Inflation, staff shortages, discounts, and flexible work schedules all played a role in summer day camp prices in 2022.
In 2022, summer day camp programs started to see families return to normal buying patterns with registrations peaking in the first quarter. Many eager families start booking camps in the winter months, at least 4-6 months before summer starts. It seemed like 2022 was going to be a “normal” year. But then the Ukrainian war, rising interest rates, and gas prices caused U.S. consumers to put a hold on some of their larger purchases.
According to the ACA’s 2021 Summer Counts Study, staffing challenges that began during the pandemic were expected to continue and 77% of day camps planned to increase prices of their programs. Over half of the camps surveyed estimated their prices would increase by 3-5% in 2022.
ActivityHero.com is the largest marketplace for in-person camps and classes, and includes price and session data for hundreds of camps in the U.S. With the 2022 summer camp season behind us, what insights can the final aggregate registration data offer? How did the ACA’s predicted price increases ultimately impact families?
ActivityHero’s data shows that the average price paid for a week of day camp increased by 7.6%, compared to 2021.
Let’s break it down. The average list price of a day camp in 2022 was $451 per week. The list price is the full price of the session, excluding extended care and before any discounts are applied. The final average price paid by families for a week-long camp was $426 per week, including any discounts and/or extended care.
Are you surprised to see that the average price paid is lower than the average list price? Even though camps did increase prices, the average discount offered was 10.4% in 2022, dropping the average price paid to $404.10, after discounts.
Offsetting the savings from discounts were optional fees such as extended care, scholarship donations, or camp insurance. The average price of extended care was $19.65 a day. Including any add-on fees increased the total average price paid to $426 per week.
However, only 8.5% of day camp registrations included the extended day option. This was a surprising decrease from the 21% of families who opted for extended care in 2019 before the pandemic. This trend may continue into 2023 since not all companies are requiring employees to return to work in the office, and many are requiring only 2-3 days in the office. Some camps have reduced the hours of extended care in response to the lower demand.
A mom of two in San Francisco, California explained “I saved money this year because I didn’t need to look for camps that went until 5pm or pay for extended care.”
Even though the average price paid for a week of day camp increased 7.6% in 2022, the hourly price of camps is still cost-effective compared to other forms of childcare. The average price paid per hour of camp is $15.00 in 2022, compared to $21 – 25 per hour for a babysitter or nanny in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Overall camp registrations are the same or better than pre-pandemic levels for camps who use ActivityHero’s registration and marketing services. This is good news for camps that paused operations for two years or moved online and then re-opened their doors again in 2022.
“2022 has been our best year ever, which is a relief since we had to make a difficult decision to cancel camps in 2020 and refund all the families. Thanks to the support of our community and staff, we are stronger than ever.”
Tamar Hill, owner and director of Spartan Allstars Camp in Los Angeles, CA
Summer camp is still far from being inexpensive, but to help defray costs there are 2500 scholarships available to families with financial need. This program is made possible by generous contributions from activity providers and families. Camps can offer discounted prices for families who have financial needs and be matched with families who apply through the ActivityHero scholarship application.
Data source: ActivityHero marketplace data on summer camp sessions and registrations in 2019-2022. ACA 2021 Summer Counts Study, Average cost of a babysitter is from Care.com, Urbansitter.com, Sittercity.com surveys.