For Immediate Release
Media Contacts: Karen Thurm Safran
Choosing a Summer Camp? Bet on Quality this Year
The summer camp industry, like the rest of the country, is facing serious challenges this year. Choosing the right camp can be grueling for parents and kids alike. The good news is there are thousands of camps out there, seemingly a buffet of options that meet every need, fill every niche, and can accommodate most any budget. Video Game Camp? Check. Golf Camp? Check. Technology Camp? Spanish Camp? Day Camp? Sleep Away Camp? Check, check, check and check.
Two of the country’s largest summer camp operators are headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area. US Sports Camps, the official operator of NIKE Sports Camps, is headquartered in San Rafael, California. The camp offers hundreds of programs nationwide. iD Tech Camps, headquartered about an hour south in the Silicon Valley, runs its summer camps at over 60 prestigious universities nationwide including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and MIT. The company teaches technologies from Adobe®, Apple®, Microsoft® and others. These two camp businesses have been running summer camps for over thirty and ten years, respectively.
The president of US Sports Camps, Steve Pence, and the president of iD Tech Camps, Pete Ingram-Cauchi, meet a couple times a year over lunch at Perry’s in San Francisco. They compare notes and industry trends.
Ingram-Cauchi, obligatory Blackberry in hand, commented, “To our surprise, this year is actually shaping up to be better than we had hoped. We’re seeing growth at almost all locations. Parents want to give their kids a leg up—and camp is a definite way to do that.”
Pence, dressed in his Nike golf polo, had a similar upbeat response. “We’ve been running camps for over 30 years. “We’re seeing a strong trend in registrations. Parents want quality, and that’s why they look for camps with established track records.”
In difficult economic times, both Ingram-Cauchi and Pence are betting that there will be a flight to quality, just like many investors are betting on the big blue chip companies that have longstanding track records.
The summer camp industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, but many small camp operators are bracing for a tough year. Clearly, there is debate out there as to just how discretionary summer camps are in a family’s budget.
“We think parents want to invest in their kids, and they want the best programs out there,” said Ingram-Cauchi. “Summer camps, by nature, are an investment in the future. Kids learn new skills. It’s one of the last things to cut from the budget. “ But Ingram-Cauchi is still trying to get creative and be sensitive to the fact that a lot of families are tightening their belts. One of the things iD Tech Camps has done is to allow parents to pay a $200 deposit, as opposed to asking for all the tuition up front. “This allows parents to spread the cost of camp out over several months. This has been very well received,” said Ingram-Cauchi. Mr. Pence is doing something similar by offering a $250 deposit option.
Across the street from iD Tech Camps is a smaller camp operator called “Let’s Play in Spanish.” The camp, operated by Chris and Susy Dorn, has built a loyal following by offering great service and a unique offering. “We can’t complain about our numbers,” said Dorn. “Parents know we’ve been around awhile—and that means something right now. Nobody wants to waste money.”
The three camp operators are clearly engaged in the camp microcosm. “We’re in the greatest industry in the world, “said Mr. Pence. “We impact the future.”
The optimism on display with these three summer camp operators is palpable. When you talk to them, you get the sense that better days are just around the corner. That’s welcome news against the constant backdrop of negative economic information.
About iD Tech Camps
iD Tech Camps, www.iDTech.com headquartered in Campbell, California (in the Silicon Valley), is America’s Largest Technology Camp and teaches technologies from Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and others, to ages 7-18 . It was founded in 1999 with the mission of delivering the finest technology instruction to young students at America’s finest colleges and universities, including Stanford, UCLA, MIT and UT Austin. During the summer of 2008, more than 15,000 campers attended iD Tech Camps at 50 locations nationwide. The company also provides three teen programs: iD Gaming Academy, iD Film Academy and iD Programming Academy.
About US Sports Camps
US Sports Camps (USSC), www.USSportsCamps.com, headquartered in San Rafael, California (just north of San Francisco), is America’s Largest Sports Camp Network and the licensed operator of The NIKE Sports Camps. It was started in 1975 with the same mission that defines it today: to shape a lifelong enjoyment of athletics through high quality sports education and skill enhancement. By partnering with the country’s best coaches to direct our camps and by providing them with valuable administrative and marketing support, USSC has become the largest and most successful sports camp operator in America. During the summer of 2008 more than 52,000 campers attended US Sports Camps at 400 locations nationwide.