How to Start a Non-Profit Summer Camp

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Starting your own non-profit summer camp can be a very rewarding endeavor, but it will take some hard work and dedication to do it. There are many aspects of a summer camp that you will have to take into consideration before you can invite campers. Always consider what is best for the campers themselves. Remember that supervision and safety are top priorities.

Items you will need

  • Facility

  • Camp counselors

  • T-shirts with camp name

  • Registration form

  • Camp handbook

Starting a non-profit summer camp

Determine what the focus of your non-profit summer camp will be. Will it be a basic summer camp format, or do you want to have a camp geared toward something specific like sports, science, theater, or another subject?

Decide if your camp will be a day camp or if campers will be spending nights. If they are spending nights, you will have to have a bed for each of them as well as separate sleeping quarters for girls and boys.

Apply for a camp license if necessary and also apply for non-profit status. Go to to find out what the regulations are in your state.

Secure a facility that will meet the needs of your campers. Make sure your facility has restrooms, and also showers for overnight campers. Look for a place with a gymnasium or recreation field, such as a softball field or soccer field.

Secure meals or catering for the campers. Remember that overnight campers will need at least three meals a day. Day campers will only need lunch and maybe a small snack, such as fruit. You might also ask that campers bring their own lunch and then you can provide a light snack. This will cut down on your spending.

Develop a camp schedule. Decide what the campers will be doing throughout the day and create a specific schedule.

Recruit camp counselors. Since your camp is non-profit, you might ask for local volunteers. Ask around to see if maybe some parents would be interested in volunteering. Or, since your camp will be during the summer, see if some local teachers might want to volunteer their services to teach some camp activities. Check will local colleges to see if there are any students who are interested in an internship as a camp counselor.

Advertise your non-profit camp. Hand out information to school guidance counselors and area libraries. Submit an announcement to newspapers regarding the dates and location of your non-profit summer camp. These announcements are usually free.

Create your own summer camp handbook. It does not need to be long. The handbook simply needs to provide basic information for the campers and parents, mostly what the camp will entail and any special rules for the camp.

Create a registration form, which will need to be filled out by a parent or guardian. This form should include the name, address and phone number of the camper. Also, ask for phone numbers you should call in case of an emergency. Ask if the campers have any special needs or if they are allergic to anything.

Once all your campers are registered, have a short meeting with all the campers, parents and counselors to kick off the camp.


  • Be sure to comply with all laws and regulations pertaining to your area. and local recreation leagues should be able to help you find regulations.


  • Reiterate summer camp safety, not only to the campers, but the counselors as well. Have someone at the summer camp who can take care of anyone who may become sick or might get hurt.
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