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How Much Does It Cost to Start a Summer Camp?

Summer Camp Business

It can be very difficult to stipulate the exact amount needed to start this business. Nonetheless, note that these businesses make money by responding to the needs of their customers and communities by carefully designing curricula and activities that emphasize their specific interests, goals, and objectives.

You will also find summer camps that offer outdoor activities such as hiking, building campfires, and canoeing. Reports have it that the summer camps industry has witnessed a massive demand over the years, with the latest statistics illustrating an average annual growth of 2.8% since 2010.

Nevertheless, you have to understand that establishing a successful summer camp business comes with a wide range of startup expenses. From renting or leasing a camp facility and training and developing staff to making available food and supplies, there are a whole lot of factors to take into account to guarantee high-quality services.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Opening a Summer Camp

  1. Rent/Lease of Camp Facilities

The rent/lease of camp facilities is without a doubt one of the most important factors that will determine how much you invest to start this business.

Keep in mind that the annual costs can range from a few hundred dollars up to hundreds of thousands. Although up-front costs are a pertinent factor to take into account, it’s also very necessary to evaluate the amenities the camp provides, accessibility, and the general condition of the property.

You have to understand that a camp that will draw people in will need to possess amenities like laundry, showers, restrooms, and other structures in order to maintain the quality of the camp experience. Most often, the cost of a lease or rental fee will depend on the capacity and number of activities offered to campers.

  1. Hiring Staff

You will need staff to run a summer camp business, and this will take up a good part of your startup capital. A good number of states in the United States possess laws that necessitate staff to have specific qualifying certificates such as First Aid, CPR, AED, and water safety.

There might very well be additional costs that come with obtaining or renewing those certificates. Also, note that the number of camp staff you hire will depend on the type of camp you’re running, the size of the camp, the type of activities you provide, and the age range of campers.

  1. Utilities (Electricity Cleaning Water etc.)

Aside from the cost of starting a summer camp business, you have to budget for operating expenses and the necessary utilities. One of the biggest expenses that will take a huge chunk of your capital is the cost of utilities, such as electricity, heating, cooling, cleaning, and water. Below are the costs of all the utilities you may need to start and run your camp.

  • Electricity: The average cost of electricity in the US is 12.93 cents per kilowatt-hour
  • Heating: The cost per therm in the US is 1.13 cents while the cost per gallon is 2.21
  • Cooling: The average cost of electricity for cooling a facility will be about 15.85 cents per kilowatt-hour
  • Cleaning: between $200-400 per cleaning.
  • Water: The average cost of water in the US was 2.25 cents per gallon.
  1. Promotional Campaigns

Summer camp businesses are known to put in substantial financial resources in promotional campaigns in order to boost registrations.

A good number of summer camps invest thousands of dollars each year in advertising and marketing to ensure they can be noticed by their intended customer base. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the right promotional campaigns for a summer camp will vary and will most often depend on your budget as well as your customer base.

Regardless of whether it is a local camp or a camp that meets the needs of international visitors, a camp will need to steadily devise a strategy to market itself as effectively as possible.

  1. Training and Professional Development

Another factor that will determine how much you need to start a summer camp business is Training & Professional Development (TPD). This more or less encompasses the expenses that come with training of staff and salaries for professional development activities and programs.

According to industry reports, the average annual Cost of Training and professional development for summer camp businesses falls between $500 to $3000 per employee. The essence of investing in Training & Professional Development is for the success of your business.

Putting money in TPD can also reduce turnover rates and make it possible for your business to be well-equipped to take care of any present and future challenges.

  1. Food/Beverage Supplies & Services

Another massive expense that comes with starting this business is the cost of food and beverage supplies and services provided to campers and guests.

The exact amount you spend here will depend on a wide range of factors, such as the size of the camp, the amenity level provided (such as vegetarian-friendly meals, catering services, and even vending machines), as well as the quality and quantity of the food offered. Keep in mind that no two camps are ever the same and as such the food and beverage budget will vary accordingly.

  1. Materials/Equipment

You will also have to invest a substantial amount to purchase the appropriate materials and equipment. According to reports, the average materials and equipment costs for US summer camps totaled $2,430 per camper. This amount encompasses expenses such as:

  • Sports equipment and supplies
  • Theft Prevention Devices
  • Pool Equipment and Supplies
  • Tools & Equipment
  • Recreational Equipment
  • Educational Supplies
  • Arts & Crafts Materials

Aside from the cost of making the purchase, don’t forget the materials and equipment also have associated maintenance costs that can vary widely and depend on the type of camp and its specific needs.

  1. Insurance Coverage

You can’t run this business without having the right insurance coverage. Insurance will most definitely have a massive impact on the financial resources of a summer camp; however, it is a necessary expense.

Insurance premiums often depend on the size and scope of a summer camp and its activities, but generally, insurance for a camp will cost around $1,000 to $25,000 per year. Insurance coverage for summer camps usually includes the following:

  • Liability coverage
  • Property coverage
  • Workers’ compensation


Starting and running a successful summer camp business needs adequate consideration as far as budgeting and calculating expenses come into play.

Being fully conversant with your startup cost as well as your operating costs and how to appropriately budget for them is very pertinent for businesses to remain profitable. Howbeit, the rewards of establishing this sort of business go past the financial gain.

You are creating the platform to provide a unique and life-changing experience for children while immersing them in nature and teaching them new skills.