or two must now prepare to spend a week, a month or more in a new environment. Parents too must adjust as they allow their children to solve their own problems and become self-sufficient.
Ten years from now, what will the people who come to your camp remember about their summer experience? Realize that the flashiest multimedia and latest technologies become outdated in no time. Songs and cheers won’t stick in a person’s mind forever. The rules of a new game are quickly forgotten, and the adrenaline rush of an early morning hike or a trip down the zip line soon subsides.
Over the last four decades, American summer camps have undergone a staggering amount of growth, and despite the economic downturn, and the abundance of choice, the growth trend continues overall. With more than 12,000 summer camps in the United States, the summer camp industry has been a booming business; attracting hundreds of thousands job seekers and serving over 10 million children every year. Many of those remain in traditional day and overnight camps. However, the current trends gear towards activities, academics, and social entrepreneurship.