There seem to be two distinct sides when it comes to “additional fees” for special programs. One side thinks that the camp participation fee should be all inclusive – it should cover all programs offered by the camp. The other side thinks campers (and their parents) should be charged extra for special programs, or programs that utilize expendable items.
When it comes to fees, I have seen it all:
- Shooting Sports Fees (to cover ammunition and wear and tear on equipment)
- Craft Projects (buy the project in the camp store)
- Offsite Excursion Fees (to cover gas and extra staff supervision)
- Equipment Rental Fees
- Early/Late Check-in Fees
- Special Meals (Steak Dinner)
- Family Night Participation
- Guest Presentations
I can’t tell you whether your camp should charge extra fees or not, without knowing your program, your camper clientele, and what you have been doing. If you are trying to decide if you should charge an extra fee, I’d encourage you to do think about the following:
- What are your campers (and their families) going to think about the fee? Will you lose campers over them?
- Where is your overall camp participation fee compared to others in your market/region?
- What is the purpose of the fee? Is it providing something extra for the camper? Or is it just covering your normal expenses?
- How many of your campers participate in the program? If 75% of your campers weave a basket, should you charge extra for the basket weaving materials, or just build it into your camp fee?
If you do charge additional camper fees the most important thing you need to do is clearly communicate the fees, explain the purpose (and benefit), and have a method in place to easily collect the fees. With these three things in place, you will minimize complaints about the additional fees and reduce overall frustration in their collection.