Summer camp registration is not conducive to reading the New York Times

Sunday morning, sleeping till 10 am, a hot cup of coffee and the New York Times … I’m only dreaming and fantasizing. Instead, 3 kids are doing a ton of homework, and I’m filling out page after page after page of summer camp forms.

For most popular summer camps (both sleep away and day camps), registration is being ramped up now – yes – in January for summer! Isn’t this crazy? To benefit from early registration discount pricing … summer camp forms are now due.

I was floored to discover that for certain camps, parents are REQUIRED to buy merchandise from only 1 approved vendor on the camp’s list. For instance, I am FORCED to buy 3 camp T-shirt at $14.95 each, 1 camp sweatshirt at $29.95 each, a water bottle at $8.99, a visor cap at $15.99, and 2 dirty laundry bags at $14.95 each.

E x c u s e M e … but I think I could have gotten a laundry bag at Target for $4.95.
Why do camps require you to purchase merchandise with their logos plastered on every imaginable product? Because camps have become sophisticated B I G businesses with marketing, merchandising, branding and profit margins.

Did I mention that the total camp industry is over 11 billion dollars, according to Jeff Solomon, Executive Director of the National Camp Association (NCA)? I asked all the MOMS I know, and according to my social network of friends, I estimate that sleep away camps range in price from $3,000 to $8,000 for 1 four-week overnight session. According to CampRatingZ, which surveyed 1825 camps, their top 3 rated camps cost for a 4 week overnight session: $1965, $4650, $3100 respectfully.

Figures from the NCA indicate the camp industry is huge … with nearly 10,000 camps in the U.S. (about 60% are sleep away camps) with over six million children attending camp each summer, Summer camp is a year round occupation which is quite unique as a business. Camp owners work for 12 months so that their camp can operate for 2 months. Most camps (over 70%) are privately owned family businesses; 25% are organizational (non-profit institutions.

I remember my summer camp experiences … swimming, hiking, biking, putting up tents, sitting by the campfire telling ghost stories at night ---- ah, what it would be like to be a kid again.

Three well known associations can help you find the right camp for every child allows you to customize your search for the perfect summer camp and identify camp programs that best fit each camper and camp family:American Camp Association National Camp Association Camp Ratingz

Supplies and camping gear can be found at the following:

Duluth Pack - Superior quality backpacks, travel bags, laptop cases and luggage

Sierra Trading Post - Sports equipment, apparel, and outdoor gear. Save 35-70% on products from Patagonia, Woolrich, Sportif USA, North Face, Marmot, ExOfficio, Teva, Carhartt, Eagle Creek, New Balance, Merrell, Ecco, Mephisto and SmartWool

Northwest River Supply - Kayaking gear and accessories -- clothing, life jackets, sprayskirts, paddles and other kayak accessories for white water, ocean waves or placid inland waters.

Brigade Quartermaster -Everything you need in outdoor and wilderness survival gear including compact emergency shelter, MRE's and communication equipment.

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