Helpful tips for a fun summer camp experience, without breaking the bank
We want our kids to continue to learn over their summer break, and camps are a great way to beat boredom and allow them to release energy when it is 115 degrees outside in peak summer. But camps can get expensive, especially if you are relying on them for childcare and if you have more than one child.
Start planning your summer program budget now by setting funds aside each pay period in a separate savings account, and you’ll be feeling cool and confident during the sweltering days ahead. But how much should you save? Here’s some information to help you plan ahead.
Day camps offer flexibility to register in weekly increments for programs that will engage your child. The weekly commitment means you can pick between different camps over the course of the summer, and you won’t pay for a week when your family is out of town on vacation.
A great starting point is to check with your child’s school to see if they have a program available. Other affordable full and half-day options are available through local city programs and the YMCA. Some even have daily options available that allow you to pick and choose which days per week your child will attend.
You can also branch out according to your child’s interests with a variety of special interest camps, such as sports, music, and STEM programs or working with animals. Some special interest camps sell out quickly, so register your child early to claim their place and take advantage of any early bird registration discounts.
School district and city camps average $100-150/week with a variety of half-day and full-day times. Specialized camps average $200-$800 per child per week and increase from there.
Overnight camps foster independence and exploration. Consider overnight camps in Northern Arizona that allow your child to beat the heat, so they experience more outside time instead of screen time.
These camps can be booked in one and two week increments and range from $1,200-$1,800 per week on average. When searching for an overnight camp, look for options with sessions that catch your child’s interest and facilities that will provide accommodations for any special needs and/or dietary restrictions.
Adding Up the Costs
Hidden costs for summer camps can include application fees and some require full payment at registration. Others offer partial payment upon registration and the remainder due the week of camp.
For full day camps, check to see if food is included or if you’ll be packing lunches each day. If you need extended care hours in the morning or afternoon, those can run an extra $10-25 or more per day. And sending more than one kid to camp can add up! Check to see if the camp you are interested in has discounts for additional siblings. Many camps have reduced pricing available for families that qualify, so be sure to ask for available tuition-assistance programs if needed.
Many summer camps have age restrictions, so if you have children under 6 years old, make sure the programs you’re considering will accept them. You may need to arrange for separate daycare or a babysitter for little ones while older siblings are at camp. Keeping those additional costs in mind can help you keep your summer budget on track.
Summer Camp at Home
If summer camps are out of the budget, consider turning your home into the best summer camp ever! A theme for each week can make it easier to plan out activities for your family, such as selecting books at the library to investigate the theme and creating craft projects, food and outings to reflect what you learn on that topic. Themes such as oceans, outer space, or jungle animals can be flexible to include all ages in your home.
Start Planning Today
No matter your budget, the best summer camp or childcare option for your child is the one that engages their mind and allows their bodies to work off energy in a safe environment. Start planning now by setting funds aside and begin talking to your child about their favorite interests. With a little planning now, you’ll be on your way to creating a healthy and happy summer break for your family.