Time to crunch the camp numbers
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | Aug. 24, 2017|
A new report has found that the youth summer camp industry in America’s northeast has a direct economic impact of $3.2 billion.
Massachusetts alone has 1.410 summer camps that pump $545 million into that state’s economy.
The report, released in June, was done by consulting economist Charles Lewton, Ph.D. on behalf of the American Camp Association, Northeast Region. It was for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
All up, there are more than 6,000 licensed camp programs in the Northeast states that employ almost 175,000 people seasonally and 10,000 full-time.
While the number of youth camps in Haliburton County doesn’t come anywhere near those figures, they do have a major economic impact on our economy.
Unfortunately, there are no studies to back that up. The County of Haliburton has not researched it. The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce has not researched it and the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) has not researched it.
Chamber manager Autumn Wilson says it would be expensive, and difficult to carve local numbers from regional numbers. However, it’s on her to-do list.
Anecdotally, we know they have a major impact after talking to Camp Medeba, Camp White Pine, YMCA Camp Wanakita and Camp Timberlane over the past week.
First, there’s employment. Each of these camps has both full-time and seasonal employees that are paid a good wage.
Camp White Pine tells us it has 200 staff in summer. Camp Medeba says it pays about $100,000 in summer wages. Their year-round leadership school employs a dozen people. Wanakita has a year-round staff of 22.
Then there’s spending on goods and services, such as food, supplies, fuel, marketing, banking, maintenance and repairs.
Camp White Pine tells us that if you include wages and money spent in town by employees, money paid to local suppliers, including bus lines, drop-off, pick-up, visitor day accommodation, food and souvenirs – “it would be well over $1 million-a-year.”
Medeba tells us they purchase most things locally. Wanakita said they have an additional 235 seasonal contracts on top of their regular staff.
All of them talk about camps as tourist destinations. There are often family trips surrounding those drop-offs, pick-ups, visitor days and prospective camp visits.
Medeba figures it makes half-a-million-dollars alone on camping fees in summer.
It’s pretty easy to conclude that the camps pump millions of dollars into the local economy.
Just how many millions is the, pardon the pun, million-dollar question. We encourage the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce to try to undertake this study. However, if they limit it to chamber members only, it will be incomplete. It would be good if the chamber manager could get a little help from the County of Haliburton or the HCDC to provide a more complete picture.
It’s something we should know. It’s something we should be proud of. And it’s something that we can use in our marketing campaigns to attract even more people to the Highlands in future.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.