Trends for the 2013 Camp Season

February 22, 2013
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By American Camp Association

Camp has been an American tradition for more than 150 years. Some things at camp – forming friendships, having fun, practicing new skills, and summer learning gains – will never change. But what are the camp trends today?


Who goes to camp?

Happy Hollow Children’s Camp, Nashville, Ind.

Happy Hollow Children’s Camp,
Nashville, Ind.

The American Camp Association (ACA) estimates that there are 12,000 traditional, organized camps in the U.S. Each year more than 11.5 million children, youth and adults attend camp. Today we see a wide range of ages participating in the camp experience: From children as young as 3 participating in day camp programs to senior adults, participating in family camps and senior camps. The ACA has a vision that by the year 2020, more than 20 million children and youth will have a camp experience each year.


What types of camps are most popular?

Traditional camps are still very popular – maybe more popular today than even a decade ago, as young people are very concerned about the environment, global awareness, mentorship and getting along with one another. The camp community embraces those values.

Camp Howe, Goshen, Mass.

Camp Howe,
Goshen, Mass.

There has also been a rise in the popularity of specialty camps, day camps and family camps as camps constantly adapt to meet changing needs of families. Many young people like to use the camp experience to sharpen a special skill or develop new ones. Even traditional camps are offering year-round camp experiences, as well as any number of specialty programs. This exciting diversification is an example of how the camp community is meeting the needs of today’s families.

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What activities are popular?

The most popular activities at camps today are swimming, arts/crafts, challenge/ropes course, archery and aquatic activities. In addition, ACA research shows 52 percent of day camps and 50 percent of resident camps offered one or more academic/science and technology programs. More than 4-in-5 ACA-accredited residential camps offer at least one environmental education program for campers.

Whatever the activity, camp gets kids moving! While at camp, campers are typically active 3 to 5 hours per day. This exceeds the recommended daily amount of physical activity from the CDC (one hour per day).


With so many options, how do I find the right camp?

YMCA Camp Willson/YMCA of Central Ohio, Bellefontaine, Ohio

YMCA Camp Willson/YMCA of Central Ohio, Bellefontaine, Ohio

There is a camp for every child, every interest, and every budget! The American Camp Association’s Find a Camp database helps families find the perfect camp experience – whether it’s a traditional, day, specialty, family or even trip or travel camp. Visit to start your search, and be sure to check out the expert advice, packing tips, and more.


About ACA

The American Camp Association® works to preserve, promote and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards.

For more information, visit


Reprinted from by permission of the American Camp Association; copyright 2013 by the American Camping Association, Inc.

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