“It takes a lot of time to find and manage a camp schedule,” says Raleigh parent Nathan Pienkowski. A few years ago, Pienkowski and his wife found themselves frustrated when they couldn’t find the right camp for their two daughters. They knew there had to be more options in a growing place like the Triangle, Pienkowski says, but didn’t know where or how to find them. “We don’t want to just fill our kids’ time, we want to make their summers a decent learning experience.” Once they figured it out, Pienkowski co-founded CampRooster in 2016 along with Michael Woodward, Garry O’Grady, and Gordon Pruitt. The online database hosts everything from local day camps to destination programs. The site includes more than 10,000 youth camps, and users can filter to those near their home or work, or search for camps throughout North Carolina. From cooking schools a mile from home to sleepaway camps on the coast, Pienkowski hopes CampRooster will prevent parent frustration and information overload.
The site currently focuses on Triangle residents, but hopes to expand to other metropolitan areas. “We want to provide a marketplace that allows parents to find camps and evaluate them,” says Pienkowski, whose daughters are now in sixth and ninth grade. He says he hopes that the site’s local focus and tools such as a precise mapping feature help showcase the multitude of options nearby. These discoveries inspired the site’s name, says Pienkowski. “Camp Rooster represents the rooster giving the wake-up call to all of the options for your children’s summer.” —Catherine Currin