Top 5 Summer Camp Trends in 2014
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.
Whether you’re launching a new camp or reinvigorating an existing one, take a look at five of the most popular trends in the industry and get inspired for 2014.
1. Health Camps
With topics like healthcare costs, childhood obesity, and a push for healthier foods dominating the cultural conversation, more and more health and fitness camps are cropping up.
Certain camps revolve around exercise, such as basketball, soccer, gymnastics, backpacking, track and field, scuba diving, or weightlifting. Sports programs have the advantage of offering an activity kids already enjoy that also helps them stay fit.
Another popular type of camp focuses on overall healthy living and eating. Campers learn the importance of daily exercise, sustainability, and nutritious food. Activities may include growing an organic garden, taking a cooking class, studying the effects of agricultural practices on the environment, and training for a team competition.
To capitalize on this trend, set healthy living standards for your camp, such as a cafeteria that serves nutritious meals and a daily schedule that includes active play, and advertise these features to parents and campers.
2. Specialty Camps
The U.S. has thousands of camps in operation, so programs that want to stand out from the crowd often concentrate on specific areas of interest, ranging from computer programming to lacrosse to creative writing. Colleges often use specialty camps as a promotional tool for high school students to experience coursework in a prospective major.
Running a specialty camp has the benefit of capturing a niche market. The list of hobbies, areas of study, and special interests is huge, so it's easy to distinguish your program as the only one in the area to offer classes in a certain subject. Parents and kids love this type of camp because, in addition to teaching friendship, cooperation, and other traditional values, specialty camps develop specific skill sets. On the other hand, since the camp may not appeal to everyone, attendance may fall short of the average summer camp.
Even if you run a general camp, you can still stand out by offering optional tracks during free time.
3. Volunteer Camps
Volunteerism has become more prevalent over the last several years, and many schools even require community service hours. Camps have answered this need by providing opportunities for kids to serve in their communities.
Volunteer programs range from environmental care to urban arts development to political activism and often partner with churches and non-profits. A volunteer camp can be service-oriented, where staff lead kids in cleaning up a park, distributing food at a shelter, or even embarking on an overseas mission trip. They can also be education-oriented, focused more on discussing current world issues.
At volunteer camps, kids broaden their understanding of the world and learn important lessons such as compassion, activism, cooperation, and generosity. Consider the needs of your community and ways your campers can get involved.
4. Performance Camps
With the popularity of reality competition shows, performance camps are a growing trend. Kids who dream of lighting up the stage can attend camps for singing, dancing, acting, and similar arts.
Depending on the program, kids may have the chance to compete in the style of a TV show like Dancing with the Stars or The Voice, collaborate on a performance for an audience, or learn the history and techniques of an art. Jazz contests, Hollywood stunt classes, talent shows, and similar programs appeal to children who want to pursue a career in the performing arts as well as those simply interested in an industry.
Many children who aren't attracted to traditional or nature camps may love the option to exercise their creativity. Performance camps can prepare students for a college major or more demanding competitions down the road, and presenting in front of an audience boosts confidence, self-esteem, and work ethic.
5. Special Needs Camps
The efforts of awareness groups have generated more special needs programs, where kids with disabilities can stay active and have fun in a safe, nurturing environment.
Some camps cater to anyone with special needs while others are designed for a specific subset, anything from ADHD to deafness to cancer. In addition to those for physical and mental disabilities, summer camps exist for special populations like foster children, military families, and at risk teens. General camps can also train staff to assist with special needs students.
Special needs programs enable children to attend summer camp who otherwise couldn't. By implementing special needs services, you can help kids feel accepted, embrace their potential, and make friends in a similar situation.
As another summer draws near, keep in mind the current trends and needs of families while you prepare your camp's agenda.