Updated: Mar 22
Though traditional summer camps that generally take place in rural environments continue to provide a range of activities including sports, hiking, games and numerous socially oriented activities, specialty camps focusing on primarily on a specific activity like sports, computer programming, travel, languages, weight loss, music and performing arts, robotics and special needs continue to grow. Both traditional and specialty camps strive to offer new and exciting activities as many children return to camp each year.
The first summer campers took place in 1861 when Frederick Gunn started a recreational camp in Connecticut for school children. Today, the American Camp Association estimates the summer camp market size to be $21 billion annually.
There are approximately 15,000 day and overnight summer camps in the United States: 7,000 overnight camps and 5,000 day camps.
11 Million children and adults participate in summer camping each year.
Slightly over 16% of kids in the US between the ages of 4 and 18 attend either day or overnight camp each year.
Camps employ approximately 1.3 million staff members annually.
Due to Covid in 2020, over 50% of overnight camps cancelled in-person activities and 25% of day camps were cancelled. In 2021, nearly 66% of camps were closed for the season and almost 1 million jobs were lost.
Virtually all summer camps anticipate opening in 2022.
In New York, Counselors-in-Training (CITs) have to be at least 16 years old at overnight camp and 15 years old at day camp.
American Camp Association. (2015). Business Operations Survey Report. Martinsville, IN: ACA.