How to Calculate your Summer Camp’s Return on Investment

How to Calculate Your Summer Camp's Return on Investment

Summer learning is invaluable1 to children, and it can be difficult to put a hard number on what a camp is worth to participants. However, calculating your camp’s value based on its income and costs is an important part of keeping a summer camp running. As a camp professional you know that calculating your return on investment (ROI) provides valuable insight into what’s working and what’s not.

Calculating your camp ROI can give you:

  • Insight into which marketing efforts result in the most growth
  • The ability to perform a cost/benefit analysis
  • The ability to better forecast spending for next year

It’s best to calculate your camp ROI at the end of each season for planning purposes. As summer draws to a close, we have a few tips to help you calculate your summer camp ROI like a pro.

Step One: Determine Your Costs

In 2012, day camps averaged $675,000 in total expenses, while resident camps averaged $1.14 millionTo determine your summer camp ROI, you first need to examine your costs. The amount of money you spend to acquire a new camper or maintain a current camper is important. The more it costs you to fill your programs, the less money you have on hand for other areas in the budget.

The American Camp Association reported2 in 2012 that most day camps averaged $675,000 in total expenses while resident camps averaged $1.14 million—although these varied depending on region and for-profit vs. non-profit status.

Marketing and advertising spend by channel is a good place to start when accounting for expenditures. If you don’t already have a spreadsheet or a CRM tracking this information, we suggest speaking to a software specialist to learn how you can more easily track this spending.

Make sure to account for:

  • Paid social outreach
  • Pay-per-click
  • Display ads
  • Paid influencers
  • Print media
  • TV and radio spend

Software and technology is another area where you’ll want to track spending. This includes costs for ACTIVE Network Camp & Class manager and any other business technology platforms you utilize. You should also include the cost of any digital properties, such as website hosting fees. According to our research3, managing technology, credit card payment processing, and server maintenance are main concerns for camps short on resources.

Staff salaries, rent and utilities are all straightforward numbers to calculate. Interestingly, the ACA reports that year-round employee salaries were a greater percentage of total expenses for day camps as opposed to resident camps while seasonal employee salaries accounted for an identical cost in either type of camp.

The costs of materials and supplies are important to include in your calculation as well. This includes merchandise that you give or sell to campers, including T-shirts or other giveaways. Other supply costs include food, craft supplies and materials your staff use throughout the season.

Step Two: Analyzing Income for Your Summer Camp ROI

The average revenue for camper per day for day camps was $81.90.Your camp has a few obvious income streams, the first of which is registrations. Other areas of revenue you may have are branded merchandise sales, registration add-ons or fees or even on-site retail if you have a camp store. According to the ACA report, camp registrations are the No. 1 source of revenue while day camps especially relied on fees for an extra revenue stream. The average revenue for camper per day for day camps was $81.90 while the resident camp average was $103.50.

While they’re not necessarily straightforward in terms of a monetary value, calculating your earned and owned media4 can also be helpful in determining the return on your digital marketing efforts.

Earned Media as Part of Marketing ROI

Earned media includes news stories in newspapers or on TV that feature your camp. It also includes word-of-mouth and reviews, as well as mentions, shares and reposts on social media. Social media and reviews are an important part of current marketing efforts for camps5, and it’s worth keeping track of them as part of your marketing program, as they can drive registrations without costing you a penny.

Owned Media as Part of Marketing ROI

Owned media includes your website, blog and social media channels and can be calculated using Google Analytics or other data collection services. Today’s social media platforms include analytics to help you determine where you’re seeing the most engagement and where to focus your time and efforts. Of course, calculating the total value of earned and owned media can be somewhat complicated, but including it in your income calculation can give you a more comprehensive view of your camp ROI.

Calculating Your Camp ROI

Once you have your totals for costs and income, calculating your summer camp ROI becomes very straightforward:

Income – Costs = ROI

Of course there are other ways to calculate your summer camp ROI, such as bringing time costs into the equation6;as the old saying goes, time equals money. But the above calculation requires less research and can show you the current value of your camp at any time. The ACA has a helpful worksheet7 that can also aid you in calculating your summer camp ROI.

Once you calculate your camp ROI, you can start to analyze and predict trends, especially if you calculate the ROI year-over-year or even season-over-season. It’s important to note where you are losing the most money, as well as where you can see room for improvement. Cutting spending and waste, as well as increasing revenue through unexpected streams, are all easier to do once you have a thorough understanding of the numbers.

If your camp ROI is coming up short, there is something you can do about it. Talk to a Product Specialist today to see how we can help streamline costs and increase registrations.