Budgeting for family fun is important, especially in the summer. Most summer camps last from one week to the entire summer, and average fees range somewhere between $200-$400 per week, according to the American Camp Association. So, before deciding on which camp, first determine if your child is even ready for a camp experience and if it fits in your budget.
With a wealth of options in every price point, you can find a summer experience that fits even the thriftiest household budget. Here’s how:
- If camp is in the cards, be flexible with your dates to find the best prices. And plan ahead—the camps with the best deals are the first to fill up.
- To ensure you have enough money for camp—and the costs don’t hit all at once—set up a ‘summer fun” savings account, and deposit a set amount each month throughout the year.
- Look into local camp options. YMCA has low-cost camps and provides scholarships and financial assistance when applicable. The school districts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and Boys and Girls Club of America also offer camp options for a lower price.
- Offer your services. Some camps offer free or reduced fees in exchange for parents bartering services like dishwashing or being a camp nurse.
- Reserve more expensive specialty camps for older children who show a passion for the activities featured at that camp.
- Include kids in the financial discussion, and if they are working age, brainstorm how they may contribute a percentage of the costs.
- If you determine that camp is not in the budget, scour your local resources (like Colorado Parent) and create a fun-filled activity calendar full of free events and inexpensive activities (like the community pool and local festivals).
- While planning, enjoy the process. Camp is fun and budgeting can be too!
Rachel Namoff is a financial literacy expert and managing partner at Arapaho Asset Management, aamisit.com.