The Financial Feasibility Of Growing A Camp

Photos Courtesy Of: Daniel Walker

Photos Courtesy Of: Daniel Walker

 Camp is an exciting place—a place of growth, learning, trying new things, testing the waters, searching, and wonder. Is it so difficult to imagine why camp leadership loves to build or try new concepts? But a camp cannot afford for opportunities to get in the way of a successful operation. Therefore, it is important to determine the costs of growing a camp. From starting a new program to hiring additional staff members to building a state-of-the-art auditorium—what does it cost?

Add Up The Costs

In determining the feasibility of an idea, for example, consider the return on investment, additional staffing that may be needed, infrastructure, and the costs of buildings that sit empty. As far as the return on investment, be as accurate as possible in determining annual revenue on a new program or a new building. The potential for life-changing decisions is sometimes priceless, but if it leads to bankruptcy, then the ability to continue offering a space for life change is likely terminal. Will the generated funds pay for any potential loans? Will the new revenue pay for additional staff members to market the program, and also pay for operations? Don’t forget about maintenance and additional utilities like water, electricity, propane, sewage, and trash. Telephone lines, internet/network, and security systems also will be needed. And, insurance costs will most likely increase. 

Fill Existing Bunks And Buildings

One possibility to consider: Instead of a new building, try filling existing buildings. What is the current occupancy rate? (Total the number of pillow spaces available and multiply by 365 nights. This is the total number of guest nights in a year that you can potentially have. Divide the existing number of guest nights by the potential number of guest nights. That will reveal the percentage of occupancy.) Actually, most hotels must maintain an average occupancy rate of 80 percent; otherwise, they will likely close. Camps may want to keep this figure in mind, even though they may rely on donations as part of their revenue. 

Give Campers What They Want

To attract new campers or bring former campers back for additional sessions, adjust existing programming. Are current programs meeting the perceived needs of today’s children and youth? Bows and arrows may no longer be among the trends in recreational activities. Do you have specialty camps that attract kids who want to start their own band or program mobile apps? Is there an opportunity for campers to create and edit videos? Perhaps they can take turns serving drinks or food at the camp snack shop—this is good training for customer service and merchandising. Kids like to feel important. Giving them some responsibility in the operation just may raise their interest and provide a little training at the same time. What about service trips on which teens volunteer in a soup kitchen or thrift store? Have a parents’ day, allowing them to purchase meals and a day pass, which gives them the opportunity to participate with their child. 

Readjust The Schedule

To add a few more dollars to the budget, reconfigure the number of weeks available in the summer. Consider this … start summer camp on Memorial Day Monday and end it on Friday, or host a rental group starting Friday night that ends on Tuesday, and begin the next summer camp on Tuesday afternoon, thereby filling all summer nights. Ten

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Making Camp Sticky
  2. Post-Camp Check-Up
  3. Take Camp On The Road
  4. College/Camp Connection
  5. Create A Camp Internet Policy
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers