Why Choose Camp New Heights?
Updated: May 25
Finding the perfect summer camp for a kid can be a daunting task. There are thousands of camps throughout the United States and every one of them is unique in some way. So with a plethora of choices, why choose Camp New Heights?
Camp New Heights was started with the purest of intentions: to help kids navigate nutrition and give them skills and tools to eat, exercise, and understand their bodies. We saw what other camps were doing and saw just how antiquated their techniques were and knew there was a better way. We are relatively young at five years old and we're proud of our ability to innovate and adapt every year, week, and day to maximize our program for the enjoyment and enrichment of our campers. Our guiding light is what's best for our campers, not fulfilling some tradition that is not to the benefit of campers.
Our goal is to provide the penultimate summer camp experience for our campers and equip them with the skills and tools to ensure that they can carry over what they learn at camp into their lives at home. Unlike many camps in the health and wellness/fitness and nutrition space our success is not based on campers returning year after year because they have fallen back into habits that predated their stay at camp. Our tiered program offerings allow campers to return and level up each year that they attend. Our success is not based on beginner campers returning as beginners the following year because they have returned to their previous eating habits or regained weight that they lost at camp. If a camper attends camp as a beginner our goal is to give them sustainable tools to be able to continue their journey once they return home from camp. This ideology is extended to our intermediate and advanced programs as well, we are always in pursuit of reaching new heights and upward mobility.
You can read more about our ideology as a fitness and nutrition camp that caters to all abilities vs. a traditional weight loss camp here. We believe our ability to offer a program for everyone is what has elevated our program to be ranked number one on Fitstays.com list of the 11 Best Weight Loss Camps for Kids and Teens. While we're not exclusively a weight loss camp, we will certainly accept the praise.
When people think of summer camps it usually conjures up images of a remote location in the Adirondacks that is miles removed from even the slightest resemblance of a town. Perhaps there is a romanticism associated with this kind of camp setting as it brings up memories of yesteryear, but is it applicable for what we're trying to do?
We're extremely fortunate to be located on the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus. The UCSB campus is beautifully situated on the central California coast and has a wonderful small town vibe with the amenities of a much larger city. Our location in Santa Barbara allows us to provide real world experiences like navigating a menu at a restaurant in town. We also have access to multiple grocery stores that allow us to take our campers to the grocery store and use the information that they have learned in nutrition classes to not only be nutritionally conscious when they shop, but also to build and assemble healthy and nutritious meals at home.
Our campers also experience what it's like to live on a college campus. Why is this important? We have had several kids attend our camp and identify that they have no intention of ever attending a university. We hear from nearly every camper at the end of their stay, "How difficult is it to get into UCSB?" This experience of being emerged in the college atmosphere offers a nice glimpse into what college life can look like for a lot of our campers.
The weather in Santa Barbara, CA is near perfect every summer while surrounding areas experience crazy heatwaves and incredibly high daily averages. We typically see the first three weeks of camp average approximately 77 degrees daily with cloud cover in the morning and sunny skies in the afternoon. The next three weeks at camp tend to be sunny everyday with average highs around 80 degrees daily.
One of the benefits of being on UCSB's campus is that we get to enjoy their incredible dining experience. When we think of college dining halls we tend to think of something less than optimal, but I assure you this is not the case with the UCSB dining experience. The food at UCSB is top notch quality and every meal provides campers with a wide variety of choices. UCSB sources a large portion of it's food from local sources. Many camps in our space provide the campers with one meal choice at every meal. In addition to the lack of choices, campers are usually given a plate of food and told to eat it. That is not the case with us, we want campers assembling their plates themselves and making choices for themselves. We provide frameworks to work within, but at the end of the day campers are making the decisions themselves. We are also not starving kids or calorie counting to force weight loss onto campers. Our campers follow a plan that allows them additional food, but they are put into a position where they are identifying hormonal responses to hunger. Our dining experience has campers get their first plate and consume it slowly at a pace that cherishes the dining experience. Campers are forced to wait 20 minutes before getting a second plate of food, this allows the body to send a hormonal response to determine whether or not a true hunger to keep eating exists. So our campers experience a wide variety of dining options and definitely do not leave the dining hall hungry.
Our nutritionist works extensively with each camper to devise a plan that works for them. Due to our small group setting (20-30 campers per session), our nutritionist is able to really connect with each camper and work with them on a personal level. The nutritionist maps out every menu prior to meal time and gives campers the ability to understand and evaluate their choices at meal time. Due to the nutritionist attending all meals with campers and living among them in the dorms, our campers have extensive contact with the nutritionist and can ask them any question at any time.
Every year we strive to assemble an elite staff that is second to none. This task involves thousands of applications and over 100 hours of interviews. We have said previously that it's harder to become a Camp New Heights staff member than it is to get into Harvard. Our Harvard claim continues to hold true:
Harvard Acceptance Rate: 5.2%
Camp New Heights Acceptance Rate: 0.2% (10 staff members derived from 4231 applications)
Our staff works as a well-oiled machine to deliver an elite summer camp experience. Our staff members work closely with each camper and help us shape every summer experience. We guarantee a 5-1 camper to staff ratio. By keeping our ratio extremely low, we find that our community bond is incredibly strong. The camaraderie created by having such a deep cultural and community bond is immense.
We don't have pushy salesmen or a director that lives in a mansion on the hill, while the campers live in outdated bungalows. Our Director (myself) lives right down the hall on the same floor as all campers. I can speak of our experience not simply because I'm promoting our camp, but because I'm involved in the day to day operations and I'm on the ground with the campers day in and day out.
The summer camp industry tends to prey on those workers who want a deeper purpose and put aside money in that quest. This tactic that other camps utilize eventually leads to camps hiring just about anybody who is willing to accept. We pride ourselves on having an industry leading pay scale that pays our lowest level employee the same rate as that of many camps highest level positions.
Zac Caldwell is a business and political consultant with over a decade of experience in summer camping and youth programming. Zac published the following article regarding summer camp pay: Employment Elasticity and Why You Can't Find Male Staff: Pay Your People Better.
We asked Zac to evaluate our payrates and how our pay increases with each returning year. Zac's response to our figures was simply, "That's legit!" Zac was enamored with not only our starting pay, but how we increase pay for returners based on service years. When Zac questioned us about returning staff, I said that we are extremely fortunate in that we get to pick who returns because the desire to return by our staff is high. Zac's response, "That’s the problem you want to have. Higher wages give you the power to choose who returns, instead of having to hope for good returners."
So as an industry leader in camp pay, we're proud to be able to meticulously handpick our staff vs. relying simply on someone who will say yes to a miniscule $100-200 per week and be swayed by the experience.
Camp New Heights is strictly focused on the experience of every camper. By keeping our sessions sizes small (50-60 kids), we are able to build an incredible community among our campers. There are no ID numbers or second guessing someone's name at Camp New Heights. If you're a camper with us, you better believe that every staff member and fellow camper is going to know your name. There's no getting lost in the shuffle or falling between the cracks at Camp New Heights. Campers will never sit alone at lunch or feel like they don't have a place at camp, because we're able to build an incredibly tightknit community by spending hours on community building and by all spending our days together.
This small number of campers also allows us to really hone in and work with campers on a personalized program that meets their needs. Our guaranteed 5:1 camper to staff ratio ensures that campers are not only forming bonds with their fellow campers, but also form deep and meaningful bonds with the staff.
I think you'll be hard pressed to find a camp that has strived to provide an experience that fights monotony at every turn. Our schedule is designed to give our campers an experience that provides something new every week. No two weeks are the same at Camp New Heights. Our schedule is designed to give campers everything needed to have a great experience and keep things interesting day in and day out. One of the biggest tools to achieve this is our weekly excursions.
Whether it's ziplining, standup paddle boarding, mountain biking, camping in Sequoia, waterparks, etc... Campers know that Saturday is excursion day. Excursions provide the opportunity to get off campus and experience something new. You can read more about our weekly excursions in one of our blog post's from last year: Excursions Expand the Boundaries of Summer Camp.
Price? The elephant in the room, but let's take a chance to talk about it. Firstly, we believe our program provides incredible value for what each camper receives. According to Angie (Formerly Angie's List), a personal trainer costs an average $80-$120 per one hour session. So that would mean that just periods one through four alone for a two-week session would be between $2880-$4320. Take into account excursions between $100-$250 with transportation, that's another $200-$500 per two week session. We have forgotten about meals, people have to eat. Three meals a day at $14 per meal, that's $588 for a two week session. Lodging is paid on pretty much any destination vacation, so let's assess that cost. According to Trivago, the cost of the cheapest hotel (Motel 6) during the first two week stay of camp (June 20th-July 4) in Santa Barbara is $199/night. So the two-week cost of staying in Santa Barbara at the Motel 6 would be $2786. A one-hour consultation with a nutritionist is typically between $100-$200. Here's where we need to get creative, entertainment cost. We'll use the movie theater cost as a standard for two hours of entertainment. A two-hour movie on average costs approximately $15-20. So the three hours of entertainment per night, which is split up between nighttime activity and structured free time, can be observed at a rate of $22.50-$30. These activities occur everyday, so a two week cost would be $315-$420. I'm sure there are other costs (transportation, snacks, guidance, etc...), but let's take a look at the total value of a two week session. On the low end of all of the combined expenses would be $6869 and on the high end would be $8814. That means that our two week program is providing a savings of $3070 on the low end and $5015 on the high end.
Parents Love Us:
"Camp New Heights has been a revelation for my daughter."
"Once he returned we asked him, "How did you like it?"...he stated one word 'AWESOME'"
"Camp New Heights was an amazing experience for my daughter. Days were full of exciting activities that she had never experienced before. She came home more confident and 15lbs lighter! The staff was wonderful as well. Thank you for helping kids get healthy and strong, it is very important work."
"Our twin boys loved Camp New Heights! They are 13 years old and, each, at varying fitness levels. One is VERY athletic, the other moderately athletic. They had fun, learned a lot, and made great friends. They returned home more respectful in helping around the house and showing more initiative less interested in being online, initiating active games from ping pong to basketball to weightlifting in the morning and going on hikes. They also seem to be more connected together as brothers! They came back from the camp not only in better health physically but also in their orientation to family life and each other, showing some admirable capacity as teen boys!"
"Camp New Heights is truly amazing! The program allows teens to grow physically as well as mentally. Kids become more confident in their abilities because of the no-judgment environment, come as you are leave a better you. This camp is focused on teen empowerment by teaching them to strive to be better without lecturing or extreme motivational techniques. They just let kids be kids in a very supportive and mentoring environment, the result is a stronger kid who is confident in his/her own abilities."
"Upon returning home from camp, she is more motivated and disciplined. I would highly recommend this camp to parents who are looking for a program that develops the 'whole child'"
"Most importantly my daughters self esteem went up tremendously after the camp, they even seemed to be happier, more active and more open to physical activities after the camp comparing their lifestyle before. It's like they now stay active with intention and deeper understanding how important it is."
Our Campers Love Us:
"I have been here for the past 2 years and honestly they have been the best 2 summers of my life, without a doubt. From the counselors, to the excursions, to the daily periods and sports we play together...etc. It is a great camp that helped me gain and strengthen friendships. Also, learning more about health and myself in the process."
"It was really fun and I met a lot of amazing people. All the counselors were so nice and helpful, I miss it so much."
"I had so much fun last summer at camp new heights! the counselors are so nice and encouraging! They helped campers eat and exercise in the most efficient way. The camp was an enjoyable experience that I look back at positively. It was overall so fun and just a great camp."
"This fitness camp has some of the best athletic directors & are really enthusiastic at what they do. This camp has been the best experience I've ever been apart of & I've been apart of great things. The relationships that you build there are so amazing, the people are amazing, & they really do help you with everything health related to your body. This camp has everything you can ask for, if you're into sports they have that, if you're into performing arts then this camp has that also. No matter what you what to do with your career, this camp is very beneficial to what you need. I wouldn't want to do anything else with my summer, but be here at this camp. Great experience, great health benefits, great people, & best experience ever!! Just to sum it up"
If you're looking for a camp that is always adapting and striving to provide the best experience, we're here. Camp New Heights is all about the camper. If you have any questions about Camp New Heights or want to compare us to another camp, we would cherish the opportunity to chat.