Summer Camp Trends 2013

Gelena Blishteyn
Written by
for Camps USA
Summer Camp Trends 2013

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.


Hot Summer Camp Activities

Although summer camp activity trends in the early twenty-first century looked towards the growth of technology and offered various modern activities such as theater and computer technology, the majority of summer camps are currently focused on going back to a more traditional style. Parents today are becoming increasingly more concerned about their children's attachment to technology; summer camps across the United States are recognizing this and are attempting to return to a more grassroots style, complete with a focus on the outdoors and unplugged socialization. According to Chris Thurber, coauthor of "The Summer Camp Handbook", children are excessively exposed to technology during the school year, and can take a break for a few months for a wholesome experience in the outdoors. Some of the most popular activities at these summer camps include sports, archery, swimming, horseback riding, and hiking; all of these are activities that are unique to outdoor settings and develop children physically as well as emotionally. Trendiest activities focus on more than one developmental area and promote teamwork and/or independence, self-esteem, leadership and other personality traits will benefit youth in all settings, not just camp.

Academic Camp Trends

Academically focused summer programs are among of the most growing summer camp trends; as the job market looks progressively dimmer, parents are utilizing the summer months for extra education and college preparation for their children. Science camps, summer college admissions preparation camps, and camps that are affiliated with top tier universities have become increasingly more prevalent. Colleges such as Bryn Mawr College, Princeton University, Brandeis, and University of Chicago offer summer sessions for adolescents of varying ages. These camps serve to promote the college and educate students; in a time when finances are scarce and education has become crucial, both colleges and parents see the inherent value of academic summer programs. These programs are usually highly selective and could be expensive, but get teenagers an “in” to their top choice schools.

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Social Entrepreneurship Camp Trends

Social entrepreneurship camps is a newer trend, prompted by the age of successful start-ups like Google and Facebook; these camps provide a firm education in business strategy and encourage adolescents to utilize creative thought, responsibility and productivity. Summer programs such as the UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership and Sustainability focus on making more children independent thinkers who can make a profit without a dead-end desk job. These camps are for older kids, providing them with skills that can stick with them for the remainder of their adult lives. Social entrepreneurship camps have the advantage of incubator environments and attempt to instill creative business thought in children during their summer programs. Not everyone might like designing business strategy instead of pool time with friends but for the right teenager, this can be a life-changing experience.

The summer camp activities and focuses change with our environment and some of the ‘hot’ trends in 2013 certainly may not exist a century from now.  However, the concept of child development and building friendships during the summer will never become dull, and the industry will continue to adapt and evolve to the trends of society itself.

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