Out-of-School Time: 2016’s Best Opportunity for Camp Growth?

kids playing in a fieldA recurrent theme at ACA Nationals this year revolved around the state of camp and the question: “Is Camp in crisis?”

It’s true that the #1 concern of Camp Directors in 2015 was flat registration levels, which camp directors attribute to:

  • Competition
  • Family schedules
  • Early specialization of kids
  • Marketing in the Age of the Internet

What can camps do?

United Way OST definition logoIf it’s true that every challenge holds an opportunity, camps must reevaluate the landscape and adapt. Out of School Time (OST) may just be the next frontier.

A highly focused-upon topic, OST covers those morning, evening, weekend, summer, school holiday, and snow day gaps parents face between school and work. But the range of OST offerings includes more than just before and after school programs. The space has broadened to include service and learning opportunities, mentorships, internships, and more, as described by the United Way to the right.

In a recent conversation we had with ACA CEO Tom Holland about the future of camp, he identified OST as a real opportunity for the camp space, not only for growth but also to provide value to families and continue to validate “Camp’s rightful seat at the table of education.”

Indeed, a Child Trends Research Brief states that “Over the years, understanding of the value of participation in out-of-school time (OST) activities and programs for children has grown. Once primarily thought of as meeting a need for supervision during non-school hours, OST activities are now recognized as important to healthy development, for both younger and older children.”

Marketing Toolkit Header dance class

Is there a place in the Out-of-School Time for your camp?

Shifting priorities should always start with research. If you’re already meeting regulations for your camp or your school, expanding to the OST may not require much more, but the long term success of your effort can be enriched by recognizing the breadth of the industry and choosing where you would like your organization to fit.

We’ve pulled together a comprehensive list of resources to get you started:

OST and Camp can be a perfect fit. We hope you’ll find what you need here to keep your organization growing and relevant in this challenging day and age!

If your camp is struggling, we’d love to share with you how ACTIVE can help you reverse that trend with camp management software, free marketing consulting, free listings on ACTIVEkids, and more!