Benefits of Summer Camp: What Do Parents Value?


  • Dan McCole Michigan State University
  • Andrew J. Bobilya Western Carolina University
  • Tom Holman Southeast Missouri State University
  • Betsy Lindley Utah Valley University



summer camp benefits, summer camp enrollment, summer camp marketing, parent perceptions of summer camp, barriers to camp attendance


This exploratory study examined parent perceptions about the benefits of and barriers to their child attending a residential summer camp. Researchers conducted a survey of 370 parents of summer camp attendees and 198 parents of camp-aged children who have never attended camp. Findings show that parents value different camp benefits depending on the gender of their child and whether any of their children have previously attended summer camp. Results from parents of camp-aged children who have never attended camp indicate that the most important reason they have not sent their children to residential summer camp is that they feel their child is not ready. Cost of summer camp tuition and busy summer schedules were seen as the greatest barriers to camp attendance. These findings can help inform the messages camps use in their promotional materials and help camps utilize a segmented approach for different target markets.

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Author Biographies

Dan McCole, Michigan State University

Associate professor of tourism and sustainability in the department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University.

Andrew J. Bobilya, Western Carolina University

Professor and Program Director of Parks and Recreation Management at Western Carolina University

Tom Holman, Southeast Missouri State University

Professor of Recreation and Park Administration

Betsy Lindley, Utah Valley University

Professor of Exercise Science and Outdoor Recreation.


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Research Note