Whether to offset a summertime slump in usage or boost ancillary revenue, enhancing summer camp offerings may be just the answer for fitness facility operators looking to fill a void in programming during the summer months.

Today's summer camps focus on more than sports, a message that the Dedham (MA) Health and Athletic Complex emphasized when it changed the program's name from the Ultimate Sports Camp to the Ultimate Day Camp. Though the club continues to promote swimming lessons and tennis on a daily basis as lifelong sports, the camp also markets camp programming tailored to a variety of interests, including sports, science or arts, crafts and theater.

General Manager Stephen Lempert says the rest of campers' activities are up to the individual. Options include rock wall climbing, laser tag, theater productions in a professional black box theater and dance programs choreographed by a professional dancer.

The camp takes up a lot of space within the 240,000-square-foot complex, but campers are divided into small groups that meet in areas of the club typically less used during the summertime, Lempert says.

The 12-week program is structured in week-long sessions. The cost per week decreases the more weeks that children are enrolled. One week costs $524, two to three weeks is $489 per week, four to seven weeks is $459 per week and eight to 12 weeks costs $439 per week.

Hiring employees who work the camps in the summer but work other areas of the club during the winter helps with the budgeting.

"We don't have full-time staff eating away at our camp budget,” Lempert says. "We have people who can multitask during the winter time by devoting 25 percent of their time to camp through various marketing or planning efforts. The other 75 percent of their time, they assure our kids programs are functioning well.”

Because of the cross-hiring, though, it is difficult to calculate the exact cost of running the summer camps, he says.

The Dedham Health and Athletic Complex is just one of several facilities across the United States that run summer camps that offer more than sports. Available to members and the general community, Fitness Plus Youth Summer Camp at Saint Francis Medical Center Health and Wellness Center, Cape Girardeau, MO, focuses on health, physical fitness, education, culture, intellectual stimulation, and social growth and development.