Summer camp plays a more important role than just getting junior out of the house when the school term is over, a new report shows. In the Northeast it's an economic lifeline that pumps billions of dollars into the economy.
The youth camping industry has a direct financial impact of $3.2 billion in the New England states, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, according to an economic impact report prepared on behalf of the American Camp Association's Northeast region. The 7,000 summer camp programs in the region's nine states employ 190,000 people seasonally and 11,000 full time.
These workers receive more than $900 million in wages, with the 16-to-24 age group holding the most jobs. These jobs helped a demographic with a national unemployment rate of 18 percent. The youth camping industry was also one of the few bright spots in the Great Recession. Between 2007 and 2010, the total payroll of Northeast camps increased 7.3 percent, while the total payroll of all businesses during that time period fell by 0.7 percent, the report showed.
In addition to payroll, camps spend more than $1.6 billion on goods and services, including food, supplies, fuel, marketing, banking, maintenance and repair in small, local communities that rely heavily on this income.
When you factor in the indirect impact, the importance of the youth camping industry in this region is even greater.
Each summer, 16 million young people go to day and overnight camp in the Northeast. As a result, there is a great deal of intra-regional, out-of-region and out-of-country tourism. Family trips involving drop-off day, pick-up day, visiting day, and visits from prospective campers are common. The communities surrounding camps see increased spending on lodging, meals, transportation, shopping and recreation by families visiting camps and campers. When the indirect economic impact, which includes tourism, is added in, the figure rises to $8.1 billion, the report showed.