Jul-26-12 CAMPING CREATES IMPORTANT JOBS IN NEW JERSEY
“These camps are an important source of employment for young people because they offer far more than a chance to earn money to help with college costs,” said Wirths. “These young people learn a strong work ethic they will carry through life, and the opportunity to counsel younger children offers them an invaluable experience in responsibility and compassion.”
An “Economic Impact Report” commissioned and released last month by the American Camp Association (ACA), Northeast Region, indicated the camping industry carries a $3.2 billion benefit in nine states, including New Jersey. Most of the people employed in the industry range in ages 16 to 24, a young segment of working people who have the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
“Camps are not often thought of as an economic driver, but they have a significant and direct impact on the state’s economy, particularly in youth employment. While other industries have reported a decrease in total payroll, the numbers at New Jersey camps rose by nearly six percent,” said Claudine Leone of the New Jersey Camps Government Affairs Project, an industry group.
“We can’t forget that the children love and admire their counselors, and that respect brings out the best in the young adults working at camp,” Leone added.
The ACA’s “Economic Impact Report” drew its data from a mix of industry surveys conducted by a consulting firm and some U.S. Department of Labor information. The report estimated 7,000 camp programs in the Northeast employ 11,000 full-time and 190,000 people seasonally, with people of ages 16 to 24 years old holding most of those positions.
In New Jersey, according to the report, an estimated 1,010 overnight summer camps and day camps employ 27,400 seasonal workers and 1,600 full-time employees, said Leone.
“We are so pleased that Commissioner Wirths could witness the magic of camp at Oak Crest. The summer camp experience offers children of all means an opportunity to have their own adventures, make friends, build confidence and explore their imaginations and environment,” said Jonathan Gold, owner and director of Oak Crest Day Camp.
Gold led Commissioner Wirths on a tour of the camp, where children were engaged in a wide range of activities, from biking to swimming and playing soccer to riding a zip-line. Commissioner Wirths also took a spin on the zip-line.
Started in 1961, the camp was purchased in 2002 by Gold, who now has more than 200 employees, 80 percent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. Oak Crest is a state licensed youth camp and nationally accredited by the ACA.
Campers and employees alike are from the area of Somerset, Hillsborough, Bridgewater, Princeton, South Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen and other neighboring towns.
Commissioner Harold J. Wirths (right) was given a tour of the Oak Crest Day Camp in Somerset by
owner-director Jonathan Gold (center).