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Make Summer Camp Cost-Efficient

How to Get a Jump on Summer Camp Planning & Savings

By Choice Camps Staff

Updated Aug. 30, 2009, 12:29 p.m.

The state of the global economy may leave you speechless, but the cost of your child's summer camp doesn't have to. Here are seven easy ways to save money on summer camp.

  1. Research your camp. Services like Choice Camps will match you with well-established and qualified camps in your price range. You will have the ability to find the perfect summer camp for your child without worrying about breaking the budget.

  2. Get an early bird special. Book for next summer in September or October and you can potentially save 5 to 15%. If your child is returning to the same camp the following summer you may also be able to lock in your previous rate by booking early.

  3. Apply for a "campership." Typically, American Camp Association- accredited camps offer scholarships through the ACA and many other camps programs have a source of private funding for campers in need of financial assistance. Early enrollment can also put you in line for a scholarship.

  4. Take advantage of sibling discounts and group rates. Check if your camp offers a sibling discount for sending more than one of your children. Similarly, many sports-based programs offer lower rates for sending four campers or more.

  5. Ask for camp gift certificates. They are offered by many camps and can make a great gift for the holidays or a birthday.

  6. Double check your camp's refund policy. If your child has an unanticipated bout of homesickness and needs to come home early you don't want to lose all of your money. Some camps may only refund you if your child gets ill so it's important to know the policy before booking.

  7. Ask about discounts or financial assistance. Many camps have a "no child left behind attitude" and will be willing to work with you to ensure your child's ability to attend.

Money-Saving Alternatives

If your financial situation is too tight for your child's typical camp, you don't have to deny your camper's experience altogether. There are several budget-friendly alternatives and helpful money saving techniques.

  1. Look into other forms of summer camp. YMCA camps, vacation-Bible camp and church camp, community college camp, and Boy and Girl Scout camps are a less expensive way for your child to enjoy a positive summer experience.

  2. Register early to receive a substantial discount on next summer's tuition. Early bird specials can save you up to 15% and you will have nearly a year to incorporate the expense into your family's budget.

  3. Apply for a "campership". These scholarships are offered by many ACA-accredited camps and can cover a portion or the entire camp tuition based on financial needs and your child's qualifications.

  4. Send your child for a shorter session. Whether this means two weeks instead of eight or simply half of the summer, your camper will have the opportunity to foster his or her independence with a less excessive financial toll on your family.

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