5 Key Enrollment Takeaways from American Camp Association Surveys

Enrollment numbers need a little boost? These lessons from the American Camp Association will have parents registering left and right.
min read

You have a great camp program, but you’re not a happy camper until you see those enrollment numbers hiking up to new heights! The good news is we’ve summed up all the key lessons from recent surveys conducted by the American Camp Association and paired them with actionable tips to boost your numbers, increase revenue, and strengthen your reputation.

Now, let’s get into the good stuff!

1. Millennial Messaging: “Keep It 100, Fam”

The American Camp Association says, “Knowing what millennial parents value is important to creating marketing strategies that will persuade them to book your camp over a competitor.” Try these strategies to speak their language:


  • Showcase experiences over things: Millennial parents report being more interested in providing experiences rather than physical items for their children. In your marketing materials, highlight what campers will do and learn at your camp to get millennial parents interested.
  • Embrace social media: Pew Research found that 74% of parents who use social media are on Facebook and 33% of parents under 40 are on Instagram. Engaging them through fun polls, giveaways, or camper story submissions will help you foster a connection.
  • Highlight user-generated content: Keep it real. No, really. Adweek found that 47% of millennials say they trust UGC whereas 25% say they trust brand-created content. Showcase customer reviews and highlight camper stories in your marketing to make a real impact.

How ACTIVE Helps:

Design standout emails and track your campaigns’ success all from one platform. Read more about marketing and communications with ACTIVE’s Camp & Class Manager.

2. Registration Done Right (Hint: Make It Easy)

A hassle-free registration process can significantly boost enrollments. Parents will browse your whole website only to abandon their virtual cart if registration is too much effort or takes too long. The American Camp Association published these findings about parents’ registration preferences:

  • Forty percent of respondents put ease of registration in their top three evaluation criteria when deciding which camps to send their kids to.
  • Eight-four percent said they would like the option to be waitlisted and automatically informed when a spot opens.
  • Eight-seven percent said they prefer to sign up online over in-person or over the phone.


  • Online Registrations: Enable easy online registrations that are mobile-friendly.
  • Waitlist Automation: When a spot becomes available, send an email invite to the first registrant on the waitlist.
  • Confirmation Emails: Send automated, personalized confirmation emails to families who've just registered.

How ACTIVE Helps:

ACTIVE’s online registration tool features waitlist automation, digital waivers, form tracking, automated confirmation emails, electronic signatures, and self-serve customer accounts.

3. New Ways to Pay: Payment Options a Deciding Factor

The American Camp Association found that parents’ choice in program often comes down to payment flexibility:

  • Eight-eight percent of respondents want more payment flexibility to pay for their children’s camps in terms of method of payment, whether it be credit, debit, cash or check.
  • Eight-one percent of parents felt they lacked options to pay over the course of the camp session via payment plans or installments.
  • Eighty-seven percent of parents wanted more access to tracking their invoices, balances owed, and cancellations online.


  • Early Bird Discounts: Offer reduced rates for early registrants.
  • Multi-Child Discounts: Provide multi-child discounts for families wanting to enroll siblings.
  • Flexible Payment Plans: Offer buy-now-pay-later plans and other options to improve accessibility.

The ACA says advanced point-of-sale systems “are becoming expected in all industries” and “can lead to a competitive edge”—achievable with a recreation-focused software with a built-in payment system.

How ACTIVE Helps:

ACTIVE’s Camp & Class Manager makes it simple to set up early bird discounts and offer flexible payment options that can help increase early registrations.

3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short: How Price Affects Enrollment

How registrants pay is one thing; how much they pay is another. You may be surprised to find that “raising prices does not affect enrollment,” according to the American Camp Association. In fact, in 2022, camp providers increased their prices by 35% but purchase intent and conversion rates remained steady. What does this mean for you? The ACA says, “Camp owners who do not increase prices may be leaving money on the table.”


  • Analyze Your Audience: Check the average cost of day, sleep-away, and specialty camps for 2024 to see if you are above or below the norm.
  • Experiment With Pricing Models: Cater to different needs by providing both pay-per-class and pay-per-course plans.
  • Monitor Engagement: Use reporting tools to track which payment method is more popular and adjust accordingly.

How ACTIVE Helps:

The same flexible payment options that improve accessibility also open the door to greater revenue. See how different ways to pay can boost your camp’s bottom line.

4. Safety First: Tech That Protects

The American Camp Association says “parents expect technology to be used to increase camper safety”—a sentiment clearly reflected in a recent survey:

  • Eight-two percent of parents would prefer to have access to complete and sign forms or waivers online.
  • Ninety-three percent of parents would like easy, online access to their children’s profiles in order to update medical information, photo IDs, and approved guardians.
  • Eight-four percent of parents expect to have a check-in and check-out system at their child’s camp that can be monitored online.
  • Eighty-eight percent of parents would like access to see who picked up their child.


  • Online Forms: Give parents access to important forms and waivers from their phones or computers.
  • Electronic Signatures: Instantly capture signatures of participants or guardians for increased safety on any mobile device.
  • Participant Information: Quickly access important details for each registrant, whether provided by a parent or noted internally.
  • Check-in/out Tracking: Camp & Class Manager allows you to record students as present, absent, and unmarked from any device.
  • Authorized Pickup: Easily identify authorized pick-ups and give parents the flexibility to update their pick-up list as needed.

How ACTIVE Helps:

A parent’s peace of mind is worth a software upgrade. Camp & Class Manager allows parents to register multiple children at once, fill out forms and waivers online, authorize pickup, and access participant information anywhere, anytime.

5. Early Bird Business: Parents Book Two Months Early

Publishing and promoting your camp early is vital for capturing early bird business—especially considering “parents make camp purchases at least two months before camp begins.” The American Camp Association cites the benefits of planning ahead:

  • When you post your camp listings early, parents can spend one to two months discovering, comparing and contrasting, and deciding before making their camp purchase two-plus months in advance.
  • Early registrations allow you to better understand demand for your camp.
  • Enabling waitlists for sold-out sessions can help you capture registration intent and expand your offerings with confidence.


  • Email Marketing: Start promoting your programs early with targeted email lists based on specific criteria like registration history, age, and interests.
  • Expand Your Reach: Reach millions of participants by listing your camps, classes and programs on ACTIVEkids.com and ACTIVE.com.
  • Text Marketing: Sixty percent of parents booked camps on their phone, so meet them where they’re at with targeted text alerts about early bird deals.

How ACTIVE Helps:

ACTIVE’s communication tools help you expand your reach and convert prospects into participants with campaigns built for targeted lists based on specific criteria like registration history, age, and interests.

Don’t Stress Over Enrollment, Focus on the Fun

Boosting enrollment is possible when you understand the behavior and desires of your audience.

ACTIVE’s Camp & Class Manager helps you uncover these insights, connect, and then convert prospects into participants.

How much could your enrollment improve with the world’s best all-in-one camp management software?

Book a demo with the ACTIVE team to find out!


“Camp Booking Trends to Know for 2023.” American Camp Association,


Fabian-Weber, Nicole. “Summer Camp Cost: Breaking down the Price of Day, Sleep-Away and Specialty Camps.” Care.Com Resources, www.care.com/c/what-does-summer-camp-cost/

“Parents’ Camp Registration & Tech Expectations.” American Camp Association,


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May 30, 2024
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