How to start a summer camp business

Updated July 16, 2018

Attending summer camp is rite of passage for the many children. If you've been thinking about starting a summer camp business but aren't sure how to begin, you'll need to carefully consider how you can make your idea a reality.

Decide what type of camp you want to open. Will it be a residential camp or a day camp? Will the camp have a particular theme or focus? What is the income level of the parents you hope to interest in the camp?

Write a business plan covering funding, renting or buying a location for the camp; your competition; pricing strategy; and advertising and marketing plans.

Search for a site for your camp. Determine how much space you will need and what facilities you will need to run the camp. If you are running a residential camp, you will need kitchen facilities. If you are offering a day program, you may be able to have children bring their lunches with them.

Obtain insurance when you have found a site for your summer camp. You will need general liability, workers' compensation, property, health, vehicle liability and personal property coverage at a minimum. You may need extra coverage, depending on the activities your camp will offer.

Determine what permits or licenses you will need before opening your summer camp business. You may need a special license if you plan on transporting campers. Find out what laws you will be expected to follow regarding sewage, garbage removal and kitchen facilities.

Talk to an accountant regarding the taxes the camp will be required to pay. You can expect to pay property, state and federal income, state and federal unemployment, workers' compensation and social security taxes.

Hire employees for the camp. Local universities can be a good source for camp counsellors. School teachers may also be interested in working at your camp. Your employees may be required by law to pass background checks before they can work with children.

Start your advertising campaign at least 8 months before the camp opens. Parents know they will have to act quickly to secure a spot in a camp for their child and will start looking for camps in the winter. In addition to print and media advertising and brochures, start a website for the camp.


If you don't have an on-site kitchen but would like to provide meals, you may want to consider hiring a food-service company to bring food in each day.

Things You'll Need

  • Business plan
  • Funding
  • Insurance
  • Site
  • Employees
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About the Author

Working at a humane society allowed Jill Leviticus to combine her business management experience with her love of animals. Leviticus has a journalism degree from Lock Haven University, has written for Nonprofit Management Report, Volunteer Management Report and Healthy Pet, and has worked in the healthcare field.