This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in operating sporting and recreational camps, such as boys' and girls' camps, and fishing and hunting camps. Establishments primarily engaged in operating sports instructional camps, such as baseball, basketball, football, or karate camps, and those operating day camps are classified in SIC 7999: Amusement and Recreation Services, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Recreational and Vacation Camps
In the mid-2000s approximately 11 million people attended one of the nation's 12,000 camps, according to the American Camping Association (ACA). About 60 percent of those camps were resident camps, 42 percent were day camps, and 31 percent offered both day and resident programs. Although the majority of camps were of the conventional summer camp variety, specialty camps that operated year-round and focused on one of a diverse range of subjects (such as accounting or space travel) were growing rapidly during the mid-2000s. Camps catering to adult participants were on the rise as well and ranged from dude ranches to nudist camps. The camp industry employed 1.2 million people who worked as camp counselors, program and activity leaders, and program directors and supervisors, as well as in numerous support services such as maintenance, administration, food service, and health care. The cost of attendance varied greatly from one facility to the next. Day camps typically cost between $75 to $300 per week, while the weekly rates for resident camps ranged from $200 to $400. However, specialty camps could run upward of $1,500 for a week's activities.
In the mid-2000s the camping industry generated about $19.8 billion in annual revenues and employed approximately 1.2 million people. Although the industry faced increasing competition from other summer activities, camping populations remained level. The number of school-age children (between the ages 5 and 14) was expected to increase, reaching 77.6 million in 2020, which boded well for the industry. Operating at over 90 percent capacity, campers were offered an ever-increasing array of choices, from a traditional experience of campfires and ghost stories to specialty camps to meet a wide variety of interests.
About 78 percent of the 12,000 camps in the United States were operated by nonprofit groups or agencies. These included religious institutions, scouting organizations, and such well-known groups as Camp Fire, Inc., YMCA, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The remaining 22 percent were privately owned, for-profit camps. In the United States there were not any companies that operated large chains of commercial camps.
Nearly 40 percent of the establishments in the sporting and recreational camp industry were tax-exempt, a figure that was considerably higher than the 9.6 percent across all service industries. The tax-exempt segment of the industry accounted for only about 35 percent of the revenue generated by the industry, while employing 41 percent of its workers. Whether tax-exempt or not, camps were generally small operations in comparison to the rest of the service sector. Nonprofit camps employed, on average, only six people per establishment compared to 39 per establishment in other nonprofit operations in the service sector.
Geographically, camps were usually found where one finds two necessary ingredients—people and space. New York and California, which have plenty of both, have the most sporting and recreational camps, with well over 200 American Camping Association-accredited establishments each. States in the northern Midwest, particularly Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, were also strongly represented in this industry, as were Pennsylvania and Texas.
A voluntary accreditation program has been administered by the American Camping Association (ACA) since the late 1940s. By the end of the twentieth century, roughly 2,300 U.S. camps were accredited by the ACA. Accreditation of a camp is established through an evaluation process based on up to 300 national standards. Trained volunteers visit the camp and, using a set of established guidelines, grade the facility in a variety of areas, including site and facility, administration, transportation, personnel, programs, health care, and activities. Site and facility criteria cover...