Warren County, NY is Among National Leaders in Summer Camp Recreation
GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK – As parents and outdoors enthusiasts prepare to book summer trips to recreational and vacation camps, new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is revealing just how strongly that industry performed in Warren County, NY amid last year’s peak tourism season. Last July and August, average employment in the county’s private recreational and vacation camps industry tripled from 2020’s summer lockdown lows and climbed to the fourth highest level in the country, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data.
“The demand for accessible, world class recreation is one of our area’s secret weapons as we chart our way into the new economy. Our summer recreation drives remarkable economic impact and continues to be a critical part of our sustainable future economy. The innovation and collaboration through the trials of the pandemic was inspiring and welcomed by thousands that we hope to convert to long term visitors and residents,“ said Jim Siplon, president of EDC Warren County.
Camp Walden in Diamond Point, Warren County, NY.
During 2021’s peak summer tourism months of July and August, Warren County’s 13 recreational and vacation camps averaged 915 employees. That was three times more than the previous year’s peak season average of 291 and 37.1 percent above 2019’s pre-COVID-19 average of 668. Whereas the county’s recreational and vacation camps industry ranked fourth among U.S. counties for average employment during the peak summer months of 2021, it ranked ninth in 2020 and 11th in 2019.
Those extra recreational and vacation camp jobs had a significant economic impact in the county. Quarterly wages in that industry for the full third quarter of 2021 (July-September) totaled $5.48 million, up 136.5 percent from a year earlier and up 24.6 percent from Q3 2019. The recreational and vacation camps industry does not include RV parks and campgrounds.
In 2021, the only counties with higher peak summer employment were Wayne County in Pennsylvania (1,098); Cumberland County in Maine (1,074); and Carroll County in New Hampshire (923). Sullivan County in New York ranked fifth (880), behind Warren County in New York. Examples of Warren County’s recreational and vacation camps include:
- Brant Lake Camp, Brant Lake, 60 acres
- Camp Echo Lake, Warrensburg, 150 acres
- Camp Walden, Diamond Point, 100 acres
- Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation, Brant Lake, 1,000 acres
- Double H Ranch, Lake Luzerne, 320 acres
- Forest Lake Camp, Chestertown, 800 acres
- Hidden Lake Camp, Lake Luzerne, 400 acres
- Pilgrim Camp, Brant Lake, 34 acres
- Point O’Pines Camp, Brant Lake, 500 acres
- Skye Farm Camps, Warrensburg, 400 acres
- Word of Life: The Ranch, Pottersville, 500 acres
It is not clear which camp or camps drove the increase in employment last July and August. The QCEW data shows only 13 recreational and vacation camps in the county during Q3 2021, compared to 14 during Q3 2019. The recreational and vacation camp industry, like others in the leisure and hospitality sector, faced challenges in recruiting staffers due to COVID-related limitations. The Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne operated at a greatly reduced capacity, partly because its campers are immunocompromised. Double H Ranch, which provides programming for seriously ill children and their families, does plan to increase its operating capacity this coming summer but not yet to pre-COVID levels.
“Parents from around the country want their children to have the overnight camp experiences that are especially memorable here in the southern Adirondacks. COVID did not change that and may have strengthened parents’ desire to provide those experiences,” said Mark Bernstein, the director of Camp Walden on Trout Lake in Diamond Point. “Last summer we had strong demand from campers, but we were not able to hire as many staffers as we would have liked. Those we did hire stayed on the property on their nights off and on their days off slept over at a motel exclusively rented by Camp Walden for the entire summer, instead of finding various motels in the community. This summer we expect to hire more staffers, many of whom are students and camp alumni and we’ll rent the motel exclusively again, but this year will allow them to spend their days off at the beach or on a hike or at various restaurants in the community.”
Warren County, NY Tourism
The BLS employment statistics compliment hotel occupancy data from STR and sales tax data from the Warren County Tourism Department that highlight how strong travel business was in the county in 2021. Last year, 1,037,416 county hotel rooms were sold, up 36.4 percent from the previous year and up 0.3 percent from 2019. County sales tax collections were up 17.3 percent over the year and up 15.9 percent from 2019.
Warren County managed to realize these tourism gains even though recreational and vacation camps and alcoholic beverage drinking places were the only industries in the accommodations and food services sector to have higher peak summer employment, when compared to pre-COVID levels. For example, compared to the peak summer months of 2019, July-August average employment last year was down 22.2 percent in the hotel and motel industry, down 12.5 percent for full-service restaurants and down 11.1 percent at RV parks and campgrounds.
“Clearly, last summer people really needed relaxation and enjoyment for which Glens Falls, NY and the greater Lake George region are internationally renowned. While businesses faced many challenges last summer, from hiring to safety protocols, Warren County’s hotels, camps, restaurants and venues pulled it together and delivered a memorable season. Warren County is an important part of the Capital Region’s economy, and while there is more to it than tourism, that sector really came through for us when it was most needed,” said Center for Economic Growth President and CEO Mark Eagan.
About EDC Warren County
EDC is the central source for Warren County economic development efforts, as it guides programs and projects throughout the southern Adirondack region. EDC produces results through its advocacy and by building collaborative public-private partnerships designed to encourage new investment opportunities that create jobs. For more information on EDC Warren County, visit www.edcwc.org.
The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is dedicated to driving economic growth in New York’s eight-county, 1.1-million-person Capital Region. As the nonprofit regional economic development organization, we do this by attracting investment and talent; growing manufacturing and workforce capabilities, leveraging industry clusters, and developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We serve as a catalyst and work with partners and stakeholders to prepare the region to compete and move high-impact strategies and projects forward. An affiliate of the Capital Region Chamber, CEG is supported by investors in business, government, education, and the nonprofit sectors who are committed to sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity. For more information on CEG, visit www.ceg.org.