What is in this article?:
- Health Clubs Can Enhance Summer Camp Offerings by Marketing Wellness
- Campers Demonstrate Improved Attitude Towards Health
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.
A popular activity at the Fitness Plus Youth Summer Camp is rock wall climbing.
Campers Demonstrate Improved Attitude Towards Health
The program's original budget for expenses this past summer was $9,000 based on registration of 16 children per week-long session. But because of the popularity of the program, registration was expanded to accommodate 25 children per session—and actual expenditures came in around $11,000. However, the gross revenue was $32,000, according to assistant manager Doug Gannon.
Feedback from parents as well as data collected by Gannon's staff showed that the children left the program in better physical condition with a better attitude towards physical fitness and healthy eating, and they demonstrated better social behaviors, including an understanding of diversity.
"The goals of the program were not to force children to exercise and eat healthy but to develop a better attitude toward these behaviors after they experienced the program,” Gannon says.
The Mini Canes Recreational Sports Camp also addresses the health and well-being of campers. Organized by the Herbert Wellness Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL, the camp integrates multiple pillars of wellness into the programming.
Mini Canes, which won the Best Children's Program award in Club Industry's Best of the Best contest this year, gives campers developmental opportunities that will help to enhance their quality of life as they get older by discussing physical, intellectual, social, emotional, occupational and environmental wellness, says Rhonda DuBord, camp director and Herbert Wellness Center associate director.
The summer camp first opened in 1996 and has grown to incorporate a guide to nutritional, physical and financial wellness for kids. Divided into two-week sessions, campers learn about these particular components of wellness while taking part in a variety of outdoor and indoor games and activities, both recreational and educational. Each week of camp features a sport of the week in addition to theme days, special events, and health and wellness educational programming.
The eight-week summer camp runs from June through August and is open to children ages 6 to 12. The camp has 180 to 200 campers during each two-week session for a total of 800 participants. About 85 percent of campers return, and approximately 30 new campers come each year. The camp has a budget of $300,000 and yields $100,000 to $150,000 profit for the Department of Wellness and Recreation.
Though overlying themes are common, variety is a key element at Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club's MAC Summer Camp. Each week has a different theme, field trip, crafts, and sports and fitness activities. Previous popular themes included Olympic games, outer space and sports. Field trips are coordinated with that week's theme.
"We're obviously active all day long, so they get a lot of their physical fitness in the summer here, but we have a variety of activities,” Kelli Russell, who at the time was the youth and special events coordinator at the East Lansing, MI, facility, told Club Industry last year after Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club was recognized for the Best Children's Program in Club Industry's Best of the Best contest.
With a participation goal of 28 children per day, the camp attracted a daily average of 35 campers, and in some weeks almost 50 children attended camp. The increased attendance helped the program surpass its revenue estimate of $47,000 by $26,000, achieving 155 percent of its goal. It also came in under its budgeted expenses of $26,345 by almost $3,000, which Russell said was due to careful shopping for supplies and reusing materials when possible.