Summer Camp On a Budget: 4 Ways to Save Money On Camp


Make Summer Camp A Breeze, Not A Budget Buster 

For kids, the two-and-a-half months summer break is the stuff of dreams; for parents, it can be the catalyst for sleepless nights. In addition to finding reliable and trustworthy supervised care for children, the financial cost of summer camp looms large. 

The average weekly cost of day camp, according to the American Camp Association, can range from about $200 to more than $800 per week. And that’s just for day camp. Looking for a sleep-away camp? Don’t close your eyes to this startling figure:  Sleep-away camp can run you a thousand dollars, week in and week out. So unless you’re planning to take the entire summer off from work, you’ll need a summer camp plan that allows your kids to enjoy their classroom-free time without you having to learn a hard lesson in costs. 

1. Check Into Summer Camp Financial Assistance 

Check on whether your camp of choice offers price discounts, scholarships, or other forms of financial assistance. Instead of assuming that your income makes you ineligible, speak with the camp director to see if you qualify for some form of financial assistance. Special payment plans might be available as well as discounts for registering early, being a return camper, referring other family members or friends, or enrolling multiple children at the same time. Public or nonprofit entities such as the local school system, your county’s park and recreation department, the YMCA, or the Boys and Girls Club might also provide less expensive summer camp options. 

2. Consider The Hidden Costs 

A weekly rate isn’t the only cost you’ll need to take into consideration when budgeting for summer camp. A registration fee is usually expected and fees for additional items like T-Shirts, supplies, field trips, lunch, and snacks are not uncommon. To minimize transportation costs to and from camp, check out camps close to your home or work and look into the possibility of carpooling with other families that may be attending the same camp. 

3. Plan Camp Week By Week 

Check your day planner or smartphone calendar and see what activities you’ve already booked for the months of June, July, and August. Many camps charge tuition by the week, allowing you to plan your family vacation and other activities throughout the summer and forego camp attendance during those times. Remember that you needn’t commit to only one camp for the entire summer:  for example, if your child wants to attend a pricey theater arts class or special sports camp, book a couple of weeks there and the rest of the season at a less expensive option.  

4. Start Saving For Next Year 

When summer camp ends this year, you’ll have 12 months to start saving for next year’s costs. Think about how much you’ll be required to pay, in total, for your kids’ participation in next year’s summer camp and divided that number by 12 to determine how much you need to start saving each month – now. That way, when Camp Row Your Boat sends your bill next year, you’ll already be way ahead of the game financially instead of just treading water.  


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Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy

Holds a master's degree in professional writing and has more than 15 years of experience writing for national and international entities.

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