February, It May be Too Late for Camp!

More and more parents around the country areconsidering summer camp as the opportunity of choice for theirchild. The popularity of the camp experience is increasingnationwide. The American Camping Association (ACA) reports summercamp enrollment has been increasing up to 10 percent each yearsince 1982. More than nine million children and adults attendedsummer camp last year, and the number is expected to increaseagain this summer.

“As parents discover the value of the campexperience for their children, early registration continues to bean important option to avoid the summer camp enrollment rush andto ensure parents that their child has a place in the camp oftheir choice,” states Peg Smith, executive director of theACA.

Camps commonly offer many types of early-birdincentives to parents and campers. And, just as early-registrationincentives are not uniform for all camps, specific dates for earlysign-up also differ, usually because of the popularity of camp inspecific areas of the country.

New England and New York

According to Bette Bussel, section executive of the AmericanCamping Association New England Section, as early as February,some camps in New England are already full with waiting list.”Some camps have discontinued early registration and siblingdiscounts [a common practice when siblings attend camp together;an enrollment discount of 3 to 10 percent is offered for onesibling] because they no longer need incentives to fill theircamps.”

“I suggest that parents speak to theowners/directors individually about any early-bird registrationpolicy and make their decisions as soon as possible.” statesJudith Winston, section executive of the ACA New York section.

Typical early-bird incentives include thefollowing:

Last year’s campers receive priority in registration

Campers receive free camp apparel with early registration by aspecified date.

Camper families can refer other families and receive a 5 percentdiscount on enrollment.

A free seat on the bus to camp if registered by a specified date.

Multiple camp session discounts often save you 10 percent ofenrollment costs.


Lee Smith of Camp Ondessonk recommends that campers in Illinois beregistered by the end of March at the latest. “ACA camps aretrying to get the message across that you can’t wait until Aprilor May to decide on a camp for your son or daughter. It’s not tooearly to be thinking about summer camp,” says Smith.

Examples of early-bird incentives for some campsin Mid-America include:

  • Discounts for returning campers who registerin January.
  • Early registration discounts throughDecember.
  • Free T-shirts if registered by February 15with all fees paid by May 15.
  • Discount of $75.00 if paid in full beforeDecember 31; discount of 5 percent if paid enrollment byFebruary 15; $50.00 discount for additional siblings; and$50.00 off each additional session.


Parents can expect early-bird opportunities for summer camp inTexas and Oklahoma to begin in January. “Common times forearly registration are mid-January then increasing to lateMarch,” says Danielle Shaw, section executive of the ACATexoma Section.

“In working with a day camp, most of ourcalls start coming in around the time that schools are havingSpring Bread,” comments Chris Strevel, section president ofthe ACA Heart of the South Section.


In California, many agency/municipal camps open registration onApril 1; they tend to have later registrations than private camps.Often private camps start early registration in the fall.”Camps seem to be filling their registrations earlier eachyear. To guarantee a space in the session of choice, it’s a goodidea to get started before the holidays,” recommends JayPoulter, section president of the ACA Rocky Mountain Section.

Sign up now? Thousands of camps across thecountry are available from which to choose, but you must make yourplans early. Contact a camp with your questions and find out theirsuggested times for registration. Find camp contacts through www.ACAcamps.orgor the American Camping Association’s 2001 Guide to ACA-AccreditedCamps, which is available for ordering online, via your localbookstore or directly from the ACA Bookstore by calling800-428-CAMP. It’s never too early to be thinking about giving thegift of camp to your child.

Founded in 1910, the American CampingAssociation is a national organization of camp professionals andis dedicated to a firm belief that the camp experience enricheslives and changes the world. ACA is the only organization thataccredits all types of camps based upon 300 standards for healthand safety.


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