The state of camps in 2022

Celebrations and Challenges

Summer camp has wrapped up and, as always, there are things that we have observed and learned about the state of camps in 2022 from another summer in the water, woods and cabins! We believe that observation is imperative for growth, and below are some of the things that we have discovered working with many camps and retreat centers throughout the United States over the last several months.

The Health of Your Camp Pre-COVID Made a Difference

Camps that were thriving and doing well pre-COVID saw a near return to their 2019 numbers. In fact, even the number of 2023 enrollments are up for camps that have already opened registration. This comes as a huge relief to staff and stakeholders after struggling through COVID over the last couple of years. We have also noticed an increase in stakeholder support, which can make a huge difference when it comes to your camp’s reputation and resources.

On the opposite end, camps that were struggling pre-COVID, now seem to be in crisis mode. Often smaller in size, these organizations were forced to lay off the majority of their team when COVID hit and really struggled to keep up during the pandemic. Unfortunately, these camps have had a difficult time getting back to sustainable numbers, and have had to face hard questions like, “can we keep going?”

When we work with camps that are struggling and must ask themselves these hard questions about the future of their organization, we challenge them to think about the following:

What’s the big, bold move you would make if there weren’t any boundaries or barriers? Can you do it now?

This type of questioning can prompt brainstorming and grandiose ideas that would not otherwise be considered. Often, it is these large-scale changes that can help to move the organization in the right direction. Struggling pre-COVID doesn’t mean that you are doomed to fail, it just means that you need a new, maybe bold approach in order to find success again.

The Staffing Struggle was Real

There was a staffing shortage throughout the nation that affected countless businesses, and camps were no exception. During the pandemic, some camps were even forced to do mid-summer cancellations as a result of staffing issues. This year, recruiting proved to be just as difficult, requiring more incentives and creativity to attract talent.

As summer comes to a close, consider ways to keep in touch with your team and foster a good relationship throughout the off-season. This will help when it comes time to recruit talent for next year, whether through referrals or return employment.  

Who You Have on Your Board Matters

More apparent than ever, camps are finding great value in having younger, willing-to-innovate  board members. They often bring a new perspective that benefits the organization in the following ways:

  • They are willing to make hard decisions and own the consequences
  • They are willing to put in strategic thinking 
  • They are willing to make bold moves that break the mold

Every board should consider adding next generation professionals  who are bold in their leadership, especially in times of challenge. By diversifying your board, you foster creativity and innovation, and adopt different ways of problem-solving.

Put Your Observations to Good Use

Chances are while observing operations over the summer, you have uncovered many opportunities for growth as well. This information is like gold! It can help you transform your organization if you take the time to evaluate the information you have received, brainstorm new ways to improve, and then implement these new ideas.

Don’t let the lessons you have taken away from this season go to waste! We certainly won’t when working with camps and retreat centers like yours. We believe all information is valuable and can be used as a tool for improvement.

We wish you continued success and growth for the rest of the 2022 season!

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