By Eve Eifler, Co-Director, Tips on Trips and Camps, Baltimore, Maryland
The costs associated with camp may seem daunting to many families, especially in today’s economic downturn. However, especially for working parents, camp is not a luxury but an essential part of the summer.
What will your child do this summer if you cannot afford sleep away camp? Do you envision your child lying on the couch in front of the TV all summer long? Do you have thoughts of your teen plugged into an iPod or on Face Book for three straight months? Or worse? It is a recurring issue for all parents.
Although the costs are real, camp is an important part of a family’s peace of mind as well as an important part of any child’s education. So, don’t dismay, there is a way to find a camp that fits your budget.
Help is readily available to families picking a sleep away camp that matches their child’s requirements and is within their budget. A handful of companies exist that provide free consulting and advisory services to any family that knows to call them. The service is without charge, and families incur no obligation of any kind when they request guidance or information. Camp advisors are often an unknown parental resource spread by word-of-mouth among families already “in the know.”
Camp advisory services like the one I work for (Tips on Trips and Camps
) have years of experience addressing families’ questions and concerns. Advisors ask families the questions necessary to make sure that the “fit” is right between the program and the child and provide families with lists of questions to ask directors.
Tips on Trips and Camps offers the following suggestions to make summer sleep away camps and teen programs affordable.
- If you have a tight budget but know you want to send your child away to camp:
- Be aware of early enrollment discounts. Plan ahead.
- Ask the camp about a discount for multiple children from one family.
- Inquire about shorter sessions to accommodate a tight budget.
Make summer a part of your educational plan. Choose a shorter specialty program that will enhance the student’s profile for college or help develop a new interest or skill.
Private camps are not subsidized, so the camper is paying for all of the costs to run a camp: insurance, staff, equipment, and capital improvements. You can expect to pay between $700 and $1,200 a week for a private camp.
If you have a very small budget and need to spend less than $600 per week:
- Contact camps run by your local county government or agencies like the Jewish Federation, the JCC, the Salvation Army, Campfire Boys and Girls, or the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. These camps offer a summer experience at a reduced cost because the sponsoring agency subsidizes the camp.
- Look into financial aid, which is available at most camps. If you apply early, it is possible to get a 20 percent to 50 percent discount based on need.